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Vanessa Walker

Assistant Professor of History

Departmental affiliation:History

Submitted by Vanessa Walker on Friday, 4/18/2014, at 2:46 PM

DEGREES

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 (of course) 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 country domestically, influencing American ideals, identities, society, and government institutions. My current book project, for example, brings together high-level diplomatic and political history with that of activist networks and social movements to argue for the centrality of Latin America in the development of U.S. human rights policies and debates in the Ford and Carter presidencies. At its core, the project is a study of how foreign policy is made in a democracy, situating diplomacy in a larger social and political domestic context, and it traces the deep and inextricable connections between international structures and policies, and domestic dissent and reform in the 1970s.Although my primary focus is on the United States, I also have done research in Latin America and the Middle East, and enjoy offering comparative and transnational courses rooted in broader global contexts, such as seminars on Cuba and the United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

People often note that I teach a lot of “controversial” topics: human rights, the Arab-Israeli conflict, even U.S. relations with Cuba, and the Vietnam War. I find it energizing to engage these topics with students, who come in with a lot of passion for these subjects. Grappling with contemporary problems sparked my own interest in history, and I believe that critical thinking about the past can shed new light on assumptions or biases attached to current problems and issues. Moreover, 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 will use their passion for a topic to acquire knowledge and nuance, to build skills to engage productively those who hold fundamentally different opinions, and use that as a platform for pursuing their interests outside of the classroom.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

“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.

 “Critically Relevant and Genuinely Critical.” In “Fifty Years of William Appleman Williams’ Tragedy of American Diplomacy: An Anniversary, a Discussion, and a Celebration,” Passport, 40, No. 2 (September 2009): 35-6.

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.

AWARDS AND HONORS

Graduate Fellow, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, 2009-10       

Visiting Fellow, Simon Dubnow Institute, University of Leipzig, Germany, 2009          

William Appleman Williams Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007   

Gerald R. Ford Scholar in honor of Robert Teeter, Gerald Ford Presidential Library, 2007

Bemis Dissertation Research Grant, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2007

University Award for Early Excellence in Teaching, College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007

George Mosse Fellow, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2004-2005

University Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002-03