Robert Crawford, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor
Political Science
University of Chicago
Political Science and History
Whittier College

For more than thirty years, I worked in the field of cultural studies with a focus on the meaning of health in contemporary American culture. My central premise and line of argument was that health is a "key word" in modern culture, a metaphor for meanings that reside far beyond the medical definitions most frequently associated with the concept of health.

During the last seven years, I have taken up research and related teaching in the American political and cultural response to U.S. torture, post-9/11. My focus in this research is on the question of accountability, or more precisely, the failure of accountability, for grave violations of human rights, national and international law. This research has followed from and contributed to political commitments related to my human rights activism.

These concerns have led me to another set of questions about modern and contemporary war. I am interested, in particular, in delineating and explaining what I understand as a core contradiction of the contemporary war system: one the one hand, a "logic" of warfare that continually ignores both morality and international law in a political setting where the myth of humane warfare is a core legitimation of the nation's claims for waging just war; and on the other hand, a humanitarian sensibility among both domestic and international publics that even though normally submerged is the source of occasional distress, shock and opposition to the offending act and can even undermine support for war more generally. I am interested in how that contradiction in managed by political and military elites and how and under what conditions distress is experienced and opposition expressed.

Throughout both periods, and increasingly, I read widely in modern and contemporary history. I have brought this historical perspective to my teaching and writing.

Scholarly Interests

Modern and contemporary history


Current menu of courses:

  • GH 301: Global Interactions: WORLD-SHAPING EVENTS OF THE 20TH C.TPOLS 251: Cultural Studies: TORTURE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
  • THIST 457: Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
  • TPOLS 450: Contemporary Theories of Culture: POST-9/11
  • TPOLS 480: Capstone: WAR AND CULTURE

I am no longer teaching graduate courses.

Academic Service

I am a human rights activist and work with the UW Center for Human Rights.

CV or Resume
PDF icon Robert Crawford CV74.71 KB