“The Significance of American Expatriates, Identity, and Overseas Institutions on U.S. Foreign Relations,” 9/30 MRSEAH with American University Prof. Sarah Snyder


For the September 30 meeting of the MRSEAH in Columbia, participants will convene for a discussion of American University Prof. Sarah Snyder’s current work on the institutional scholarly presence of Americans abroad and how it shaped U.S. foreign relations. As always, festivities will commence with a reception at 5:30 in the Kinder Institute offices, after which we will shift to Jesse 410 for the seminar, with dinner to follow.

Invitations, along with a copy of the paper, will be sent no later than two weeks prior to the event.


In the second half of the nineteenth century, the presence and influence of American missionaries intensified and broadened; significantly, they also began to establish permanent institutions, including Robert College, Syrian Protestant College, and the American Farm School. Furthermore, Americans with different motivations such as architects and classicists created schools and academies that ensured a long-term scholarly American presence abroad. This paper will chronicle the establishment of these institutions and analyze their influence on U.S. foreign relations.

Sarah Snyder received her B.A. from Brown University, her M.A. from University College London, and her Ph.D. from Georgetown University. She currently serves as a Professor in American University’s School of International Service. A historian of U.S. foreign relations, with particular emphasis on the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy, she is the author of Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which received SHAFR’s 2012 Stuart Bernath Book Prize and Myrna F. Bernath Book Award; and From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activism Transformed U.S. Foreign Policy (Columbia University Press, 2019), which received SHAFR’s 2019 Robert H. Ferrell Prize. She is also co-editor of The CSCE and the End of the Cold War: Diplomacy, Societies and Human Rights, 1972-1990 (Berghan Books, 2018) and has widely published articles in journals including Diplomatic History, Cold War History, Human Rights Quarterly, and Journal of American Studies.