It is in the nature of humanity to forget its past. I try to make sure that people remember.
I am a professor in the Department of Political Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where my main area of research is the history of international thought. People often make the mistake of asking me where I am from, which is actually an impossible question for me to answer. having lived in four countries, while holding three nationalities, and with an immediate family born over three continents, where I am ‘from’ is complicated. I suppose I am one of those people Teresa May calls ‘citizens of nowhere’… No wonder I study international relations.
While my interest in space was forced upon me, my fascination with time was adopted voluntarily. Perhaps it is easier if you have been a ‘foreigner’ all your adult life to understand the past, since the past is a foreign country remembered only in fragments. My research has taken me on a journey in one particular corner of time and space: the history of international thought. The best way I can sum up researching in this field is through an analogy I used in the prologue of my 2014 book:
“Studying the past is like investigating the aftermath of an explosion. The pieces that can be put together to make a coherent story are spread in a seemingly random pattern. While some materials have evaporated entirely, or at best been left scorched and incomplete, others are present in their entirety, but are ripped up and spread around the site. You usually arrive on the scene after others have already tried to make sense of the scene, leaving behind attempts to reconstruct what had been present. These are the stories constructed by those who have already tried to reconstruct, in whole or in part, what had happened. Some have done their job well, while others have made leaps of logic that you now realise are wrong. Others still have made ill-informed assumptions about what had been there, and have failed to properly investigate the material. Even while piecing together what you find, you realise that the task in front of you keeps revealing an increasingly complex picture. You piece together what you can, draw your conclusions, but also realise that you don’t quite have all the information you need (and probably never will), and that perhaps someone someday will find something in the debris that you missed.”
My major publications (books, articles, & book chapters) can be accessed here: Ashworth publications