History International Relations Coursework Columbia

Allison Powers is a legal historian of the United States in the World and a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Columbia. She joined the doctoral program in 2011 after receiving a B.A. in History with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching interests include nineteenth and twentieth-century United States History, U.S.-Latin America Relations, and International History. She is currently a 2016-2017 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow and serves as rapporteur for the Columbia University Seminar on Twentieth Century Politics and Society.

Her dissertation, Settlement Colonialism: Law, Arbitration, and Compensation in United States Expansion, 1868-1941, explains how international disputes over the legal foundations of U.S. imperial expansion became sites of political struggle over the distributive consequences of the American justice system. Between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth, the U.S. submitted to a series of international tribunals designed to award market value compensation for loss of life and property resulting from the wave of territorial annexations that transformed the nation from a set of contiguous states into a global empire. These claims commissions created a legal framework for expansion by characterizing colonial dispossession as a form of monetary exchange that could be retroactively settled through arbitration. This model then came into crisis when foreign nationals living in United States territories turned to the process of claims settlement to argue that the U.S. government sanctioned forms of state violence and labor coercion in violation of the international legal norms known as the “standard of civilization.” By demonstrating how claimants used these tribunals to question the government’s ability to protect life and property within its borders, the dissertation uncovers a forgotten moment of struggle over the limits and possibilities of international law to address structural injustices within the American legal system.

Research for this project has been funded by a Littleton-Griswold Grant from the American Historical Association, a Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, a Field Research Grant from Columbia’s Institute for Latin American Studies, and an International Travel Fellowship from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. At Columbia, Allison has worked as a Lehman Research Fellow at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, as Graduate Student Coordinator for the Double Discover Center’s Freedom and Citizenship Program, and as an advisor in the American Studies Department. As a Teaching Fellow, she has explored histories of the United States and Latin America with students through courses including Latin American Civilization I, Science and Technology in the U.S., Modern France and its Empire, The Making of the Modern American Landscape, and The Modern Caribbean.

Office Hours

Tuesday and Thursday 1-2pm & By Appointment



Ph.D. – Yale University, 2008
B.A. – University of Pennsylvania, 1996


Interests and Research

Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, Dorothy Borg Associate Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia, specializes in the Vietnam War, U.S.-Southeast Asian relations, and the global Cold War. Professor Nguyen is currently working on a comprehensive history of the 1968 Tet Offensive for RandomHouse. She is the general editor of the forthcoming Cambridge History of the Vietnam War, 3 vols., as well as co-editor of the Cambridge Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations.



  • The Vietnam War
  • The United States and East Asia
  • The Wars for Indochina
  • Southest Asia & the World



  • National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Grant, 2016.
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Stuart L. Bernath Memorial Lecture Prize, 2015.
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, 2013.
  • Society for Military History Edward M. Coffman Prize for best military history manuscript, 2012.
  • Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57 Postdoctoral Fellow in Grand Strategy, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2009-2010.
  • International Seminar on Decolonization Fellow, National History Center, American Historical Association, Summer 2009.
  • John M. Olin Postdoctoral Fellow for Military History and Strategy, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2008-2009.
  • John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies Pre-doctoral Fellow, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2005-2006.
  • Center for International Security and Cooperation Pre-doctoral Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, 2004-2005.



  • Member, Editorial Board, The Journal of Vietnam Studies
  • Member, Editorial Board, International Studies Security Forum
  • Member, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • Member, Association of Asian Studies



Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

Tet 1968: The Battles that Changed the Vietnam War and the Global Cold War (New York: Random House, 2018).

Cambridge History of the Vietnam War, 3 vols. (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Scholarly Articles

“Revolutionary Circuits: Toward Internationalizing America in the World,” Diplomatic History 39, Issue 3 (June 2015): 411-422.

“1968: Negotiating While Fighting or Just Fighting?” in Eds. Pierre Journoud and Cécile Menétrey-Monchau, Vietnam, 1968-1976: Exiting a War (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2011).

“The Vietnam Decade: The Global Shock of the War,” in Eds. Niall Ferguson, Charles Maier, Erez Manela, and Daniel Sargent, Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).

“Waging War on All Fronts: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Vietnam War, 1969-1972” in Eds. Fredrik Logevall and Andrew Preston, Nixon in the World: American Foreign Relations, 1969-1977 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

“Cold War Contradictions: Toward an International History of the Second Indochina War, 1969-1973” in Eds. Mark Philip Bradley and Marilyn B. Young, Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars: Local, National and Transnational Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

“Sino-Vietnamese Split in the Post-Tet War in Indochina, 1968-1975” in Eds. Sophie Quinn-Judge and Odd Arne Westad, The Third Indochina War: Conflict between China, Vietnam and Cambodia, 1972-1979 (London: Routledge Press, 2006).

“Vietnamese Perceptions of the French-Indochina War” in Eds. Fredrik Logevall and Mark Lawrence,Indochina in the Balance: New Perspectives on the First Vietnam War.  (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).

“The War Politburo: Vietnam’s Diplomatic and Political Road to the Tet Offensive,” Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1, nos. 1-2 (February/August 2006).

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