Ryan M. Irwin


Associate 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:

Ryan Irwin writes about U.S. and the World history. His first book, Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order, explored how African independence altered the international system at the height of the Cold War. His current book, Vast External Realm: America and the Invention of the Free World, is a collective biography of Dean Acheson, Felix Frankfurter, Walter Lippmann, and Harold Laski, which probes some of the assumptions that underlay American world power. He's also researching a book about Daniel Patrick Moynihan and writing a series of essays about American exceptionalism.

Professor Irwin is interested in global governance and decolonization, as well as the relationship between nineteenth century political theory and twentieth century international politics, and he is happy to advise students on most aspects of American foreign relations history.

Some Publications:

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


"Through the Looking Glass: African National Congress and the Tricontinental Revolution, 1960-1975," in eds. Matthew Atwood Lawrence and Joseph Parrott, The Transnational Revolution: Tricontinentalism at Fifty (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)


"Between Two Ages: United States, Decolonization, and Globalization in the Long Sixties," in ed. Christopher Dietrich, A Companion to U.S. Foreign Policy, 1776 to the Present (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming)

"Denizens of a Center: Rethinking Early Cold War Grand Strategy," in eds. Elizabeth Borgwardt, Christopher Nichols, and Andrew Preston, Rethinking Grand Strategy (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

“From League of Nations to United Nations: An Epilogue,” in eds. Simon Jackson and Alanna O’Malley, The Institution of International Order: From the League of Nations to the United Nations (Routledge, 2018)

"Trump's Ascendancy as History," H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Series: America and the World, 2017 and Beyond (March 2017)

“One World? Rethinking America’s Margins, 1935-1945,” in eds. Bevan Sewell and Maria Ryan, Foreign Policy at the Periphery: The Shifting Margins of US International Relations since World War II (University of Kentucky Press, 2017)


"Some Parts Sooner, Some Later, and Finally All," H-Diplo State of the Field Essay 142 (October 2016)

"Cold War in Africa," in ed. Matthew Masur, Understanding and Teaching the Cold War (University of Wisconsin Press, 2016)

Inside the Parliament of Man: Enuga Reddy and the Decolonization of the United Nations,” in eds. António Costa Pinto and Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, The Ends of European Colonial Empires: Cases and Comparisons (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

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,” in 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)

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

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

Select Reviews

"Gardens and Labs," a review of David Milne's Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews (2017)

"Afghanistan in the World," introduction for a roundtable on Timothy Nunan's Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews (2017)

"Irreconcilable Differences," a review of Jeremy Friedman's Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Split and the Third World, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews (2016)

"Human Rights and the 1970s," a dual review of Barbara Keys' Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s and Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume II: Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, published in Diplomatic History 40:4 (2016)

"Historicizing the Black Atlantic," a review of Brenda Gayle Plummer's "In Search of Power: African Americans in the Era of Decolonization, 1956-1974, published in Diplomatic History 38:5 (2014)

"Globalization as History," a review of ed. Akira Iriye's Global Interdependence: The World After 1945, published in H-Diplo Reviews (2014)

"Expansion & Its Discontents," a review of William Appleman Williams' Contours of American History, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews 15:20  (2014)

"America's Third World," a review of Robert Rakove's Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews 14:39 (2013)

"Freedom's Other," a review of Connie Field's seven-part documentary, Have You Heard From Johannesburg: Seven Stories of the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement, published in roundtable in Diplomatic History 36:5 (2012)

"Kennedy's Africa, " a review of Philip Muehlenbeck's Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders, published in H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews 14:3 (2012)

"Decolonizing Human Rights," a dual review of Roand Burke's Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights and Samuel Moyn's The Last Utopia, published in the Journal of Global Studies 6:2 (2011)

Links to:

Full Curriculum Vitae


Scholars Archive

Faculty with Potential Overlap Interests:

Mitch Aso
Carl Bon Tempo
Richard Fogarty
H. Peter Krosby
Kendra Smith-Howard