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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Janet Box-Steffensmeier

Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and divisional dean of social and behavioral sciences, will receive the Outstanding Professional Achievement award from the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Women’s Caucus. As part of this award, the MPSA will host a roundtable honoring Box-Steffensmeier and celebrating her important contributions to the discipline and the profession.

Box-Steffensmeier is a member of the Mershon Center Oversight Committee. She served as president-elect, president and immediate past-president of the MPSA, 2011-2013.

Margaret Newell

Mershon faculty affiliate Margaret Newell has been on the speaking circuit this year for her new book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery (Cornell University Press, 2015). The book began with a 2006 grant from the Mershon Center.

In Brethren by Nature, Newell reveals a little-known aspect of American history: English colonists in New England enslaved thousands of Indians. Massachusetts became the first English colony to legalize slavery in 1641, and the colonists' desire for slaves shaped the major New England Indian wars, including the Pequot War of 1637, King Philip's War of 1675–76, and the northeastern Wabanaki conflicts of 1676–1749. When the wartime conquest of Indians ceased, New Englanders turned to the courts to get control of their labor, or imported Indians from Florida and the Carolinas, or simply claimed free Indians as slaves.

Drawing on letters, diaries, newspapers, and court records, Newell recovers the slaves’ own stories and shows how they influenced New England society in crucial ways. Indians lived in English homes, raised English children, and manned colonial armies, farms, and fleets, exposing their captors to Native religion, foods, and technology. Some achieved freedom and power in this new colonial culture, but others experienced violence, surveillance, and family separations.

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Kendra McSweeney

Mershon affiliate Kendra McSweeney, professor of geography, is the author of a new report, "The Impact of Drug Policy on the Environment" (Open Society Foundations, 2015). The report responds to recent calls by both the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Global Commission on Drug Policy for drug policy debates to be based on the latest and best empirical evidence.

The report was funded by two grants from Open Society Foundations' Global Drug Policy Program to study the drug trade in Central America. These grants in turn were rooted in a 2011-12 grant from the Mershon Center.

McSweeney was also interviewed for an article in Vice News.


Alexander Wendt

Editor’s note: Mershon affiliate Alexander Wendt, Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security, is perhaps best known for his 1999 book Social Theory of International Politics. Winner of Best Book of the Decade Award from the International Studies Association, the book essentially brought the constructivist school of thought into the field of international relations.

Now, more than 15 years later, Wendt has published a second book, Quantum Mind and Social Science: Unifying Physical and Social Ontology. This book is a substantial departure from the first. In this interview, Cathy Becker, public relations coordinator at the Mershon Center, asks Wendt about how his new book applies the philosophy of quantum mechanics to social science.

Cathy Becker (C): What gave you the idea of applying quantum mechanics to social science in the first place, and what made you think you could do it?

Alex Wendt (W): Well, I had recently finished my first book in 1999, and I was looking around for something new to do -- in terms of my own intellectual situation, I was sort of casting about. I knew there were problems in the book -- I wasn’t satisfied with my resolution of various issues -- so in that sense I was motivated to find something that would speak to those problems.

It was really sheer coincidence that I was in a bookstore in Chicago and came across a book called The Quantum Society by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall (Morrow, 1995), which was a non-academic book, but basically makes the argument that I make in my new book, which is that the brain and society are quantum phenomena.

So I read this book, and I thought, “Wow! This could be it.” Then the more I followed up on their citations and read about the ideas, the more I became convinced that the argument was true. So I decided that I wanted to write a book for a more academic audience where this would get taken more seriously.

So that was how it came to be. The book took a lot longer to write than I expected. I had to teach myself a lot of stuff, and it was just a very hard book to write, but it finally got done.

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