Spring Semester Welcome Message

January 11, 2023

Spring Semester Welcome Message

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Spring Semester Welcome
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Dear friends,

We are happy to welcome you to a new year at the Mershon Center!

Last semester we resumed life in person in a new office, with a new director, two new staff members, three new postdocs, a new Hayes Chair, and many new affiliates. I'm deeply grateful for the good will, energy, and patience that have nudged me along what remains a steep learning curve. There was a lot to think about each time I paused for breath: the relaxed intellectual sociability of Mershon Mondays, the sustained conversations of the Centering Global Peripheries initiative and the Divided Community ProjectJay Lyall's Furniss lecture, Bruno Cabanes' pandemic-delayed conference on Globalizing the History of the World WarsLaura Dugan's symposium on far right extremismJoe Parrott's conference on Comics, Security, and the American Mission, a Chris Nichols book launch, and more. There were also ongoing collaborations with the US Institute of Peace and the Transitioning from Violence Consortium as well as, at Ohio State, the Moritz College of Law, the East Asian Studies Center, the Center for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and the Center for Historical Research. To cap the semester, we held galvanizing conversations with international luminaries Fiona Hill, on the importance of history and personality in the current Ukraine conflict, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, on how counterterrorism measures tend to empower governments and weaken human rights protections.

This semester our grantees, postdocs, chairs, and collaborators offer us an equally busy calendar, starting with the January 26th installation of Christopher McKnight Nichols as the Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair in National Security Studies. Two new series will ramp up: the Legal Geopolitics of the Ocean and the Mershon Africa Forum. We observe the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq with a March symposium on the complex legacies of the Iraq War, as well as a lecture by illustrious diplomatic historian Melvyn Leffler. The Leffler talk and additional lectures on US security strategy by Thomas Mahnken and Michael O'Hanlon will be made accessible to a general public at the Ohio Union. In a more speculative vein, a March workshop will consider the political implications of the Pentagon's report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. And of course there is more to come from the series inaugurated in the autumn.

Programming is, however, only the tip of the Mershon iceberg. We have redesigned the structure of Mershon funding to make different opportunities more visible, and we are excited to introduce a few new ones. The first Request for Proposals, for the March 1 competitions, is being launched this week, and the rest will follow shortly. We are also developing archival and data collaborations with Mershon colleagues.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the Hayes Chair installation on the 26th. Mershon Mondays resume on January 30th, with a presentation by Yana Hashamova and Sunnie Rucker-Chang of their new edited volume, Cultures of Mobility and Alterity: Crossing the Balkans and Beyond. Until then, we wish everyone good luck with the hiring season, graduate admissions, and virus avoidance.

Dorothy Noyes, Director