Ryan M. Irwin

Assistant Professor                                                                        

Ph.D., Ohio State University
M.A., Ohio State University
B.A., State University of New York at Geneseo 

060N Social Science
Phone: (518) 442-5379
Fax: (518) 442-5301

Current Research Interests:

My scholarship explores the historical relationship between globalization and decolonization. Although I write specifically about the changing mechanics and shifting perceptions of American global power, my interests cover comparative imperialism, international institutions, nonstate activism, and technological development.

My first book, Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order, investigated the way small, non-European nation-states altered the international system at the height of the Cold War.  I'm working now on an intellectual history of the mid-1970s, as well as a political history about the growth and transformation of the nation-state during the mid-twentieth century.  

I'm happy to advise students on most aspects of American foreign relations history, broadly defined.

Most Recent Publication:

Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order (Oxford University Press, 2012)


“One World? Rethinking America’s Margins, 1935-1945,” in eds. Bevan Sewell and Maria Ryan, Working to the Margins: The U.S. and the Periphery (University of Kentucky Press, forthcoming)


“Inside the Parliament of Man: Enuga Reddy and the Decolonization of the United Nations,” for eds. António Costa Pinto and Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, The Ends of European Colonial Empires: Cases and Comparisons (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).


“Sovereignty in the Congo Crisis,” in eds. Elisabeth Leake and Leslie James, Decolonization and the Cold War: Negotiating Independence (Bloomsbury, 2015)


“Decolonization and the Cold War,” for eds. Artemy Kalinovsky and Craig A. Daigle, Routledge Handbook of the Cold War (Routledge, 2014)


“Mandela’s Unfinished Business: The Incomplete Legacy of South Africa’s Founding Father,” Foreign Affairs (December 2013)


“U.S. Foreign Relations and Africa,” and "U.S. Policy toward Apartheid," in eds. Timothy Lynch, David Milne, and Christopher McKnight Nichols, Oxford Encyclopedia of American Diplomatic and Military History (Oxford University Press, 2013)


“Imagining Nation, State, and Order in the Mid-Twentieth Century,” Kronos: Journal of Cape History 37 (April 2012), 87-97


“Apartheid on Trial: South West Africa and the International Court of Justice, 1960-1966,” International History Review 32:4 (December 2010), 619-642


“Mapping Race: Historicizing the History of the Color-Line,” History Compass 8:9 (September 2010), 984-999


“Wind of Change? White Redoubt and the Postcolonial Moment, 1960-1963,” Diplomatic History 33:5 (November 2009), 897-926

Links to:


Full Curriculum Vitae


Faculty with Potential Overlap Interests:

Mitch Aso
Allen Ballard
Iris Berger
Carl Bon Tempo
Richard Fogarty
H. Peter Krosby
Kendra Smith-Howard
Barry Trachtenberg