Brian McNamara is a PhD student in the Department of History at Temple University. Born in Canada, Brian earned his B.A. at Western University, where he studied History and French Language and Literature. He moved to the University of Waterloo for his M.A., where, under the supervision of Dr. John Sbardellati, he wrote an M.A. thesis on the debates between the Ford Administration and Congress over policy toward Angolan decolonization. After a year away from university, in 2015, Brian moved south and began his PhD at Temple, where he works with Dr. Petra Goedde. Three broad areas of interest animate Brian’s work:
1. How do states make foreign policy? What aspects of the state are influential in shaping foreign policy, and how?
2. How do communities outside of the state engage in foreign relations? How do they influence state policy? How do they shape transnational discourse?
3. How have different state and non-state actors thought about human rights throughout the twentieth century? What claims have they made to define human rights norms, and how have they made those claims tangible?
Brian applies these questions to the proposed subject of his dissertation, a study of U.S. relations with Angola from roughly 1960 to 1990. Through an examination of Congress’ role in shaping U.S. policy, Brian aims to broaden our understanding of which state actors make foreign policy. Brian wishes to expand chronologically the work of scholars like Carol Anderson, Tim Borstelmann, Mary Dudziak, Brenda Gayle Plummer, and Penny Von Eschen by examining the internationalism of black Americans into the 1980s, and by considering the ways in which their engagement in the black diaspora and membership in the American national community either came into conflict or were mutually constitutive. Finally, Brian plans to bring these two threads together by focusing on human rights claims made about Angolan decolonization, with a particular focus on the arguments of non-state actors, and on the United Nations.
In his spare time, Brian pines for a return to his home country and advocates for increased attention to all things Canadian. You can connect with Brian on Twitter, or learn more about him by checking out his CV!