Cultural Studies Adjunct: Nick Cullather

I am a historian of United States foreign relations specializing in American ventures in nation-building. My research explores the ways in which the United States uses foreign aid, covert operations, modernization theory, diet, statistics, and technology to reconstruct the environment and social order in countries around the world. My first book, Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippines Relations, 1942-1960 (1994), explored the process through which a former American colony negotiated its conditional independence. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency developed a capacity to replace unsuitable governments, elected or otherwise, as I show in Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954 (1999), but the ambitions of nation-builders extended past governments to renovating the most ordinary routines of daily life. My current project, Parable of Seeds: The United States and the Green Revolution in Asia, looks at how American officials and private philanthropies, such as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, aimed to change the politics of the cold war by modifying the farming practices, eating habits, and birth rates of millions of peasants in South and Southeast Asia.

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