Hi and welcome to my web profile. My name is Andrew and I came to Aston University in the fall of 2017 to take up the position of Lecturer in Politics and International Relations. I am originally from Scotland, but most recently I was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at The National September 11 Memorial & Museum/New York University.
I work at the intersection of international history and international security with a particular focus upon the United States. Indeed, I am fascinated by the nature and meaning of “America” – how the United States understands itself, how it relates to the rest of the world, and indeed its journey through time and space and its place in world history.
Alongside interests in the Cold War, 9/11, The Global War on Terror, CIA, NSC, the presidency, the military, and American memory, I am interested in the concept “freedom” and in narratives and conceptions of “American Freedom” in particular. The majority of my research is based on a combination of archival research and oral history interviews, but I enjoy engaging with a variety of other texts, including novels, poems, music, movies and artefacts in order to better understand the diverse conglomeration of people and ideas that have come to be known as “America.”
My forthcoming university press monograph, “Struggles for Freedom”: Afghanistan and US Foreign Policy Since 1979, compares and contrasts "narratives of freedom” employed towards Afghanistan before and after 9/11 - with a specific focus upon the Soviet-Afghan War and the Global War on Terror. It is based on extensive archival research and over 100 interviews with former ambassadors, CIA officers, NSC staff, presidential speechwriters and advisors, and high-level figures such as former Secretary of State George Shultz (1981-1989) and NSC Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (1977-1980). At heart it is an inquiry into the cultural production of American national identity. While this study - and the majority of my research - focuses upon the modern era, I nevertheless situate my work within a much broader reading of American history of which I am a keen student.
While based in New York City I was (a) working on my next major project based on oral history interviews with post-9/11 veterans and (b) a Scholar-in-Residence at the 9/11 Memorial Museum charged with working alongside talented colleagues in the education, exhibition and curatorial departments to help increase the level of historical literacy surrounding 9/11. For example, I worked on content development for the forthcoming exhibition on the hunt for Osama bin Laden; engaged with stakeholders and constituency groups across the city and the country; and gave talks to teachers, high school students, interpretive guides, docents, members of the armed forces and the general public. This fellowship culminated in the first academic conference to be held at the 9/11 Memorial Museum entitled "The 9/11 Legacy: History is Not Was, History Is" in June 2017 and will ultimately lead to my next book which is tentatively titled, "Why We Serve": 9/11 and the War on Terror Through Veterans Eyes.
To bring my ideas to fruition I have been very lucky in that my work has been supported by stipendary fellowships at the Library of Congress, where I was a British Research Council Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center (2011); the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, where I was an Oral History Research Fellow (2014); and the British Library, where I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Eccles Center for American Studies (2015). My MA and PhD were funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) scholarship I won through the UK national competition; my fieldwork during my graduate studies was funded by the ESRC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); while my postdoctoral work was funded through securing an internationally competitive Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Before embarking upon full-time study in 2005 I studied with the Open University, predominately while I was in the Royal Air Force (1998-2005) as a photographer in the intelligence and security branch. As the momentous events of that period unfolded I felt like an actor - however humble my own role - in a play: the problem was that I did not really understand the plot. Ever since then I have been working towards a greater understanding of the world around me and of my own place in time.
If you have any question about my research please feel free to contact me.
Specialisms: US foreign relations; Cold War; 9/11; War on Terror; CIA; NSC; US military; US presidency; "freedom."
Fields: war studies; intelligence studies; international security; US history; US foreign policy; public history; oral history.
Office Hours: Tuesday 12-2; Wednesday 3-5
Phone: 0121 204 3371
Work email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal email: email@example.com
I have taught a variety of students at a number of different universities on both sides of the Atlantic. I always relish the challenge of communicating ideas to different types of students and audiences and I am a firm believer in public history and public engagement. At Aston I teach:
Other courses I have taught would include "The Global Cold War," The History of 9/11 and the War on Terror," and "US Foreign Relations."
I am interested in supervising talented students on any of the areas of specialisation mentioned above.