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Seth Garfield, Director GAR 1.104, Mailcode B7000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3261

Institute Fellows Examine Diplomacy in 2012-2013

Posted: July 24, 2012
Profs. Edward J. Kolla, Stephen Porter, and Christopher J. Lee

Profs. Edward J. Kolla, Stephen Porter, and Christopher J. Lee

This September marks the beginning of the Institute for Historical Studies' fifth year of programming. Chosen from a large and highly competitive pool of outstanding applicants, three new Visiting Research Fellows - Edward J. Kolla, Christopher J. Lee, and Stephen Porter - will examine topics related to the institute’s new theme of “Rethinking Diplomacy.”

Edward J. Kolla (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2010) is assistant professor of History at Georgetown University in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Qatar. With interests in European politics, culture, and international relations, Professor Kolla specializes in the history of international law. While at the IHS Professor Kolla will expand his dissertation, on the French Revolution and the transformation of international law in the late 18th century, into a book manuscript on the legal justifications for territorial claims during the period of the French Revolution.

“I would say what distinguishes my work is that traditional diplomatic history hasn't really addressed questions of political or legal culture," explains Dr. Kolla, “whereas what has been written of international law for the period tends to be on the level of philosophy or high intellectual history. My work aims to bridge, and go beyond, these various trends. That's why I'm so excited to come to Austin in the context of the "Rethinking Diplomacy" theme, to work with other scholars writing other forms of ‘new’ diplomatic history.”
 More about Professor Kolla on his faculty home page.


Christopher J. Lee received his Ph.D. in African History from Stanford University in 2003. Currently an assistant professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Professor Lee will work on a new project exploring the Indian Ocean as a “Zone of Peace,” specifically nuclear ambition and non-alignment in the Third World from 1955 to 1979. "Much of the Cold War literature has focused on the U.S., the U.S.S.R., and Europe until quite recently, and the history of the Atlantic world has drawn attention more generally,” points out Dr. Lee. “My research works against these prevailing tendencies by arguing for the importance of the Indian Ocean during this period, given the establishment of a number of postcolonial countries along its littoral after the Second World War. This is a large-scale project which I hope will speak to a number of audiences."

Lee's earlier work will be published as a book on colonial nativism and its legacies forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2013. Dr. Lee is also the editor of Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives (2010). Dr. Lee anticipates an inspiring year with IHS: "I am excited to be able to spend time with UT's distinguished faculty in international history, as well as have time off to pursue my research." More about Professor Lee on his faculty home page.


Stephen Porter, Ph.D. graduate of the University of Chicago (2009), is assistant professor of History and Director of the International Human Rights program at the University of Cincinnati. Professor Porter has studied the intersections of the international and domestic dimensions of modern U.S. history, with an emphasis on the history of human rights, U.S. foreign affairs, law, politics, public administration, immigration, race and ethnicity, philanthropy, ethics, labor, and institutions. Professor Porter aims to complete his book manuscript “Benevolent Empire: Refugees, NGOs, and the American State,” which examines humanitarian aid initiatives in the 20th century performed by both governmental and nongovernmental organizations on behalf of millions of political refugees and other victims of war and man-made violence.

“This will be the first extensive study of 20th-century refugee affairs,” writes Dr. Porter, “that explores how the United States sought a hegemonic position on the world stage through a combination of refugee aid initiatives on both American and international soils deployed through the intimate, if sometimes contentious, collaboration between state and civil society actors. As I complete a book on refugee affairs that explores the intersection of geopolitics, global migration, governance, and ethics, I can’t think of a more fertile environment than that provided by the community affiliated with the Institute for Historical Studies." More about Professor Porter on his faculty home page.


“By bringing these projects into dialogue with each other and with the wider cross-campus community committed to the Rethinking Diplomacy project,” said Director Julie Hardwick, “we hope to re-define the nature of diplomacy and its place in contemporary scholarship.” A new international history of diplomacy, broadly defined, will indeed inform current research and teaching as well as public debate and practice about foreign policy.

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