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Saki and Michael Dockrill Memorial Lecture: Do the superpowers matter in the Cold War?


26 Nov DockrillAnnualLecture

Chair: Mike Goodman, Head of the Department of War Studies

Professor Lorenz M Lüthi, Associate Professor at McGill University will give this year's Saki and Michael Dockrill Memorial Lecture on challenging the standard narratives surrounding the Cold War.

The Cold War shook world politics in the second half of the twentieth century, but how should we interpret what is was about? Standard narratives focus on the Soviet–American rivalry, suggesting the USA and USSR were the exclusive driving forces of the international system. Yet, regional and national developments throughout the world shaped the course of the global Cold War to a much greater degree.

Despite their elevated position in 1945, the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom quickly realised that their political, economic, and military power had surprisingly tight limits given the challenges of decolonisation, Asian–African Internationalism, pan-Arabism, pan-Islamism, Arab–Israeli antagonism, and European economic developments. How do we approach traditional Cold War narratives in light of this?



Lorenz M Lüthi is Associate Professor at McGill University and a historian of the Cold War. His first book, The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World, won the 2008 Furniss Award and the 2010 Marshall Shulman Book Prize. His second book, Cold Wars: Asia, the Middle East, Europe was published in the spring of 2020.

This event will be held on Zoom and will be recorded.

Once registered via Eventbrite, access links will be emailed to you.

This lecture is held annually in memory of Professor's Saki and Michael Dockrill, both esteemed Alumni of the Department of War Studies.

Professor Saki Dockrill

This lecture is given annually in memory of Professor Saki Ruth Dockrill, who first came to the Department of War Studies in 1983 as a research student supervised by successive Heads of Department, Wolf Mendl and Lawrence Freedman. She went to Yale University as a John M. Olin Fellow in 1988-89 before returning to the Department as a MacArthur Fellow and then in 1992 as a lecturer in war studies; promotion to senior lecturer followed in 1997 and then appointment to a personal chair as Professor of Contemporary History and International Security in 2003. Professor Dockrill was a leading international historian, with four substantial, well researched books to her credit and five edited or co-edited. One of her best books was a study of the defence policy of Harold Wilson's two Labour Governments, 1964-70, and she made a notable contribution to the revival of Wilson's reputation as Prime Minister that had begun in the early 1990s.

Professor Mike Dockrill

Professor Mike Dockrill joined the Department in 1971 and remained until his retirement in 2001. He was one of only a handful of staff who sustained the Department for the better part of two decades. In the early 1980s, he met Saki Kimura, a postgraduate student in the War Studies Department, who had her own keen interest in post war European history. Saki went on to make her name as a leading international historian. Both were at the heart of departmental life and did much to promote the study of international history and foreign policy in the department. They inspired a generation of students with their deep knowledge of 20th-century international history and with genial good humour.

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