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Jonathan Haslam Appointed George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study

June 11, 2015
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Christine Ferrara
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Jonathan Haslam, one of the world’s most distinguished scholars on the history of thought in international relations, has been appointed George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study. Haslam, a Member (1998) of the School, is currently Professor of the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and will officially begin his six-year appointment at the Institute on July 1, 2015. 

The endowed Kennan Chair, established in 1995 to honor the diplomat, scholar and Institute Faculty member George F. Kennan (1904–2005), was previously held by Avishai Margalit (2006–2011), José Cutileiro (2001–2004) and Jack F. Matlock, Jr. (1996–2001). The Kennan Chair is designed to bring to the Institute outstanding scholars whose work bears on the understanding of the contemporary world.

Jonathan Haslam
Jonathan Haslam

Haslam has made significant contributions to our understanding of contemporary phenomena in international relations through critical and prescient examinations of the role of ideology. Haslam’s studies of Soviet foreign policy are expansive in their quality and range, demonstrating his keen originality of thought, supported by insightful and comprehensive archival research. This work solidified his reputation as a leading authority in the study of the Soviet Union from 1930 to the end of the Cold War, and he remains a powerful voice in the field.

“The School of Historical Studies is delighted to have as a member of its Faculty a scholar with such a breadth of research interests in the field of international relations, which range from Latin America and the Soviet Union to the history of theoretical concepts,” stated Angelos Chaniotis, Professor in the School of Historical Studies. “I am sure that the Members will enormously profit from the expertise of Jonathan Haslam. Professor Haslam’s interests in the influence of ideas and ideologies on international relations, and in the factors that shaped the Cold War, build a bridge between historical studies and the understanding of contemporary phenomena.”

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute and Leon Levy Professor, added, “We are very pleased to welcome to the Faculty of the Institute Jonathan Haslam, an outstanding scholar who brings an impressive range of study with potential for new engagement and dialogue across the Institute community.”

“I attended the Institute very profitably as a Member two decades ago. Certainly I never dreamed of ever taking up the Kennan Chair, and in such distinguished company,” said Haslam. “Coming in from a great university system now falling on hard times, vulnerable to demands from government that it must justify its existence purely in terms of utility, I cannot over-emphasize how important is the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The IAS epitomizes it as a result of Abraham Flexner’s enlightened vision. Long may it prosper.”

Haslam is the author of eight monographs, six collected volumes and more than fifty articles. His first four books—Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930–33: The Impact of the Depression (1983), The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security in Europe, 1933–39 (1984), The Soviet Union and the Politics of Nuclear Weapons in Europe, 1969–1987 (1990) and The Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933–41 (1992)—offer intensive explorations and interpretations of Soviet international relations and foreign policy in the context of economic, military and political developments in Europe, Asia and North America.

While a Member in the School of Historical Studies in 1998, Haslam worked on one of his most notable books, The Vices of Integrity: E.H. Carr, 1892–1982 (1999), which explores the life and work of one of the twentieth century’s most influential historians of the Soviet Union. Chronicling the influence of ideology on Carr’s historical thinking and perception of the Soviet Union, the book is a major contribution to the historiography of international relations. With the volume No Virtue Like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations since Machiavelli (2002), Haslam created a model for contemporary international relations theory, showing the importance of tracing the underlying premises of realist thought to their origins.

Haslam’s Russia’s Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall (2011) is the first comprehensive history of the Soviet Union’s role in the Cold War, and is based on his research on hitherto unexploited archival material in various languages. One of Haslam’s most original contributions is his study of Soviet intelligence operations, a subject to which he has also dedicated his next book: Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence (2015). Haslam has reinvigorated discussion on Soviet foreign policy with his bold views on how Soviet ideas of predominance in Europe sparked the Cold War, how ideology still influenced Soviet policy in the late 1960s and the factors that led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His work has helped to create a well-rounded picture of the Soviet point of view and provides for a more balanced assessment of Soviet policies.

Apart from his work on the Soviet Union, Haslam has also studied American foreign policy in Latin America. In The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allende’s Chile: A Case of Assisted Suicide (2005), Haslam conducted extensive archival research to investigate the role of U.S. policy under Nixon in undermining Salvadore Allende’s government, while simultaneously examining the faults of Allende’s policies that ultimately resulted in the dictatorship in Chile.

Beyond his scholarly work, Haslam served as Member and Chairman of an international committee advising the Historical-Diplomatic Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry from 1992–96. He was also a Special Adviser to the European Union Committee of the House of Lords, Sub-Committee for Common Security and Foreign Policy.

Haslam earned a B.Sc. (Econ.) in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 1972, an M. Litt. in the History of International Relations from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1978 and a Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham in 1984. From 1988–91, Haslam was a Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Kings College, Cambridge, and then served as Assistant Director of Studies in International Relations (Russia and Eastern Europe) at the University of Cambridge from 1991–2000. He was then a Reader in the History of International Relations until 2004, at which point he was named Professor of the History of International Relations. Haslam has also held academic positions and visiting professorships at several institutions including Birmingham University, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and Yale. He is a member of the editorial board of the Annals of Communism series of Yale University Press. Haslam is a Fellow of the British Academy, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and the Royal Historical Society and is a Member of the Society of Scholars at Johns Hopkins University.