Typically, the scholar is “invisible” in his or her work. She or he does research and asks questions about the field, its intricacies and nuances, but it’s rare that the scholar becomes the subject matter or at least pushes the envelope in the discipline. This is exactly what Assistant Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn is doing.
Dunn recently published three articles that use this innovative approach. “Primarily I am interested in pushing the boundaries of how my discipline thinks about and studies world politics,” said Dunn. “The white male piece represents my desire to ask difficult questions about who we are as scholars and how that affects how we talk about the world,” Dunn said, referring to “Interrogating White Male Privilege,” a chapter published in Rethinking the Man Question: Sex, Gender, and Violence in International Relations edited by Jane Parpart and Marysia Zalewski and published by Zed. The article, “examines the ways in which racial and gender privilege manifests itself in the study of international relations,” Dunn said. “The result [of privilege within the discipline] is that the field of international relations perpetuates racism and sexism, while simultaneously erasing and obscuring the practices of exploitation and privilege.”
Dunn also recently published a chapter on “Historical Representations” in Audie Klotz and Deepa Prakash’s edited volume Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide published by Palgrave. He explains that the chapter “is my attempt to push conversations about how we as scholars study the world around us.” In the chapter, Dunn said, “I reflect on the types of research methods I used when writing my book Imagining the Congo, namely the examination of historical representations.” Dunn added that, “The edited book is an attempt to have people who are doing cutting edge work in those fields to discuss in clear ways the assumptions they make and the research methods they use.” “The piece on U.S. foreign policy is part of my continuing conversation about how and why Africa is important to the U.S. and the world,” Dunn said, alluding to his chapter “Sub-Saharan Africa and American Power in the Era of the Bush Doctrine” in From Superpower to Besieged Global Power: Restoring World Order after the Failure of the Bush Doctrine edited by Edward A. Kolodziej and Roger E. Kanet and published by the University of Georgia Press. The book examines U.S. foreign policies under the current Bush Administration. “My chapter examines the ways in which the African continent figures into the Bush Administration’s worldview. It does so primarily in two ways: as a front in its Global War on Terrorism and as an increasingly important producer of oil.”
Pushing the envelope, examining his discipline and asking scholars to question themselves, Dunn begins where most research ends. “In important ways, I am able to pursue these questions because of the intellectual atmosphere at Hobart and William Smith Colleges,” Dunn said. “HWS is a place that encourages intellectual innovation and academic freedom, so I am able to engage in these rather provocative and non-traditional conversation with a great deal of freedom and support.”