Kathryn Lavelle, the Ellen & Dixon Long Associate Professor of World Affairs at Case Western Reserve University, will spend the 2008-2009 academic year in Washington, D.C., as a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Lavelle plans to interview policy makers in international finance in Congress, research archives in Washington and continue writing her second book tentatively called Legislating for International Organizations: the US Congress and the Bretton Woods Financial Institutions.
The fellowship provides Lavelle with an office, stipend, a researcher and access to the Library of Congress and other libraries in the city. She will also attend weekly meetings and seminars with approximately 20 other fellows to share and discuss their projects. She is one of the first, while on the Case Western Reserve faculty, to receive the honor.
Lavelle says that the book's outline completed. She has goals to complete the first chapters this summer, submit related journal articles for review and later incorporate the comments into the manuscript she will draft during the fellowship.
In addition to the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Lavelle received a grant-in-aid from the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Del., to spend a month researching materials in the Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society located there. Of particular interest to Lavelle are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Foreign Trade Council archives, housed in the Hagley.
According to Lavelle, these two organizations were instrumental in securing passage of the Bretton Woods Agreement Act of 1945 that established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The details of the politics involved will be an integral part of the book, which examines the formation of the financial organizations that shaped global economic relations since the end of World War II.
"I want to use the archives to provide an external perspective on how interest groups work through the Congressional machinery to enact financial globalization policy," said Lavelle.
At the Hagley Museum, she will have access to materials that date up to 1983. She will unravel the later years through interviews with many of the political leaders who are alive today.
"It's amazing that a victorious country like the United States was willing to help pay the costs of reconstruction after a major world war and to create international organizations that included its former adversaries like Germany and Japan—effectively welcoming them back into the global economic system—especially when the instincts at the end of any war are to do just the opposite," said Lavelle.
She added, "This is a fabulous political story, and one that needs to be told if we are going to understand the current situation where people don't have positive feelings about globalization."
Lavelle's approach to globalization crosses two areas of political science—Congress and international relations and finance.
Her interest in the two areas began during her doctoral research and was piqued in 2006 as the Steiger Fellow of the American Political Science Association in Washington. While an APSA Fellow, she had a behind-the-scenes view into Congressional politics as she worked on the majority staff of the House Committee on Financial Services.
"Too many times political scientists focus on roll call votes, but the real politics takes place off the House floor and in the committee hearings and negotiations," she said.
Lavelle said she will draw from the contacts she made during her Capitol Hill assignment as she builds the story of support for the IMF and World Bank through hearing records that preserve the history of the activities of members of Congress, international business, non-governmental organizations and other interest groups.
In addition, she will begin to investigate the international implications of the current financial crisis as a potential future project to undertake when the book is completed. As a political scientist, she said that observing patterns in history is important so that current policy makers can try to prevent events like the Great Depression from re-occurring.
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