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DIALOGIC @ ACJC: History, Humanities, Human Ties
On the evening of 2nd April 2013, ACJC was host to a very special guest, Associate Professor Malcolm Murfett, as part of DIALOGIC: The ACJC Distinguished Guest Lectures in History Series. Prof. Murfett, who is a lecturer at the National University of Singapore History Department, was invited to examine the nature of Anglo-American relations in the context of the end of the Cold War. Students and teachers from more than seven different colleges from around the island, as well as our own students, packed LT1 to listen to Prof. Murfett.
Prof. Murfett proved to be an enthralling lecturer, providing us with a nuanced and detailed breakdown of the various diplomatic exchanges between the USA and the UK in the 1980s. Of particular interest to many of us was the case study of how the USA and Britain intervened in political crises in Grenada and the Falkland Islands respectively, and how both states responded to each other’s adventurism. After the lecture, Prof. Murfett engaged the participants in a Question & Answer session that summarized some of the major concerns of the talk. For History students such as myself, it was the perfect supplement.
The Anglo-American relationship is testament to how History deepens our understanding of the role of personalities in international relations. Even prominent leaders like Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1979 - 1990) and Ronald Reagan (President of the United States, 1981 - 1988) allowed their policies to be shaped by personal convictions rather than pure realpolitik. The instrumental role of Thatcher and Reagan in forging Anglo-American relations in the 1980s was a clear sign that one cannot dehumanize international politics. Personal connections and disagreements are inextricable from diplomacy.
To the uninitiated, History may sometimes appear as a mere chronicle with little relevance to the present. However, Prof. Murfett dispelled this notion today by showing us that History is also a detailed analysis and interpretation of the ties between leaders and how this impacts our world. This lecture was refreshing as it opened our eyes to what the study of History and the Humanities as a whole truly entails—the study of human ties and the human condition.
Stella Darmawan, 2AH