British Association for American Studies


#USSOBOOKHOUR with Dr. Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard

Dr. Søndergaard’s talk is based on his recent book, Reagan, Congress, and Human Rights (Cambridge UP, 2020), which traces the role of human rights concerns in US foreign policy during the 1980s, focusing on the struggle among the Reagan administration and members of Congress. He argues that pressure from Congress pushed the administration to reconsider its approach to human rights and craft a conservative human rights policy shaped by anti-communism and selective democracy promotion. Through a number of case studies, he shows how liberals and conservatives selectively invoked human rights to further their agendas. He argues that this helped cement human rights as the core moral language in US foreign policy but also further politicized the meaning of the concept with a lasting impact on US human rights policy. You can view his talk with the following Q&A here.

Reagan, Congress, and Human Rights: Contesting Morality in US Foreign Policy (Cambridge UP, 2o20)

Dr. Rasmus S. Søndergaard is a Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, specializing in U.S. foreign policy, human rights history, and democracy promotion. His current research examines American visions for uniting the democracies of the world from the Cold War to the present. He is the author of Reagan, Congress, and Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and several book chapters and articles published in journals such as International Politics, Diplomacy & Statecraft, and the Journal of Cold War Studies. Previously, he was a Marie-Curie Fellow at Lund University and a Carlsberg Foundation postdoc at Georgetown University. He frequently contributes commentary on U.S. politics and foreign policy in Danish media.

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