Mary L. Dudziak
Mary L. Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, is a leading historian of American law and of the United States and the world. She is past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History, and a Member of the Council of Foreign Relations. She has been Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and others. Her books include Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (2000, 2d ed., 2011); Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey (2008); War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (2012), and three edited collections, including Making the Forever War: Marilyn Young on the Culture and Politics of American Militarism, co-edited with Mark Bradley (2021).
Dudziak’s pandemic-related writings include “An Uncountable Casualty: Ruminations on the Social Life of Numbers,” forthcoming in After Life: A Collective History of Loss and Redemption in Pandemic America, Rhae Lynn Barnes, Keri Leigh Merritt, and Yohuru Williams, eds. (2022). She is currently writing a history of the decline of democratic restraints on U.S war power: "Going to War: An American History" (under contract, Oxford University Press.)
Wartime as a Concept in History
When is wartime? On the surface, it is a period of time in which a society is at war. But we now live in what President Obama has called "an age without surrender ceremonies." It is no longer easy to distinguish between wartime and peacetime. This lecture argues that wartime is not as discrete a time period as we like to think. Instead, the United States has been engaged in some form of ongoing overseas armed conflict for over a century. Meanwhile policy makers and the American public continue to view wars as exceptional events that eventually give way to normal peace times. This has two consequences. First, because war is thought to be exceptional, "wartime" remains a shorthand argument justifying extreme actions like torture and detention without trial. Second, ongoing warfare is enabled by the inattention of the American people. More disconnected than ever from the wars their nation is fighting, public disengagement leaves us without political restraints on the exercise of American war powers.