Nicholas Dirks, history prof

Above, Chancellor-designate NIcholas Dirks waits as he’s introduced by Ethan Shagan, chair of the history department, at a Tuesday afternoon colloquium. “Today we welcome him not as chancellor,” Shagan told a receptive audience of some 75 fellow professors and graduate students, “but as a new member of the Department of History and the Department of Anthropology.” Dirks, who had asked Shagan for the opportunity to address the faculty as a colleague, rather than as an administrator standard procedure for recent hires who don’t happen to be incoming chancellors titled his hourlong talk “Scholars and Spies: World War II and the Emergence of South Asian Area Studies,” a current research topic. Populating his narrative with figures ranging from Roosevelt and Churchill to Herbert Marcuse and Julia Child, Dirks outlined the close ties between prominent academics and U.S. intelligence agencies during the 1940s and ’50s, and the “profound impact” those connections would have on American intellectual life and particularly on his own field of South Asian studies.