Interview with Matthew Evangelista--July 22, 2013

Interview with Matthew Evangelista, President White Professor of History and Political Science in the Department of Government at Cornell University. Interview conducted in Ithaca, NY on July 22, 2013. 

Evangelista specializes in international and comparative politics and is the author of several books on a wide range of topics. These include—to name just a few—Innovation and the Arms Race: How the United States and the Soviet Union Develop New Military Technologies published in 1989 by Cornell University Press, Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War (also by Cornell in 1999), a book on Chechnya titled The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union? (published in 2004), and most recently Gender, Nationalism, and War: Conflict on the Movie Screen published in 2011 with Cambridge.

Interview Themes

Evangelista's undergraduate training in Russian/Soviet history and literature and interest in politics (1:30)
Professors and others at Harvard who had an impact on Evangelista's intellectual trajectory (3:20)
The connection between Evangelista's interest in languages and literature and his current intellectual interests (6:15)
Evangelista's first visit to the USSR in 1979 (7:40)
On terminological slippages (between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, or foreign policy intentions versus foreign policy capacity) that inform attitudes and policy decisions (12:47)
On studying the Soviet Union as offering a way of seeing how power works in international relations (16:30)
The importance of the immediate post-WWII period and the 1980s in Evangelista's work (22:20)
The origins and nature of the Peace Studies Program at Cornell and changes in the Cornell Department of Government since Evangelista was a grad student the 1980s (27:27)
How we are still living with the legacy of the Cold War (34:00)
Evangelista's thoughts at the time on the Soviet Union's disarmament (38:48)
Gorbachev and the road to Putin (43:13)
To what extent should we try to move beyond the Cold War? (48:17)
On nationalism as an ideological alternative emerging out of the Cold War? (52:43)
The importance of ideology vs. institutions to Evangelista's understanding of Soviet military policy or Gorbachev's reforms (55:36)
Moments or events Evangelista has lived through that have proved significant for him intellectually (1:00:28)
Why Cold War studies is preoccupied with the matter of timing (1:03:18)
Are there different reasons why historians vs. political scientists look to history? And an explanation of "process tracing" (1:09:20)
How Evangelista's intellectual trajectory was influenced by area studies and what he thinks should be retained about area studies (1:18:52)
In training graduate students, what is it they most need? (1:22:23)
The origins of Evangelista's book on Gender, Nationalism, and War (1:24:04)
Evangelista's work on Chechnya and his sense of the scholar's role in weighing in on matters of contemporary political significance (1:28:18)
Should we only ever ask questions about where real power is because nothing else matters? (1:33:20)
Evangelista's current intellectual interests on bombing, among other things (1:37:30)
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