September 1, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Contemporary History | Self-Determination in the Age of World War II, Sept. 13

Bradley Simpson, portrait

Dr. Bradley Simpson

The Contemporary History Institute presents Dr. Bradley Simpson, who draws on his expertise in Indonesia as well as other parts of the global south to discuss self-determination in the Cold War era, on Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Baker 231.

In his talk, “The Atlantic Charter Moment: Self-Determination and Global History (1935-1945),” Simpson will explore how self-determination is one of the most important and controversial ideas in twentieth century international politics and how its meaning has been fiercely contested by both critics and champions. He will examine the contested history of the idea of self-determination during the Second World War, arguing that many of the hopes and fears it produced emerged during this crucial period.

Simpson teaches and researches 20th century U.S. foreign relations and international history in the History Department of the University of Connecticut and has a joint appointment with the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. He has an interest in U.S.-southeast Asian relations, political economy, human rights and development. Currently he is researching a global history of self-determination, exploring its political, cultural and legal descent through post 1945 U.S. foreign relations and international politics and hopes to use the contested history of self-determination claims to re-think contemporary notions of human rights, sovereignty and international order as they intersected with the processes of decolonization, Cold War conflict and globalization.

Simpson is the founder and director of a project at the non-profit National Security Archive to declassify U.S. government documents concerning Indonesia and East Timor during the reign of General Suharto (1966-1998). This project will serve as the basis for a study of U.S.-Indonesian-international relations from 1965 to 1999, exploring how the international community’s embrace of an authoritarian regime in Indonesia shaped development, civil-military relations, human rights and Islamic politics.

His first book, Economists with Guns: Authoritarian Development and U.S.-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968 (Stanford 2008) explores the intersection of anti-Communism and development thinking in shaping U.S. Indonesian relations. Recent essays and reviews have been published in International History ReviewCold War HistoryReviews in American HistoryDiplomatic HistoryThe Journal of Interdisciplinary HistoryCritical Asian Studies, and Peace and Change. Dr. Simpson was featured in the recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio documentary Accomplices in Atrocity: The Indonesian Killings of 1965.


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