photo: person walks across footbridge; research happening in the field; photo by Associate Professor Mona Atia

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Through award-winning research, the Elliott School of International Affairs strives to create knowledge, share wisdom and inspire action. Together, our centers, institutes, research initiatives and cross-disciplinary faculty combine in-depth analysis with practical applications to better address the future's most pressing global challenges.


Elliott School Research Professor wins major Indo-Pacific grants

Charles Glaser headshot

 

Elliott School Research Professor of International Affairs, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies; and Director of the Rising Powers Initiative, Deepa Ollapally, has been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of State’s Embassy in India and the Smith Richardson Foundation for two projects spanning from 2020-21.

Her project, “Shared Values and Worldviews in US-India Relations,” is the outcome of her Indo-Pacific expertise and the Sigur Center staff’s dedicated research & funding support to its affiliated faculty, scholars, and MA Asian Studies students. The grant is part of the DOS' efforts to strengthen ties between the U.S. and India through exchanges and programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. American experts on U.S.-India relations will participate in a series of seminars and workshops organized by the Sigur Center and Christ University in Bangalore - India’s Silicon Valley. The partnership will connect both American and Indian experts across a wide swath of industries to reach a more multifaceted understanding of the challenges faced by both countries.  

Dr. Ollapally's other project, “Big Power Competition for Influence in the Indian Ocean Region,” will be administered by the Rising Powers Initiative and result in an eponymous book. Dr. Ollapally will assess the changing patterns of geopolitical influence by major powers in the Indo-Pacific during the 2010s, focusing on the rivalry between the U.S. and China, in addition to the relationships between states, such as India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and others in the Indian Ocean region. She plans to conduct extensive fieldwork in Asia to decipher the way in which the “balance of influence” is heading, hedging, and China's unprecedented rise in the Indian Ocean. Dr. Ollapally expressed that "There's a profusion of work coming out on the Indo-Pacific, but it is overly focused on the Pacific side, giving short shrift to the Indian Ocean side. I want to fill that gap in the literature and policy orientation.”

Research Spotlights

Sarah Wagner presents What Remains: Bringing America's Missing Home from the Vietnam War

After the Berlin Wall: Memory and Making of the New Germany 1989 to the Present (book cover)

 

More than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for and presumed dead from the Vietnam War, and for their families, the war is not truly over until they come home. Advances in forensic science are now making it possible to identify and repatriate remains from the merest trace, renewing the hopes of military families in locating their missing.

As Elliott School Professor Sarah Wagner shows in her new book, the possibility of such homecomings compels the living to wrestle anew with their memories, the weight of their loved ones’ sacrifices, and what it means to fight and die on behalf of their nation.

Professor Wagner is a social anthropologist who previously studied the forensic efforts to identify victims of the Srebrenica genocide. Her research focuses on war and memory; nationalism; biotechnology and forensic science; post-conflict social reconstruction; forced migration and diaspora; interventionism; and military culture.

What Remains is published by Harvard University Press. Professor Wagner will be hosting a book talk at Politics and Prose on January 22nd, 2020, and another lecture on the same topic at the Elliott School on March 2nd, 2020. Please check back for forthcoming details on the lecture.

Elliott Professor Paul Williams publishes study on urban peacekeeping under attack in Mogadishu, 2007-2009

African Americans & Africa by Nemata Amelia Ibitayo Blyden (Book Cover)

 

In order to protect interim governments or facilitate humanitarian aid, peacekeeping operations are increasingly being deployed to high-threat environments without stable political agreements. In addition, many such operations are now based in capitals or major cities, whose urban environment poses a unique challenge to the incoming forces. 

To study how attacks on peacekeepers deployed in an urban environment affect their ability to operate, Elliott School Professor of International Affairs Paul Williams analyzed data on 122 violent events that occurred to the African Union Mission to Somalia’s (AMISOM) deployment to Mogadishu from 2007 to 2009. AMISOM is the peace operation that has come under the most sustained urban attacks in the modern era, mainly from the group Harakat al-Shabaab, which opposed their protection of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

As Williams showed, despite initial setbacks due to the attacks, AMISOM was able to adapt to the terrain and fulfill its mandate of protecting the TFG. However, future study is expected to illuminate how attacks on peacekeepers can further escalate violence. The full study is available here via Third World Thematics. 

Professor Williams’ research focuses on peace operations, emerging security threats, war and peace in Africa, and conflict resolution. He is also the Associate Director of the Security Policy Studies M.A. program at the Elliott School.

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