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About Dr Donna Jackson

As a dual national (American and British), my interest in American history is personal as well as professional.  My MA dissertation, on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, examined a key moment in American foreign policy that affected American politics and society on every level, and also touched my family.  Wanting to understand why and how the Vietnam War happened prompted a wider interest in understanding American foreign policy towards the developing world during the Cold War, and the efforts to avoid military conflict in foreign policy formulation.

My modules at the University of Chester reflect my background, and my belief in research-led teaching and cover a wide range of topics relating to American political, diplomatic, constitutional, social and cultural history (see Teaching tab for more details). 

In addition, I am involved in a community outreach project at St Peter’s Church, Woolton – where John Lennon first met Paul McCartney – and run the heritage social media for the Church (www.stpeterswoolton-heritage.com).  As a result of this, my students have worked on various projects for the Church and the National Trust that have received international recognition.

Before arriving at Chester in September 2007, I was employed on fixed-term contracts at the University of Cambridge, the University of East Anglia, Keele University, the University of Essex, the University of Nottingham, and Queen Mary, University of London, teaching a range of modules on American history and politics at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

I successfully completed my PhD on the Carter Administration and the Horn of Africa in July 2002, supervised by Dr John Thompson, and subsequently held the position of Research Fellow (non-stipendiary) at Wolfson College, Cambridge.  In addition I hold two degrees awarded by the University of East Anglia: a BA in American History and Politics (1993-1997), and a Masters with Distinction (1998).

Teaching

I contribute to the teaching of the following undergraduate modules:

  • The American Century, 1898-2001
  • The Past in the Present: An Introduction to Heritage
  • Europe and the Wider Word: Turning Points in History 1000-2000
  • The Mystery of History
  • Approaches to Black America: The Struggle for Racial Equality, 1865-1977
  • Historical Research: Methods and Practice
  • The Least Dangerous Branch?: The Supreme Court and the Shaping of Modern America
  • Dissertation supervision

In addition I contribute to the following postgraduate modules:

  • Research Skills and Methodology in History
  • The Vietnam War
  • Dissertation supervision

Postgraduate supervision

I invite enquiries concerning both MPhil and PhD research in the Department of History & Archaeology. I am particularly interested in students wishing to study all aspects of American-Soviet relations during the Cold War, American policy towards the developing world in the twentieth century, and any aspect of American Constitutional history.

Research

My current research centres upon the Senate debate over the ratification of the United Nations treaty in 1945.  While my work is in a very early stage, three clear themes have already emerged; why the US was willing to join a collective security organisation in 1945 when it had rejected the idea in 1919;  the bipartisan support for positive American leadership within the global community; and the role of Korea, both in 1945 and 1950.  The contrast between the attitudes and sense of responsibility between the Senate in 1945 and the Senate today is marked, and is a further theme that will be explored.

Previous research interests centred on American-Soviet relations during the Cold War, with particular concentration on the interaction between the American political system and foreign policy formulation, including the role of Congress and the impact of domestic politics and public opinion.

Within these larger themes, I was especially fascinated by American foreign policy towards Africa, as I believe that this is an interesting and often overlooked region where further research can provide a significant contribution to the understanding of American political and diplomatic history.  For example, my work on the Horn of Africa illustrated the difficulties and dilemmas faced by Jimmy Carter as he attempted to formulate foreign policy within the constraints of the Vietnam syndrome.

The region's proximity to the Middle East added to its geopolitical importance; human rights abuses were evident but Cold War concerns remained important and both themes were complicated by violations of international law and questions of post-colonialism and self-determination.  These issues were all examined in my latest monograph on American foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa during the Cold War (see Published Work section for more details).

Published Work

Published Work

Books

US Foreign Policy in the Horn of Africa: From Colonialism to Terrorism (London: Routledge, 2018)

Jimmy Carter, the Cold War and the Horn of Africa (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc, 2007)

Book Chapters

“The Oratory of Jimmy Carter” (co-authored with Robert Lehrman) in Crines, Moon and Lehrman (eds) Democratic Orators from JFK to Barack Obama (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Journal Articles

'The Carter Administration and Somalia' Diplomatic History (September, 2007)

'The Ogaden War and the Demise of Détente' The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (November 2010)

Other

Major contributor to Spencer Tucker (ed), The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2008)

"Ogaden" in John Stone et al. (eds) The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism (2016)

Qualifications

BA (UEA), MA (UEA), PhD (Cantab).