Meet 2021 Carnegie Fellow Tanisha Fazal, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?

The Carnegie Fellowship offers the gift of time. The book I’m writing engages multiple disciplines beyond political science – from history of medicine to policy analysis – and I’m extremely grateful to know that I’ll have the time to continue learning these other fields and, hopefully, do them justice. In addition, the fellowship will support several research trips and a book workshop. I’m especially excited to bring together scholars and practitioners across several disciplines to discuss my manuscript…once it’s drafted!

What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

An overarching theme of my scholarship is a focus on macro-historical change in international relations. In my earlier scholarship, I looked at change in the context of sovereignty, asking why and when states “die.” For that project, I was particularly interested in why state death had become rare. My most recent book looks at the evolution of international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war), and was inspired by the twin trends of declining usage of declarations of war and peace treaties in interstate war. These days, I have been looking at how changes in military medicine affect our understanding of the incidence of war over time. The book project I’ll be working on during my time as a Carnegie Fellow examines the development of military medicine in the US context; I argue that dramatic improvements in military medicine, alongside the historic expansion of the veterans’ benefits system, have increased the long-term downstream costs of war in ways that we tend not to appreciate. If people are interested in learning more about my work, I include descriptions of my research areas as well as links to publications on my website.

Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?

Here, I’d offer three pieces of advice. First, I find a lot of opportunities – for myself and for my students – on social media. I know that platforms like Twitter can seem intimidating, and even dangerous (in that it’s easy to lose time on them), but they can be professionally beneficial even if you just “lurk.” Second, apply widely. The only certainty when it comes to funding is that you won’t get it if you don’t apply. I also find that writing grant applications helps sharpen my arguments. And third, read the application instructions very carefully. Often, there are catchphrases you can include to signal to potential funders that you are responding to the prompts they care most about. Even if you don’t receive the funding, grantwriting is a skill, and one that is useful both inside and outside the academy.

Tanisha M. Fazal is professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. Her current research analyzes how improvements in medical care in conflict zones affect the long-term costs of war. She is the author of two award-winning books: State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation and Wars of Law: Unintended Consequences in the Regulation of Armed Conflict