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History professor speaks at U.S. State Department

April 19, 2018

 

IAN GONZALES

Staff Reporter | iqg001@latech.edu

 

A Louisiana Tech history professor and author was recently invited by the chief librarian at the Ralph J. Bunche Library, the country’s oldest federal library, to give a speech to the U.S. State Department.

 

Andrew McKevitt, an assistant professor in Tech’s department of history gave a 40-minute speech on April 4 to the U.S. State Department on how American fears with Japan during the 1980s could be translated into our current anxieties concerning China’s growing economic influence.

 

“The library invites authors of new books on U.S. foreign relations history to speak to employees at the State Department, who might be foreign service officers or desk officers working on policy research regarding specific countries,” McKevitt said.

 

McKevitt released his book, “Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of 1980s America,” in October 2017. “Consuming Japan” examines the relations between the United States and Japan during the 1970s and 1980s.

 

McKevitt examines these relations by observing how America’s fascination with Japanese products, such as cars, electronics and anime, had an impact on the overall relations between the two countries and how it altered the lives of Americans during the age of globalization.

 

McKevitt has been at the university since 2012. He teaches several history classes, one of which being History 102.

 

Micheal McCrary, a sophomore computer science major, is a student of McKevitt’s History 102 class. McCrary is a fan of McKevitt’s class, citing both his vast knowledge of history and interesting lectures as reasons why.

 

“His class is very straightforward, but he manages to make it interesting in his own odd way of teaching,” McCrary said.“Kind of like a more edgy Robin Williams in ‘Dead Poets Society’.”

 

Another one of his students is Bailey Stevenson, a sophomore French major, who also has McKevitt for History 102. Stevenson said McKevitt’s charisma contributes to his enjoyment of his class.

 

“I would definitely recommend his class if you had the chance to take it,” Stevenson said. “He makes those two hours very interesting.”

 

McKevitt has begun work on a new project that seeks to understand the history of gun violence and how it has played a major role in United States relations since the 1970s.

 

“I got interested in the topic by doing some work on a 1992 incident in which a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student named Yoshi Hattori was shot to death in Baton Rouge when he knocked on the wrong door at Halloween,” McKevitt said. “The incident prompted international outrage, especially in Japan, and really drew into relief the differences between the United States’ approach to gun violence and how the rest of the developed world has dealt with this problem.”

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