Making the World Global: U.S. Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary

Making the World Global: U.S. Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary

by Isaac A. Kamola

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Following World War II the American government and philanthropic foundations fundamentally remade American universities into sites for producing knowledge about the world as a collection of distinct nation-states. As neoliberal reforms took hold in the 1980s, visions of the world made popular within area studies and international studies found themselves challenged by ideas and educational policies that originated in business schools and international financial institutions. Academics within these institutions reimagined the world instead as a single global market and higher education as a commodity to be bought and sold. By the 1990s, American universities embraced this language of globalization, and globalization eventually became the organizing logic of higher education. In Making the World Global Isaac A. Kamola examines how the relationships among universities, the American state, philanthropic organizations, and international financial institutions created the conditions that made it possible to imagine the world as global. Examining the Center for International Studies, Harvard Business School, the World Bank, the Social Science Research Council, and NYU, Kamola demonstrates that how we imagine the world is always symptomatic of the material relations within which knowledge is produced.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478005612
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 06/07/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Isaac A. Kamola is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and coeditor of Politics of African Anticolonial Archive and The Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting the Global/Transforming the Local.

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"Creative Imagination" Is Needed

W. W. Rostow and the Rise of Modernization as a National Imaginary

One thought ever in the fore — That in the Divine Ship, the World, breasting Time and Space, All peoples of the globe together sail, sail the same voyage, Are bound to the same destination

— WALT WHITMAN, "One Thought Ever at the Fore"

In 1953, the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) submitted a proposal to the Ford Foundation requesting funding for what would become the new center's highly influential Economic and Political Development Program. Drawing on faculty expertise, the proposal laid out an ambitious research agenda focused on understanding comparative economic and political development across India, Italy, and Indonesia. The proposal argued that research on economic and political development had important strategic implications for the United States, observing that today "development of the underdeveloped countries is a decisive factor in world politics," especially given that "Asia and Africa have become primary arenas in the Soviet-American conflict" (CENIS 1953, 1). While world affairs are only "partially shaped by Great Power strategy," the actual contours, the proposal argued, involve "internal political and economic evolution" experienced in political and economic life (1). As such, development informs the "course of the larger power struggle and may, in the long run, determine its outcome" (1). The United States, therefore, has considerable interest in assisting "emergent nations," helping them "achieve economic growth" and forge "democratic institutions" (1). The center justified its funding request on the basis that closer study of economic and political development would "help define the kinds of policy and action" that would "aid and hasten" changes "in the desired direction" (1).

The following year, CENIS submitted a follow-up request, documenting preliminary findings about India, Italy, and Indonesia, overviewing the twenty-two research projects under way, listing the new faculty and specialists hired, and touting the collaborative relationships established between CENIS and the Indian and Indonesian governments (CENIS 1954, vi). The proposal acknowledged that such research "is large in both scope and conception" and requires "substantial financing" (CENIS 1954, vi). In 1958, the center presented another proposal to the Ford Foundation, arguing that in its short six-year history, the center had "assembled a well qualified resident staff of economists, political scientists, sociologists, historians, and others" engaged in "research programs relevant to four important areas of national policy: economic and political development, international communication, U.S.-Soviet Bloc relations, and American society in its world setting" (CENIS 1958, 1). The report concluded, however, that the center remained heavily dependent upon "short-term grants from the major foundations" and "U.S. government contracts," and needed long-term financial support of $2.24 million to hire core faculty in the behavioral social sciences and to fund ongoing research projects, fellowships, and academic scholarship (CENIS 1958, 1, 3, 29). Sustained funding was warranted because CENIS was a unique institution, one in which social scientists worked to expand human knowledge within an interdisciplinary setting — allowing individual scholars to harness their own "imagination, synthetic power, [and] insights" in ways that broke through the existing "common sense" (CENIS 1958, 7). After many months of proposal reviews and clarifications, the Ford Foundation granted the center a long-term funding grant of $850,000 (approximately $7.3 million in 2018) (Office of Public Relations 1959, 1). Between 1952 and 1961, the Ford Foundation would provide $2 million to support the "three I's study" (Blackmer 2002, 67). By 1969, the center had annual expenditures of nearly $1 million ($6.8 million in 2018), with funding coming from government departments and philanthropic foundations (primarily Ford) in roughly equal portions, and research covering a wide range of topics on issues of economic and political development.

The Center for International Studies at MIT was just one site within a rapidly changing world of American higher education. Prior to World War II, American colleges and universities received funding almost exclusively from student tuition, wealthy benefactors, and state governments. However, by the mid-1960s, the federal government — and the security apparatus in particular — had become the primary funder of higher education, creating nothing less than a "common-law marriage" between the federal government and leading universities (Kerr 2001, 37). This arrangement meant that universities no longer existed for the "training of 'gentlemen'" but instead preoccupied themselves fulfilling "national needs" (Kerr 2001, 36). This new relationship profoundly affected the production of academic knowledge within American higher education.

First of all, government and philanthropic funders transformed the social sciences into a standing reserve of expertise capable of being tapped in times of national need. This chapter demonstrates how, within the Cold War American university, the social sciences became a standing reserve of expert knowledge on issues concerning economic and security interests. Within the social sciences, this included producing academic knowledge and scholarly experts capable of knowing the contemporary non-Western world and international state system by enframing the world as a series of discrete national societies. As the collaboration between social scientists, philanthropic organizations, and the security apparatus increased during the Cold War, many scholars found themselves working within new, well-resourced fields of area studies, international studies, and International Relations, often with the expectation that such training would be made available as needed for national security purposes.

Second, this massive reorganization of the university — including the social sciences — meant that these new disciplines and well-funded centers, programs, journals, and professional organizations provided the material apparatuses within which it became possible to reimagine the world as composed of discrete national units, organized within an international system, and with the United States located at its center. At the unit level, the newly created area studies produced knowledge about the world as a series of national containers, each possessing a distinguishable national society, culture, and economy, and moving along a path toward modernization and maturation. At the systems level, the fields of International Relations and international studies reimagined the world as an international terrain within which these discrete national units operated. The assumed audience for both the unit- and systems-level analyses now included American foreign policy officials interested in harnessing such knowledge to expand American influence abroad, combat the Soviet Union, and tamp down on anticolonial insurgencies.

Within this milieu, modernization theory became one of the dominant new social scientific paradigms. As shown in this chapter, modernization theory provided a template for imagining the non-Western world as dividable into self-contained units that could be shepherded toward industrialization and democratization under the watchful eye of the United States. This imagined world stood in sharp contrast to the social scientific scholarship of the previous decades. Prior to World War II, the American academy was much smaller, whiter, more elite, and generally focused on American and European culture, history, society, politics, and economics. For example, during the first half of the twentieth century, the discipline of political science concerned itself primarily with understanding, advocating, and advancing American liberal democracy (Farr and Seidelman 1993, 107–12). In general, and with important exceptions (Vitalis 2015), American social scientists at major research universities prior to World War II demonstrated little interest in the contemporary non-Western world. However, the creation and transformation of area studies, International Relations, and international studies within the Cold War university created the possibility to produce knowledge about the entire world as a system of discrete nation-states, all traveling in the same direction. This imagined trajectory of modernization, not coincidentally, was the same end desired by American foreign policy experts.

This chapter examines how expanded government and philanthropic funding during the Cold War transformed the American social sciences into a site for the reproduction of modernization as a distinct national imaginary. The first section provides an overview of how the federal government and philanthropic organizations fundamentally reorganized the social sciences during the decades after World War II, including the shaping of area studies, International Relations, and international studies. This chapter then looks specifically at CENIS, and the work of W. W. Rostow particularly, as one example of how modernization as a national imaginary became widely produced and transmitted across these academic and policy circles.

Following World War II, the European imperial world order was severely challenged, including the colonial imaginaries accompanying it. Within this context, American universities — and area studies, international studies, and International Relations in particular — offered whole new fields of scholarship capable of reimagining the world, and America's new position, in ways useful to American policy makers, opinion makers, business leaders, and security experts. It was this vision of a world divided into discrete national economies and societies, and organized within an international political order, that, by the 1980s and 1990s, scholars of globalization would come to challenge.

War Mobilization and American Higher Education

The United States has never had a federal university system due to a strong cultural and political commitment to states' rights. American higher education consists of a heterogeneous constellation of institutions: centuries-old elite private colleges and universities including Ivy League institutions, small liberal arts colleges, and historically black colleges and universities; massive land-grant institutions funded and governed by state governments; vocationally oriented state and community colleges; private research universities; and even for-profit institutions. Historically, the federal government abstained from investing in higher education directly, choosing instead to leave university education to the discretion of states and private institutions. In fact, prior to World War II, direct federal funding to higher education was limited to a small handful of vocational and extension programs, the occasional wartime mobilization, and special programs developed during the Great Depression (Axt 1952, chapter 4). During and after World War II, however, massive federal funding — in the form of tuition payments and agency grants — dramatically expanded the size and operating capacity of American colleges and universities. As a result, between 1945 and 1975, the number of undergraduates in American universities increased 500 percent; graduate student enrollments skyrocketed 900 percent; and more academics were hired during the 1960s than during the previous 325-year history of American higher education combined (Menand 2010, 64–65).

Prior to World War II, efforts to employ academics to conduct government research involved contracting out specific studies, effectively hiring institutions to complete discrete research tasks. As head of the National Defense Research Council during World War II, Vannevar Bush invented the policy of distributing grants to individual researchers (rather than institutions), but still offering universities "generous overhead rate[s]" that would more than cover institutional expenses and therefore garner university support for faculty participating in wartime research (Lowen 1997, 50). As a result, many academic institutions became dependent upon federally funded research to subsidize all aspects of their operating budgets. By 1960, the federal government was funding higher education to a tune of $1 billion a year, with nearly 80 percent going to twenty elite universities. At Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech, MIT, and Harvard, for example, federal funding accounted for half of the research budgets, and between 15 and 80 percent of the overall operating budgets (Lowen 1997, 147–48).

This was part of a mass military mobilization of American higher education. During the war, the Office of Scientific Research and Development organized scientists, university physicists, chemists, and engineers to develop the scientific inventions widely credited with winning the war, including the atomic bomb, radar, and rocket propulsion, as well as life-saving medical breakthroughs such as penicillin and blood transfusion technology (Bush 1945; Cole 2009, 86–89). Coordinated by the Office of War Information, psychologists served in military units conducting psychological warfare (Needell 1998, 5). The Office of Statistical Control drew upon statisticians — including the young Harvard Business School professor Robert McNamara (see chapter 2) — to apply advanced statistical and computation techniques to logistical questions. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) — the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency — recruited social scientists to provide interdisciplinary area-specific knowledge (Soley 1995, 77; Cumings 2002, 268). To this end, the OSS's Research and Analysis (R&A) branch "employed prominent historians, economists, sociologists, diplomats and other experts" organized into geographical units, with different groups focusing on Europe and Africa, the Far East, USSR, and Latin America (Liptak 2009, 17). By the end of the war, the R&A division had produced "3 million 3×5 cards, 300,000 captioned photographs, 300,000 classified intelligence documents, one million maps, 350,000 foreign serial publications, 50,000 books, thousands of biographical files and 3,000 research studies" (Liptak 2009, 17, 19). Ivy League institutions became the primary recruiting grounds for the OSS (Winks 1987), leaving Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to note that, by 1942, the R&A branch had "raided" almost the entire faculty of the Harvard history department (Schlesinger 1992, 62; see also Smith 1972; Roosevelt 1976a, 1976b; Winks 1987; Chalou 1992). Many of the scholars who passed through the OSS and the Office of War Information created lasting professional connections that would propel them to the top of their academic fields after the war.

In addition to mobilizing university faculty for the war effort, the U.S. military also sent enlisted men to 227 university and college campuses for language training as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. This program brought together faculty from foreign languages, culture, history, and other subjects to provide the basic language training and cultural familiarity required to "make communication between occupier and occupied easier" (Bendix 2003, 39; see also Hall 1947, 1; Fenton 2008, 264). These training programs proved so popular among university faculty that many programs remained in place even after the army stopped funding them in 1945. In many instances, these cross-disciplinary collaborations became the nucleus of campus area-studies programs.

At war's end, the "knowledge machine" mobilized to combat the Axis powers was never "dismantled," but rather "became the key adjunct to the permanent military economy of the Cold War" (Aronowitz 2000, 38). In 1945, Vannevar Bush published the FDR-commissioned seminal report Science: The Endless Frontier, arguing that the federal government should make sustained financial contributions to universities in the name of national defense and economic growth. Making science analogous to settler colonialism, Bush argued, "Science offers a largely unexplored hinterland for the pioneer who has the tools for his task. The rewards of such exploration both for the Nation and the individual are great. Scientific progress is one essential key to our security as a nation, to our better health, to more jobs, to a higher standard of living, and to our cultural progress" (1945, 2; see also Lewontin 1997, 12–18; Cole 2009, 86, 106). Bush recommended that the federal government create a national foundation that would "develop and promote a national policy for scientific research" (1945, 34), a policy that would come to fruition in 1950 with the formation of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF effectively channeled federal resources to university researchers, thereby incentivizing certain research agendas and providing resources for the massive expansion of higher education. The success of the NSF led to the expansion and creation of additional government funding agencies, including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Office of Naval Research, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), thus unleashing a tidal wave of federal funding into American higher education. While the government spent a meager $13 million on university research in 1940 (almost all on agricultural studies), a decade later fourteen federal agencies combined to fund academic research to the tune of $150 million (Axt 1952, 85–86). Within the social sciences, 96 percent of federal government funding came from the military (Washburn 2005, 43).


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Table of Contents

Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xvii
Introduction: Globalization and the World  1
Part I. Reproducing the National Imaginary
1. "Creative Imagination" Is Needed: W. W. Rostow and the Rose of Modernization as a National Imaginary  29
2. The World's Largest . . . Development Institution: Robert McNamara and the National Development Imaginary  62
Part II. Marketing the Global Imaginary
3. Marketing Can Be Magic: Theodore Levitt and Globalization as a Market Imaginary  83
4. Realities of the Global Economy: A. W. Clausen and the Banker's Global Imaginary  118
Part III. Reproducing the Global University
5. Stakeholders and Co-Investors . . . Have "Reform" on Their Mind: Kenneth Prewitt and the Defunding of Area Studies  141
6. An Opportunity to Transform the University, and, Frankly, the World: John Sexton and the Global Networked University  168
Conclusion: Reworlding the Global  189
Notes  195
References  231
Index  269

What People are Saying About This

White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations - Robert Vitalis

“We take the concept of globalization for granted now. What Isaac A. Kamola does in this brilliant book is show how business schools, the World Bank, and auxiliaries in the social sciences made it so, while displacing an earlier, equally naturalized imaginary of independent countries ‘developing’ along a common path. Making the World Global is essential reading at a moment when the coherence of this global imaginary is in question.”

Beyond Eurocentrism and Anarchy: Memories of International Order and Institutions - Siba N. Grovogui

“Isaac A. Kamola offers a compelling look at the rise of globalization as a focus of politics and knowledge production in the academy. Linking the globalization of the African university to the globalization of politics and the academy in the United States is as insightful as it is revelatory.”

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