Cody J. Foster

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  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Presidential Fellow
  • History
1761 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D., University of Kentucky (Expected 2018)

M.Phil, University of Cambridge (Queens' College), 2013

B.A., Indiana University, 2012


Cody J. Foster is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Kentucky where he studies contemporary U.S. History and America in the World. He is currently examining the ways in which global discussions about human rights and war crimes helped to create a transnational anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. He has contributed articles to The Journal of the Historical Society, Essays in History, ​and Passport, has written think pieces for The Huffington Post, History News Network, Counterpunch, ​and The Lexington-Herald Leader, and has been featured in the USA Today, The New York Times,  and The Courier-Journal. He holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Indiana University and an M.Phil. in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge.


Advisor: Dr. Lien-hang Nguyen (Columbia University)

My dissertation examines the International War Crimes Tribunal (IWCT) as a transnational space of resistance whereby non-state actors from around the world extended the spirit of the Nuremberg Tribunals by staging a people’s trial to publicize US war crimes in Vietnam and collectively resist American unipolarity and oppression abroad. In order to account for the global interconnectivity of these transnational activists, my dissertation relies on a multi-archival and multi-lingual source base from archives in the US, Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands as well as published material from Cuba, Denmark, Sweden, France, and Vietnam. Additionally, this dissertation relies on previously unseen declassified documents released via a Freedom of Information Act request that I filed in 2016. Ultimately, I argue that the IWCT infused the global anti-Vietnam War movement with human rights ideas in ways that unified disparate activists who empathized with the Vietnamese experience. This study enlarges our understanding of the anti-war movement’s complexity by seeing not how factionalism destroyed the movement, but how shared differences unified the movement behind a common cause. It also challenges our understanding of the human rights movement by providing non-state actors with power in the 1960s instead of relegating it to NGOs during the 1970s. Finally, this project shows the importance of people’s tribunals as a form of resistance against top-down decision-making by state actors at the national and international level.

Cody's past research focused on America's Former Presidents. His Cambridge dissertation, "Herbert Hoover's Challenge to Interventionism, 1938-1941," argues that while Roosevelt crafted a more interventionist foreign policy, and as the isolationists and internationalists took polemic stances against these policies, Hoover used his post-presidential prestige to oppose interventionism and design a moderate approach rooted in the defense of liberty, democracy, freedom, and peace. In so doing, he created a unique non-interventionist approach that drew on ideas from the isolationist and internationalist movements in order to execute a global humanitarian mission that projected America's sense of democracy and liberalism into the hearts and minds of foreign citizens suffering from war. He challenged conventional wisdom by providing a pragmatic alternative to military intervention that thrived on support from a decentralized network of American volunteers. Parts of this dissertation were published in The Journal of the Historical Society, History News Network, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and the USA Today. 

Office Hours
Spring 2018: Tuesday 11:00-12:00 Thursday 3:00-4:00
Selected Publications: 

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“A Forgotten Catalyst: Herbert Hoover and the Creation of the Modern American Post-Presidency,” Journal of the Historical Society 13.1 (March 2013): 69-94.


Book Sections

“National Security Agency” in Paul I. Joseph, ed. The Sage Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives. New York: Sage Publications, forthcoming.

“The New Left,” in Andrew Hartman, ed., The College Researcher: The 1960s. Gale, forthcoming.

“William Westmoreland,” in Andrew Hartman, ed., The College Researcher: America in Vietnam. Gale, forthcoming.

“My Lai Massacre,” in Andrew Hartman, ed., The College Researcher: America in Vietnam. Gale, forthcoming.


Book Reviews

“America’s Identity Crisis,” review of Christian G. Appy, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity. New York: Viking, 2015 in Essays in History (2016)



See CV for more publications.

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