Ph.D. History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011
M.A. History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004
B.A. History and Biology, Whitman College, 2000
TEACHING AND RESEARCH INTERESTS
My primary areas of interest in my teaching and my research are the history of U.S. foreign relations and the history and politics of human rights. With both of these topics, I like to focus on the interchange between international and domestic spheres and actors. I approach foreign relations in broad terms to engage ideology, race, gender, culture, and policy, as important forces in shaping the United States’ global interactions through out its history. Moreover, I like to explore how foreign entities—both governmental and non-governmental—have shaped the United States domestic politics, influencing American ideals, identities, society, and government institutions. I am particularly interested in how different actors have sought to reconcile the absolutist principles of human rights with the necessary pragmatism of policymaking and diplomacy.
My book Principles in Power: Latin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy (Cornell University Press, 2020) explores the relationship between U.S. policymakers and nongovernment advocates in Chile, Argentina, and the United States from the 1973 Chilean Coup to the first years of the Reagan administration. It argues that U.S. human rights policies of the 1970s were rooted in domestic politics of reform and sought to bring moral considerations into calculations of national interests. Rather than evaluate U.S. human rights policy based exclusively on its ability to coerce change from foreign governments, or as a grand moral gesture or cynical power play, I explore it as a self-reflective policy that aimed to address the failings of Cold War paradigms for domestic and foreign political power. This self-critical framing giving rise to uniquely anti-interventionist human rights policy in the 1970s. Addressing the development of US diplomacy and politics alongside that of activist networks, especially in Chile and Argentina, reveals that Latin America was central to the policy assumptions that shaped the Carter administration’s foreign policy agenda. Analyzing how different groups deployed human rights language to reform domestic and international power reveals the multiple and often conflicting purposes of U.S. human rights policy and exposes the potentials and limits of partnership among government and non-government actors.
I teach a wide array of courses on U.S. foreign relations, modern American history, and human rights. I believe that critical thinking about the past can shed new light on assumptions and biases attached to current problems and issues, and all of my courses raise important questions beyond foreign relations and U.S. politics: How do we define communities? How does that collective identity shape behavior, institutions, and perceptions of potentials and actions? What are the opportunities and limits of democracy? What is the ideal balance between individual freedoms and collective security, between stability and dynamism? How do ideas matter on an individual and global level? My hope is that these questions, raised in a historical context, provide students a platform for asking similar questions about their own lives and engaging with contemporary issues outside the classroom with empathy and integrity. The study of history is, by definition, a study of changing perspectives. It is ideal then, for grappling with particularly intractable problems since it constantly pushes us to engage perspectives different from—and at times counter to—our own. My hope in teaching these classes is that students build skills to engage productively those who hold fundamentally different opinions, and use that as a foundation for pursuing their interests outside of the classroom.
SELECTED SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS
Principles in Power: Latin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy. The United States in the World Series, Cornell University Press, 2020.
“At the End of Influence: Rethinking Human Rights and Intervention in U.S.-Latin American Relations.” Journal of Contemporary History, 46, No. 1 (Jan 2011): 109-135.
Co-Authored with David F. Schmitz, “Jimmy Carter and the Foreign Policy of Human Rights.” Diplomatic History, 28, No. 1 (Jan 2004): 113-144.
With Paul Yancey, et al., “Trimethylamine Oxide Counteracts Effects of Hydrostatic Pressure on Proteins of Deep-Sea Teleosts.” Journal of Experimental Zoology, 289, No. 3 (Feb 2001): 172-6.