Fletcher appoints International History and Politics Scholar

Dr. Elisabeth Leake to serve as Lee Dirks Chair in Diplomatic History
Headshot of Prof. Leake wearing ablue shirt

Fletcher is pleased to announce that Dr. Elisabeth Leake will join the school’s faculty as the Lee E. Dirks Chair in Diplomatic History, beginning Aug. 1, 2022. She will also join the school’s Murrow Center on Public Diplomacy.

With an extensive background in the history and politics of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, Dr. Leake brings to Fletcher expertise in South and Southwest Asia, global decolonization, and her teaching emphasizes the role of non-state actors in diplomacy and international relations. She comes to Medford from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, where she was an associate professor of international history from 2016-2022. She previously held a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Royal Holloway, University of London.

"I am thrilled to welcome a scholar of Dr. Leake's stature to Fletcher,” said Rachel Kyte, dean of The Fletcher School. “She is a superb addition to our faculty and the specific expertise, teaching and research will strengthen our commitment to interdisciplinary enquiry in pursuit of our mission. Diplomacy has been at the heart of Fletcher from its founding and its critical place in understanding the world is as essential today as it was almost 90 years ago.” 

Dr. Leake’s research focuses broadly on the relationship between decolonization and the Cold War, and more specifically on the intersections between South Asian and international history. She focuses on state-building in postcolonial India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and these countries’ interactions with foreign powers such as the US and the UK. Of particular interest are borderlands as spaces of contested sovereignty where local non-state actors come into conflict with state authorities and foreign interests.

She has been widely published and is the author of two monographs; The Defiant Border: The Afghan-Pakistan Borderlands in the Era of Decolonization, 1936-65, and Afghan Crucible: The Soviet Invasion and the Making of Modern Afghanistan which will be published by Oxford University Press this summer.

Her articles have appeared in such journals as Modern Asian Studies, Journal of Contemporary History, the Journal of Asian Studies, International History Review, and Historical Journal.

Dr. Leake is also one of the organizers of New International Histories of South Asia, a research and public engagement network that explores South Asia’s global engagement in historical context.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to join Fletcher and particularly to work with students and colleagues on initiatives to internationalize and decolonize the study of diplomacy and international history,” said Leake.

A Colorado native, she trained as a historian at Yale University and the University of Cambridge, where she completed her PhD in 2013.

Follow Dr. Leake on Twitter: @elisabeth_leake