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Dr Patrick Hagopian

Honorary Researcher

Patrick Hagopian

Bowland College



Tel: +44 1524 592393

Research overview

The Vietnam War; U.S. Military Justice and Constitutional Law; War and Commemoration; The Representation of the History of Race and Slavery in Museums and Commemorative Sites; International Law and War Crimes; Oral History; Memory; Military Veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PhD supervision

Patrick Hagopian would like to hear from potential doctoral students interested in projects involving Critical Studies of Museums and Memorials; Cultural and Social Memory; Twentieth-Century Cultural Politics; Military Justice and Human Rights Law; Cold War and Post-Cold War Military Discourses; and Representations of the History of Race and Slavery.

Current Teaching

HIST 256: The United States and the Vietnam War

HIST 257: After Vietnam: Remembering, Representing and Refighting the “Bad War”

HIST 366: The Politics of Memory: The Contested Past in Museums, Monuments, and Minds

Career Details

After obtaining his BA in American Studies at Sussex University, Hagopian did his post-graduate work in the United States, where he studied Communications (MA, Pennsylvania) and History (PhD, Johns Hopkins). He then took up a postdoctoral fellowship in American Material Culture at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, before returning to teach American Studies in Britain.

Research Interests

Patrick Hagopian's research interests are in American memory (the representation of the past in museums and public monuments, popular expressions of the past in oral histories, and the intersection between individual memory and communal representations of the past); the Vietnam War; and military justice and international law.

In 2015 Hagopian was Patricia and Phillip Frost Senior Research Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, pursuing a project titled "The Concept of the Heroic in Recent Commemorative Public Sculpture in Washington, DC." The research project builds on Hagopian's work on the commemoration of the Vietnam War and on his article, "The Korean War Veterans Memorial and Problems of Representation," published in Public Art Dialogue in 2012. It encompasses the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.

Hagopian's book American Immunity: War Crimes and the Limits of International Law (University of Massachusetts Press) was published in 2013. Allan A Ryan, reviewing the book for the Journal of American History, described the book as "important and insightful," providing a "careful reconstruction of events," "comprehensive but concise," "impressively documented by primary sources" and "an important and troubling story."

American Immunity deals with the jurisdictional gap that for decades prevented military veterans from being prosecuted in any U.S. court for crimes they were alleged to have committed outside the United States. This gap in the law prevented the prosecution of 90 percent of the perpetrators of the My Lai massacre, the most notorious American-perpetrated atrocity of the Vietnam War. Ryan refers to "Hagopian's first-rate account" of this episode.

The jurisdictional gap widened when the Supreme Court ruled that it encompassed civlian dependants, employees, and contractors of the armed forces except in "time of war"; a military appeals court determined in 1970 that "time of war" applied only to wars declared by Congress. This holding prevented the prosecution of torturers at Abu Ghraib who were not in the armed forces or employed by the Department of Defense. The jurisdictional gaps were closed by laws enacted in 2000 and 2006; the book shows, however, that the statutes have been used only rarely, in particularly egregious cases such as the "Bloody Sunday" massacre by Blackwater contractors in Iraq; and that the motives of some of the advocates of the new laws were not solely to allow criminals to be prosecuted but also to retain primary U.S. jurisdiction over American citizens and nationals and thereby to prevent them from being called to surrender to the jurisdiction of foreign or international courts.

Hagopian has presented papers based on the research in American Immunity and command criminal responsibility at the Institute for Historical Research, University of London; Johns Hopkins University; American University; and the Institute for the Sociology of the Law, Onati, Spain.

Hagopian's book titled The Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing was published by the University of Massachusetts Press (2009). The book was a Choice "outstanding academic title" for 2009 and was an honorable mention in the 2010 American Studies Network Book Prize awarded by the European Association for American Studies.

"Hagopian . . . offers a particularly telling critique of the 'apolitical' healing and reconciliation themes associated with the [Vietnam Veterans M]emorial, arguing cogently that this result was achieved at the cost of avoiding, forgetting, or covering up many of the most important aspects of the war . . . . This is among the most important books on the Vietnam War published in the last decade." Choice, December 2009.

"Patrick Hagopian has written a wonderful book. . . . The research in Hagopian's study is wide-ranging and impressive, and a number of the issues he examines, such as his analysis of the much-under-studied Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, clearly sets his book apart from other excellent works on postwar memory and commemoration." The Public Historian, February 2010.

"Combining history, cultural analysis and heritage studies, this erudite analysis is steeped in thorough primary source research. In particular, we were impressed with the way the author dissects historical representations of the past as part and parcel of efforts to perpetuate historical amnesia." American Studies Network Book Prize committee, March 2010.

Hagopian's research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Smithsonian Institution, the American Historical Association, the US Air Force Historical Research Agency, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the British Academy, and the Arts and Humanities Research Board. His other publications include "The 'Lessons' of the Vietnam War" in Max Friedman and Padraig Kenney, Partisan Histories: The Past in Contemporary Global Politics (Palgrave, 2005); "Vietnam War Photography as Locus of Memory," in Annette Kuhn and Kirsten McAllister, Locating Memory: Photographic Acts (Berghahn Books, 2006); "Interchange: Legacies of the Vietnam War" (co-author), Journal of American History Vol. 93, no. 2 (September 2006); "The Abu Ghraib Photographs and the State of America: Defining Images" in Louise Purbrick, Jim Aulich and Graham Dawson, ed., Contested Spaces: Sites, Representations and Histories of Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); and "The 'Frustrated Hawks,' Tet 1968, and the Transformation of American Politics," European Journal of American Studies (2008) special issue on May 1968, [http://ejas.revues.org/document7193.html].

His current projects are a monograph on oral narratives of the Vietnam War, contracted for publication with the University of Massachusetts Press; a monograph on command criminal responsibility for the My Lai massacre; and a publication on commemorative public sculpture in Washington, DC.

He particularly welcomes applications from research students interested in the Vietnam War; politics, conflict, and memory; and public representations of the international history of race and slavery.

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