Philippe Roman Chair

The Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs was made possible by a generous donation to honour the memory of Philippe Roman.

The impact that Ramachandra Guha has had on those lucky enough to share a hall with him has been profound.

Amol Rajan, The Independent

The chair was an annual visiting Professor position specifically for leading scholars based outside the UK, allowing IDEAS to bring together international expertise at the LSE.

Chair holders used the year to explore an idea or theme in history and international affairs. They each gave a series of four public lectures and taught a seminar for LSE students.

Below you can see the range of renowned scholars and listen to every Philippe Roman Chair public lecture:

Ian Morris on patterns of the past and the shape of things to come

A Theory of Everything: Evolution, History and the Shape of Things to Come

In the last 50 years, knowledge of archaeology, anthropology, history, evolution, genetics and linguistics has exploded. Biology and geography have driven a 150,000-year story of cooperation and competition. 

Ian Morris argues that by projecting forward the patterns of the past and the forces that disrupt them, we can begin to see where the 21st century might take us.

Twitter: #LSEMorris / Download Audio / Listen 

Each Age Gets the Great Powers It Needs: 20,000 Years of International Relations

Ian Morris traces the 20,000 year story of ‘International Relations’ asking why the world’s greatest powers were concentrated in western Eurasia until about AD 500, why they shifted to East Asia until AD 1750, why they returned to the shores of the North Atlantic, and where they will go next.

Twitter: #LSEMorris / Download Audio / Listen

Each Age Gets the Bloodshed It Needs: 20,000 Years of Violence

20,000 years ago, the average person stood a 10-20% chance of dying violently. Today, the chance is under 1%. How has this happened?

Ian Morris argues that violence has slowly been putting itself out of business, with war creating large organisations that impose peace.

Twitter: #LSEMorrisDownload Audio / Listen

Each Age Gets the Inequality It Needs: 20,000 Years of Hierarchy

Through most of history, humans lived in small groups with low hierarchy. The invention of farming increased the size of societies and inequality.

Ian Morris explains how the ways we capture energy from the environment has affected hierarchy and what that tells us about where inequality will go in the coming decades.

Twitter: #LSEMorrisDownload Audio / Listen


Professor Morris taught a seminar entitled Long-term History: The Patterns of the Past and the Shape of Things to Come during his time as Phillippe Roman Chair.

About Ian Morris

Professor Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor in Classics and Professor in History in the Department of Classics at Stanford University. He has authored a number of wide-ranging and award-winning books including Why the West Rules…For Now and War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, a provocative study of how war has changed human society for the better named a Book of the Year by the Financial Times in 2014.

Matthew Connelly on the history of American surveillance

The Radical Transparency of the American Republic

For most of its history, the U.S. government’s commitment to transparency stood as a radical counter-example to the rest of the world. Washington, Madison, and Lincoln were in some ways as radical as Julian Assange in their commitment to transparency. 

In his first lecture, Matthew Connelly explores how recent invocations of national security stand in sharp contrast with America’s founders and their principles. 

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Open Government in the Age of Total War

How did the US national security state emerge and what shaped the government’s approach to official secrecy?  

Matthew Connelly explains how the period 1914-1945, bookended by two horrendous world wars, transformed the US into a nation equipped with a vast intelligence-gathering apparatus that could dramatically curtail civil liberties.

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The Cold War and the Culture of Secrecy

Official secrecy in the U.S. during the Cold War altered the culture of government and served many hidden agendas.

Matthew Connelly explains how classified information became an institutional asset, security clearances became a way to police behaviour, and senior officials who leaked classified information could use tactic to gain higher office.

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Crowd-Sourcing, Surveillance, and the Era of the Synopticon

‘Big data’ poses a massive challenge to the democratic accountability. Over the last four years the U.S. has quadrupled the amount of information that it classifies annually. But the information revolution has also provided citizens with the means to address these challenges. 

In his concluding Philippe Roman lecture, Matthew Connelly explains how data-mining can help preserve the principle of open government.

Download / Listen


Professor Connelly taught the seminar Hacking the Archive for LSE students.

The course focused on the ‘digital turn’ in history, where historians now have access to unprecedentedly large and rich bodies of information generated from the digitization of older materials and the explosion of 'born digital' electronic records. Can machines learn to be historians and answer previously impracticable questions?

Students on the course aimed to create a laboratory organised around a common group of databases in international history which can be used for multiple research projects. 

Read more about Professor Connelly’s work in this in area in this Buzzfeed article.

About Matthew Connelly

Currently a professor in the Department of History at Columbia University, Matthew Connelly is also founder and director or the LSE-Columbia University Double Degree in International and World History. His research focuses on planning and predictions, and using data science to analyse patterns in official secrecy.

Timothy Snyder on Eastern Europe and the Holocaust

The Origins of the Nations: the Brotherlands Hypothesis

Why do we have nations at all? And why do we have the nations that we have?  

Timothy Snyder tells the story of brothers from important families who chose different nationalities and led rival national movements to provide a new perspective on the question of ‘motherlands’ and ‘fatherlands’. 

Twitter: #LSENations / Download / Listen

The Origins of the Revolution: Marx and Eastern Europe

Marx and Engels believed in liberating Eastern Europe from imperial rule in the nineteenth century but the twentieth century saw communist oppression in region.

Timothy Snyder discusses if Marxism was in any sense native to Eastern Europe and argues Poland’s Solidarity was the only working class revolution in the world. 

Twitter: #LSEMarx / Download / Listen

The Origins of Mass Killing: the Bloodlands Hypothesis

At no other time in European history were so many human beings deliberately killed as a matter of policy as in Eastern Europe between 1933 and 1945. Most deliberate Soviet killing, and almost all deliberate Nazi killing, took place in this zone between Berlin and Moscow.

Timothy Snyder argues that if we can understand the totality of this catastrophe we will both better understand the two regimes and  be better prepared to understand its component parts, the most significant of which was the Holocaust of European Jews.  

Twitter: #LSEBloodlands / DownloadListen

The Origins of the Final Solution: Eastern Europe and the Holocaust

The Nazi Final Solution was implemented in occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union, in the lands that after the end of the war quickly fell behind the Iron Curtain. The opening of borders and archives has permitted a much fuller acquaintance with the victims of the Holocaust, the vast majority of whom were east European Jews.

Must the national history of eastern Europe collapse into nothing more than a prehistory of catastrophe or can a grounding in the national histories help us better discern the human causes of the Holocaust?

Watch / Download Audio / Listen

Black Earth: the Holocaust as History and Warning

In 2015, Timothy Snyder returned to IDEAS to speak at this event chaired by fellow Philippe Roman Chair Anne Applebaum. 

In this riveting lecture, Professor Snyder explained the role that the destruction of states played in the Holocaust and argued that we must try to understand the causes of violence to learn the lessons of history.

Twitter / Download / Listen


As Philippe Roman Chair, Professor Snyder taught a seminar entitled The Holocaust as Global History for LSE postgraduate students.

About Timothy Snyder

Professor Snyder is currently the Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University, specialising in the political history of central and Eastern Europe as well as the Holocaust. A prolific author, he has written five award-winning books including Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, which has been awarded ten awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities and the Leipzig Award for European Understanding. Find out more on Timothy Synder's website.

Anne Applebaum on historical memories of communism and 'Putinism'

True Believers: Collaboration and Opposition under Totalitarian Regimes

The horrifying genius of Soviet communism, imposed by force on Soviet-occupied Europe, was the system’s ability to get the silent majority in so many countries to play along without much protest. 

Anne Applebaum explains how carefully targeted violence, propaganda and the state’s monopoly on economic and civic institutions persuaded populations to ‘go along’, illustrated with individual stories.

Watch on YouTube / DownloadListen

The Gulag: What We Know Now and Why it Matters

Since the archives of the Gulag system became available to researchers in the 1990s, historians’ previously sketchy understanding of the Soviet concentration camp system has come more sharply into focus. 

We now understand far better what the Gulag was, how it evolved, what purposes it served, how many people lived and died within it. Anne Applebaum asks what we really remember of the camp system and why it’s not an issue for debate in modern Russia. 

Watch / Download / Listen

Putinism - The Ideology

Anne Applebaum argues that Vladimir Putin cannot be dismissed as a thuggish or thoughtless authoritarian leader. 

She explains the sophisticated institutional and ideological underpinnings of ‘Putinism’ as an ideology including foreign policy, history, and education.

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Does Eastern Europe Still Exist?

During the Cold War, the nations of the region we called 'Eastern Europe' were closely linked. Since 1989 they have made different choices and taken different paths.

Anne Applebaum argues that the label ‘Eastern Europe’ is no longer relevant to a diverse region that can offer crucial lessons in transition to the rest of the world. 

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Anne Applebaum taught a seminar titled The History of the Soviet Union and the Post-Soviet Transition. 

Other events 

Whilst Philippe Roman Chair Anne Applebaum also took part in the America and the World After the Election debate, reacting to the re-election of President Barack Obama that month, with Craig Calhoun, Michael Cox and Gideon Rachman.


Black Earth: the Holocaust as History and Warning

In 2015, Anne Applebaum chaired this lecture by fellow Philippe Roman Chair Timothy Snyder, where they discussed the role that the destruction of states played in the Holocaust and how their study of Easter European history shaped their reactions to the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. 

Twitter / Listen

About Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate and Director of the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute. Her book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, won the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature, the Duke of Westminster Medal, and an Arthur Ross Silver Medal from the Council on Foreign Relations. Find out more on Anne Applebaum's website.

Ramachandra Guha on India and Gandhi's legacy

Arguments with Gandhi

At once a freedom fighter, social reformer, religious pluralist, and environmental thinker, Mahatma Gandhi's ideas were original and controversial.

Ramachandra Guha explores how Ghandi's life and work continue to illuminate the major social and political debates of our time.

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Jawaharlal Nehru and China: A Study in Failure?

The historical reputation of Jawaharlal Nehru has been stained by India's defeat during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. This was a national humiliation, for which Nehru was considered personally responsible.

By putting 1962 in the broader perspective of China-India relations, Ramachandra Guha attempts to reassess Nehru's legacy.

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Ten Reasons Why India Will Not and Should Not Become a Superpower

It is said that just as the 20th century belonged to the United Kingdom and the United States, the 21st century will belong to China and India. 

Rather than seek to expand India's influence abroad, Ramachandra Guha argues that the Indian political class and intellectual elite would do well to focus on the fissures and challenges within.

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Sport and the Nation: Interpreting Indian History Through the Lens of Cricket

How did a game played by homesick colonial administrators in front of curious native onlookers become not only a fanatic obsession with the latter, but a part of their history and cultural identity?

Ramachandra Guha explains how the Indianisation of cricket is not only a great sporting history, but an expression of societal relations in colonial and post-colonial India.

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Other Events

While at IDEAS Guha chaired the debate Indian Democracy's Ferocious Faultlines,with panellists Sunil Khilnani, Patrick French, Mukulika Banerjee, and Maitreesh Ghatak.  

The event explored the threats to Indian democracy; the continuing insurgencies in Kashmir and the North East, Maoist rebellions, growing inequalities, and corruption. 



Ramachandra Guha taught the seminar The Past and Future of Indian Democracy for LSE students while Philippe Roman Chair. 

About Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha is a historian and biographer. He has taught at the universities of Yale and Stanford, held the Arné Naess Chair at the University of Oslo, and been the Indo-American Community Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Find out more on Ramachandra Guha's website

Niall Ferguson on what brought the Cold War to an end

The Political Economy of the Cold War

At its heart the Cold War was a competition between two economic systems. In his first lecture, Niall Ferguson compares and contrasts the United States and the Soviet Union and asks how far the outcome of the Cold War was economically determined from the outset.

In particular, what role did commercial and financial globalisation play in enhancing U.S. power in the world and how serious a threat did inflation pose to the United States in the 1970s?  

View Slides / Watch / Download / Listen

The Third World’s War

The Cold War was waged partly through a series of proxy wars in Third World countries from Guatemala to Korea to Vietnam. Although a great deal of attention has been devoted to a select number of U.S. Interventions in the Third World, Niall Ferguson argues that we need to see the ‘Third World's War’ in perspective.

He explains how successful the Soviet Union was in pursuing a strategy of fomenting revolution and how consistently successive U.S. administrations behaved in response.

Watch / Download / Listen

The Grand Strategy of Detene

'Nixon goes to China' shattered the façade of Communist unity and dug the United States out of the hole it found itself in at the end of the 1960s.

Critics have seen Nixon and Kissinger's policy as morally compromised, but Niall Ferguson asks if it was actually the key to America's victory in the Cold War? 

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Nuclear Arms & Human Rights

The decisive breakthroughs in the Cold War occurred in seemingly unrelated fields, nuclear arms control and human rights. 

Niall Ferguson asks what were the links between these two issues and which mattered more?

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Other events

Out of Europe? The United States in an Asian Age 

Niall Ferguson took part in this debate with IDEAS co-directors Michael Cox and Arne Westad. Niall Ferguson argues that the world is now being shaped more by the emerging economies of the East than by the once dominant West. Is this true and what is the impact?



Professor Ferguson taught the seminar Western Ascendancy: The Mainsprings of Global Power from 1600 to the Present for LSE students.

About Niall Ferguson

Professor Ferguson is an academic historian, journalist and television presenter. He is Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a contributing editor of the Financial Times and a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. Find out more on Niall Ferguson's website. 

Gilles Kepel on Islamism and the future of the Middle East

Beyond Terror and Martydom: the future of the Middle East

The Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror’ has dominated American understanding of the Middle East.

Gilles Kepel analyses the consequences this has for the region and America’s allies there. 

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Jihad: the trail of Political Islam

Political Islam has emerged as one of the great ideologies of the modern world. How did this occur? 

Gilles Kepel explores the origins of Islamism and its future, discussing if it makes a clash of civilization inevitable.  

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Muslims in Modern Europe

Today over 13 million people from Muslim backgrounds live and work in modern Europe.

Gilles Kepel looks at the complex character of the Muslim population in Europe and explains the many different ways in which they see the world around them.

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Barack Obama and the Muslim World

How successful has President Obama’s engagement with the Muslim world been? 

Gilles Kepel assess the impact of the of Obama’s cultural outreach. 

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About Gilles Kepel

Professor Gilles Kepel is Chair of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He is a board member at the Social Science Research Council in New York and the Institute of the Arab World in Paris. He was formerly a visiting Professor at New York University and Columbia University. Find out more on Gilles Kepel's website or his Sciences Po page.

Chen Jian on turning points in Chinese history and US-China relations

The China Challenge as Myth and Reality

Few countries have experienced changes as dramatic as China in the past 25 years, from ‘revolutionary state’ to ‘status quo power’.

Professor Chen discusses the origins, processes and implications of China's rise from the perspective of a historian of China's international relations, focusing on deconstructing some common myths.  

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The Great Transformation: how China changed in the ‘long 1970s’

China's adoption of a new path toward modernity, one that champions ‘reform and opening to the outside world’, had profound significance not only for China itself but also for the rest of the world. What were the origins of this ‘Great Transformation’? 

Professor Chen offers a historian's overview of China's 1970s transformation and the beginning of global systemic change that this transformation helped create.

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China After the Olympics

Whether we think sport and politics should or should not be mixed, it is clear that in the case of the Beijing Olympics the two have never been more closely intertwined. 

Chian Jian is joined by Guardian Columnist Martin Jacques and Director of the Asia Research Centre Athar Hussain to discuss how the impact of the Olympics on China and ask if it changed China’s world image or affected future Western relations. 

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Rising Asia in the World Crisis

The global financial crisis presents both opportunities and challenges to Asia. The initiatives and responses by Asian countries, China and India in particular, have the potential to define the world's path of development now and in the future. 

To discuss these issues Chen Jian is joined by Danny Quah (Director of the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre) and Athar Hussain (Director of the Asia Research Centre).

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About Chen Jian

Professor Chen is the Michael J Zak Chair of the History of US-China Relations at Cornell University, where he serves as Director of the China and Asian-Pacific Studies Program and is a distinguished research scholar, writer and teacher. Find out more on Professor Chen's Cornell University page.

Paul Kennedy on the United Nations and the nature of American power

Reforming the United Nations – Mission Impossible?

In the first Philippe Roman lecture, Professor Kennedy discussed the United Nations: its strengths, weaknesses and prospects for reform. 

In particular he focused on the role of the Security Council and the special privileges bestowed upon its five permanent members, discussing the complex historical reasons for their veto and the reasons why Charter amendment is probably impossible. 

Slides / Download / Listen

Measuring American Power in Today's Fractured World

In the official IDEAS launch event, Professor Kennedy explored relative American power.

The United States remains the world’s largest power but in an increasingly challenging and fractured world, Professor Kennedy argues its influence cannot be measured by military ‘hard power’ alone but also by examining comparative economic performance and  ‘soft power’ cultural factors. 

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The Nuts and Bolts of Empire 

All great and long-lasting empires have required a sophisticated logistical system and a secure communications system to sustain themselves in a world of endless challenges. Without such ‘nuts and bolts’, imperial ambitions soon collapse.

Professor Kennedy examines the hard, infrastructural underpinnings of the Roman, Spanish and British Empires, concluding with some reflections of how today's sole superpower, the USA, compares in this regard.  

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About Paul Kennedy

Professor Kennedy is the J Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director of International Secruity Studies at Yale University, where he teaches on political, economic, and strategic issues. He is one of the most well-known international historians working in the field today, and has reached a global audience through his books The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987) and Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (1993). Find out more on the Yale University website and in Kennedy's Guardian interview