Manela Appointed History Professor

Historian is expert in international relations and diplomatic policy


Erez Manela, previously an associate professor of history and currently the director of graduate student programs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, was appointed a professor of history at the University effective this summer.

Manela’s research focuses on international history and the United States in the world, including the impact of Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric at the end of World War I and, more recently, the worldwide campaign to eradicate smallpox.

Lizabeth Cohen, chair of the history department, praised Manela for his innovative path of study.

“His work is very important because he is part of a very small group of historians who are moving the traditional field of diplomatic history, which for a long time had been concerned with the foreign policies of the largest, often western nations, to a more international history,” said Cohen.

Instead of focusing solely on the major nations, Manela studies how smaller and non-Western countries responded to and influenced the foreign policies of the larger nations, said Cohen.

“This new approach is changing the rules of the game in the history of international relations,” added Cohen.

In his first book, “The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism,” Manela studied how President Wilson’s policies influenced rising anticolonial activism in Asia and the Middle East.

“This is a story of unintended audiences and consequences for American rhetoric and action on the world stage,” said Manela in an interview, summarizing the work.

He is now looking at the global campaign that eradicated malaria during the mid-1960s through late 1970s—the first successful elimination of an infectious disease. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]

The campaign saw the cooperation of two of the world’s superpowers—the United States and the Soviet Union—but Manela is also taking into account the institutionalization of international organizations and non-government organizations, in some ways descendants of Wilson’s 1919 vision.

“Smallpox eradication is a way to see how that works not simply on the drawing board or in theory but actually on the ground,” said Manela.

Manela’s colleagues have expressed excitement about his appointment in the department, and said that they are looking forward to reading his subsequent books.

“Professor Manela has quickly made a name for himself as one of today’s most inspiring leaders in the field of international history,” said Stephen M. Kosslyn, Dean of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in the press release.

—Staff writer Alissa M. D’Gama can be reached at


The Sept. 4 news article "Manela Appointed History Professor" gave the wrong disease in stating that Erez Manela is studying the global campaign that eradicated malaria. In fact, he is studying the eradication of smallpox. Malaria has not been eradicated.