Expert on Covert Operations to Discuss US Global Power at UM

September 21, 2016

MISSOULA – A professor known for writing about secret services, politics and the world order will speak at the University of Montana as part of the 2016-17 President’s Lecture Series.

 Alfred W. McCoy, the Fred Harvey Harrington Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present “Surveillance and the Future of U.S. Global Power” at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in the University Center Ballroom. The lecture is the Ezio Cappadocia Memorial Lecture on Politics and History.

McCoy also will lead the seminar “Showdown in the South China Sea: Beijing and Washington Struggle for Domination of the ‘World Island’” from 3 to 4:30 p.m. the same day in Gallagher Business Building Room 123. The lecture and seminar both are free and open to the public.

McCoy received a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian history at Yale University in 1977. His first book, “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia,” sparked controversy in 1972 when the CIA tried to block publication. After three editions and translations into nine foreign languages, the book now is regarded as a foundational work on global drug traffic.

More recently, McCoy’s work has included studies on U.S. covert operations. “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror” explores the agency’s half-century history of using psychological torture. A film based in part on the book, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008.

McCoy’s latest monograph on covert operations, “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation,” explores America’s post-9/11 debate over interrogation practices.

Additionally, McCoy is regarded as the foremost American expert on the history of the Philippines, three times having won that country’s National Book Award. In 2001, the association of Asian Studies awarded him the Goodman Prize for “a deep and enduring impact on Philippine Historical Studies.”

The best-known of his earlier works on the Philippines is “Closer than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy,” in which he analyzes the corrosive impact of torture on the Philippine military. “Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State” draws together his interests in covert operations and modern Philippine history. In 2011, the Association for Asian Studies awarded the book the George McT. Kahin Prize.

Current work by McCoy explores the influence of criminal syndicates and secret services in shaping the politics of modern states and the world order. He is in the process of publishing articles on surveillance and U.S. global power.

The President’s Lecture Series at UM consists of eight talks throughout the academic year on vital topics by distinguished guest speakers. For more information on the series, visit http://umt.edu/president/events/lectures/ or call UM history Professor Richard Drake at 406-243-2981.

Contact: Richard Drake, UM history professor and lecture series organizer, 406-243-2981, richard.drake@umontana.edu.