Issue: # 5
August 2009
In This Issue
Welcome Back
Obama's Grandmother
Sheila Nair: Notes from the Field
Upcoming Events
August 24
Classes Begin

September 3-6
APSA Conference

September 7
Labor Day Holiday

Quick Links
Dept Blog
Dept Website
Dept on Facebook

Welcome Back! 

Faculty Picture 2009

Faculty from the Department of Politics & International Affairs welcome everyone back for Fall semester 2009!

Two new scholars have joined the department this year: Dr. Hamideh Sedghi and Michael Lerma. Hamideh is internationally knSedghi and Lermaown for her research on gender and the Middle East. She will be teaching Middle East Politics classes in the department. Michael Lerma is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Arizona. He will be teaching Native American Politics courses for the department. Four half-time instructors will be teaching with us as well: Dr. Gretchen Gee (International Relations), Dr. Naomi Piņion (Women and Politics), Sayeed Ahmed (International Relations), and Mark Montoya (Ph.D. candidate, Border Politics).

Drs. Geeta Chowdhry and Steve Wright are on sabbatical this year. Geeta will be conducting research while living in India. Steve plans to travel abroad several times for his research this year. Dr. Sheila Nair is teaching in San Sebastian, Spain Fall semester. When Sheila returns, Dr. Lori Poloni leaves for Austria to begin working in March with the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar.

The department is healthy and growing. We have more undergraduate majors than ever, classes are filling up quickly, our graduate student body is expanding, and we graduated a record number of Ph.D.'s this past year. Despite the challenging budget situation, we continue to move forward in providing a quality education to our students and recruiting the best faculty in the nation. This year, look for the department to revise curriculum for our Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science.

Stay tuned. There's a lot more ahead!!
Eric Otenyo Meets
Barack Obama's Grandmother

Otenyo and Obama Grandmother "

Dr. Eric Otenyo of the Department of Politics & International Affairs visited with Mrs. Sarah Obama, President Barack Obama's grandmother, while visiting Kenya with this family this summer.

Eric traveled to Mrs. Obama's modest homestead, down rugged roads, past police protection provided by the Kenyan government, to meet Mrs. Obama in Kogelo Village where she lives today. While Eric didn't have an appointment, he speaks the same language as Mrs. Obama (Luo), and was able to establish a friendly relationship wtih her from the start.

Most impressive to Eric was Mrs. Obama's dedication to providing a quality education to all children. For Mrs. Obama, this education involves teaching children the native language of their culture.

On the theme of education, Eric reminisced about this encounter with Mrs. Obama where he learned that the  "President's parents made the decision that it was in Obama's interest to remain in the USA to pursue a quality education. Obama praised her relatives in the USA for raising her grandson into a great man."

Eric's children and brother were also on hand for the meeting. The family left the meeting with Mrs. Obama honored to have met the President's grandmother and impressed with Obama's connection to Kenya and all people from Africa.
Notes from the Field:
Sheila Nair Writes About Her Trip To
Vietnam and Cambodia this Summer

My trip to Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon) in Vietnam, and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia, was designed to explore opportunities for a study tour of these cities for NAU students. It was sponsored by the Center for International Education at NAU. I visited major landmarks including the (Vietnam) War Remnants Museum, which chronicles the war through the lens of international news photographers, several of whom were killed in the war. The Museum also displays artifacts such as American tanks, fighter planes et al, and replicas of prison cages and cells used by the South Vietnamese.
Another historical landmark here is the Reunification Palace, the site of a symbolic crashing through the gates by the North Vietnamese army in April 1975. The Palace, now a museum although some of its hal
Vietnam Muralls are still used for meetings and functions, was formerly the residence of South Vietnamese leaders. The basement is a labyrinth of rooms with large, old maps of Vietnam, and communications equipment used by the South Vietnamese government during the war.  I also toured the Cu Chi tunnels constructed by Viet Nam Cong San (Viet Cong) to fight the war against the South Vietnamese army and U.S. forces.
In Phnom Penh, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh and Choeung Ek, also known as the Killing Fields Museum, which display evidence of the killings and torture of civilians and others by the Khmer Rouge, were po
werful reminders of the horrific acts of violence states are capable of enacting. Those interested in Tuol Sleng can access this web site, http:/Cambodia 2/ Casting a different light on Cambodian history is the Angkor temple complex, viewed as one of the wonders of the ancient world, and a stunning reminder of Southeast Asia's wondrous and complicated history.
Cambodia 1
Finally, on a research note, Southeast Asia is my regional specialization in comparative politics/international relations. I had an opportunity to meet and converse with individuals knowledgeable about non-governmental/civil society initiatives. I thus also obtained a glimpse of the relationship between civil society actors, transnational groups, and the state in Cambodia in the context of post-Khmer Rouge reconstruction.

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