Exploring the collections: Papers of Karl Wolfgang Deutsch

Profiles

A new series looking at the library materials used by HYI Visiting Scholars for their research

We spoke with Prof. Kasira Cheeppensook (Chulalongkorn University) to learn about the materials she is using to carry out her research on “Security Community in Southeast Asia: A Postcolonial study.”

Could you introduce your research project at HYI?

My research projects concerns the concept of security community and its implications for Southeast Asia. The concept was born out of a research project in late 1940s aiming to explore the possibility of peaceful community of states in the North Atlantic area, and the factors contributing to such community. One of the key researchers in the project was Professor Karl W. Deutsch, a Harvard Faculty member.

What materials in the library have been especially helpful for you?

Apart from the rich secondary sources available from the Harvard libraries, I benefited from materials in Harvard University Archives, located in the Pusey library. Since Professor Deutsch was the Stanfield Professor of International Peace at Harvard University, the University ended up storing large volume of his documents known as Papers of Karl Wolfgang Deutsch, 1919, 1938-1990. The collection ranged from academic correspondences, teaching notes, manuscripts (some unpublished) and research materials. This provided great insights into the ideational construction and the context that helped shape the concept of security community.

Can you give a few examples of interesting findings in these library materials?

How some of the seemingly well-known ideas employed in the discipline in general such as “history”, “the West”, and “the East” were constructed and interpreted in Professor Deutsch’s handwritten teaching notes as well as manuscripts were quite illuminating and reminded us that theoretical concepts could not be surgically removed from historical contexts from where they originated. Since Harvard University Archives need to grant permission for the materials published, you have to find out more in my forthcoming research article!

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