Arne Westad, recently named as the Elihu Professor of History, is a scholar of modern international and global history who specializes in the history of eastern Asia since the 18th century.
Westad studied history, philosophy, and modern languages at the University of Oslo before earning a graduate degree in U.S. and international history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He is the author of 16 books, most of which deal with 20th-century Asian and global history.
Early in his career, Westad was mainly preoccupied with the history of the Cold War, China-Russia relations, and the history of the Chinese civil war and the Chinese Communist Party. He published two monographs: “Cold War and Revolution,” which deals with U.S. and Soviet intervention in the Chinese Civil War in 1944-1946; and “Decisive Encounters,” which is a general history of the Chinese civil war and the Communist victory in the period from 1946 to 1950. He also edited several books on Sino-Soviet and Cold War history topics.
Since the mid-2000s, Westad has been concerned with more general aspects of post-colonial and global history, as well as the modern history of China. His three key works from this period are “The Global Cold War,” which argues for ways of understanding the Soviet-American conflict in light of late- and post-colonial change in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean; “Restless Empire,” which discusses broad trends in China’s international history since 1750; and “The Cold War: A World History,” which summarizes the origins, conduct, and results of the conflict on a global scale.
Today Westad is mainly interested in researching histories of empire and imperialism, primarily in Asia, but also worldwide. He is also trying to determine how China’s late 20th-century economic reforms came into being and how their results changed the global economy.
Westad joined the Yale faculty after teaching at the London School of Economics, where he was School Professor of International History, and at Harvard University, where he was the S.T. Lee Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations. He is a fellow of the British Academy and of several other national academies.