Call for Papers: “Ronald Reagan and the Transformation of Global Politics in the 1980s”

Jonathan Hunt's picture
Call for Papers
April 30, 2016
Texas, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Political History / Studies, Public Policy, Political Science

Call for Papers: “Ronald Reagan and the Transformation of Global Politics in the 1980s”

19–21 January 2017, the University of Texas at Austin

Hosted by The Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin in association with the Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the Department of History and the Department of Government, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University.

Keynote speaker: Melvyn P. Leffer, the University of Virginia

Introductory speaker: H. W. Brands, the University of Texas at Austin

This conference will bring together a group of scholars and former policy-makers to undertake a wide-ranging reassessment of U.S. foreign policy and international relations during the Reagan Administration in light of emerging archival resources and declassified documents. Three days of panels, lectures, and conversations will include an introductory talk from H. W. Brands, the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas and author of Reagan: The Life, and a keynote address by Melvyn P. Leffler, the Edward Stettinius Professor of History at the University of Virginia, co-editor of the Cambridge History of the Cold War, and author of For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.

The 1980s were transformative. The global economy regained its footing after the oil shocks and stagflation of the previous decade. The rise of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ shifted the center of economic gravity towards the Pacific, amidst a series of democratic transitions in the region. The revolution in U.S.-Soviet relations curbed the nuclear arms race and set the tone for the end of the Cold War. The Palestinian Liberation Organization recognized the state of Israel while mujahideen fought the Soviet Army in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan with funds and weapons provided by the United States and Pakistan. Iran and Iraq fought a prolonged and bloody war. Brutal military dictatorships fell in Brazil and Argentina, and teetered in Chile. Economic reforms in the People’s Republic of China lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. Most momentous of all, Eastern Europe cast off Soviet rule, bringing an end to the postwar divisions of Germany and Europe and ushering in what many have called a unipolar moment for the United States.

The end of the Cold War has understandably transfixed scholars of international history and international relations. But Reagan’s imprint on history extended beyond that grand drama. His handling of U.S. relations with Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East paved the way for the triumphs and travails of the past decades and merits sustained historical attention. Without losing sight of the centrality of the Cold War, this conference will assess how Reagan and his administration conducted the full spectrum of U.S. foreign policy and the various legacies his presidency left behind for world politics.

The conference’s organizers invite paper proposals based on original research that offer new accounts of U.S. foreign and national security policy from 1981 to 1989 (and welcome those that may also partly extend into the Jimmy Carter or George H. W. Bush presidencies). We define national security broadly and encourage topics that integrate domestic politics, cultural relations, transnational and non-state actors, technology, economics, international institutions, and law. Papers could address, inter alia:

  • The Middle East
  • Latin America
  • Africa
  • The Atlantic Community
  • South and East Asia
  • The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
  • Global issues (e.g. human rights, cybernetics, finance, counterterrorism, etc.)
  • Reagan’s government and national security policy
  • Reagan and grand strategy

Please send brief proposals (350 words maximum) to the organizers, accompanied by a CV, to by 30 April 2016. Those selected will be informed by early June. Air travel, accommodations, and meals will be provided for participants who do not have their own travel funds.

Contact Info: 

Jonathan Hunt, Lecturer in Modern Global History, University of Southampton

William Inboden, Executive Director and William Powers, Jr. Chair, Clements Center for National Security & Associate Professor of Public Affairs