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Academic Disciplines and Power


Panel Discussions

Public, Staff, Students, Academics

Speakers: Deborah Cohn, Indiana University, Mark Ledwidge, Canterbury Christ Church University

CIPS (Centre for International Policy Studies) are pleased to host a Panel Discussion and Q&A session entitled “Academic Disciplines and Power”.


Deborah Cohn (Indiana University) will talk on “In the (Inter)National Interest: Conducting Cultural Diplomacy through American Studies during the Cold War”

Mark Ledwidge (Canterbury Christ Church University) will talk on “American Africans: The Socio-Politics of Knowledge and the Cold War Context”


Deborah Cohn

In a period of declining resources for the humanities, it is easy to forget that supporting the field of American studies was once viewed—and funded, quite generously, by public and private organizations alike—as directly serving the national interest. This paper examines the origins of the field, focusing on several of the many Cold War initiatives that fostered its growth abroad (e.g., the Fulbright program, the Ford Foundation’s multimillion dollar grant to the American Council of Learned Societies, the USIA-sponsored certificate in American studies that was offered by the University of Pennsylvania). American studies was far from the only field to be caught up in the interests of the Cold War State: given their focus on the (strategic) “Other,” area studies, modern languages, and anthropology were also well suited to this task, as were many of the other social science disciplines. Given that its subject involved defining and discussing the United States, though, American studies was uniquely positioned to assume an ambassadorial function abroad, promoting greater understanding of and respect for the U.S. among emerging leaders and opinion molders as the nation assumed its new role as a world power.

Mark Ledwidge

The Cold War ushered in a very important period in American history. Whilst the United States grappled with the strains of confronting the might of the Soviet Union, it was also going through deep-seated internal changes. An integral facet of the post 1945 context was the critical challenge posed by activists like Malcolm X, who constructed a counter cultural knowledge based socio-political critique that confounded, frustrated and ultimately provoked a strident backlash from the Euro-American establishment. This presentation will indicate Malcolm's seminal role in helping to redefine the intellectual terrain of US race relations, by his assertion of an alternate intellectual position predicated on a Knowledge of Self.


Professor Inderjeet Parmar (City University London)

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When & where

5.30pm - 7.00pmWednesday 13th April 2016

DLG09 Rhind Building City, University of London Rhind Building London EC1R 0JD United Kingdom

Contact Details


Centre for International Policy Studies

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom

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