The Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies has appointed John H. Hanson as its new executive associate dean. Hanson, the director of the Hamilton Lugar School’s African Studies Program and Professor in the Department of History, succeeds Nick Cullather, who returns to the faculty after five years in the role.
As executive associate dean, Hanson oversees the Hamilton Lugar School’s four academic departments, plus some two dozen institutes, programs, and centers—an expansion of responsibilities that allows for greater integration of the school’s units into a cohesive whole.
Ambassador Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the Hamilton Lugar School, said, “John is widely respected by his peers for his scholarship and for his dedication to Indiana University. I can’t think of a better representative to represent our school and its mission.”
Professor Hanson was appointed to the IU Department of History faculty in 1991 and became director of the African Studies Program in 1999. Under his deft leadership, the program became one of the most prestigious of its kind in the United States, receiving U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center funding three times. In successive grants in 2003 and 2006, IU topped all other Africa centers in the level of federal support. For this success and his overall leadership of African Studies, Hanson was awarded IU’s John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies in 2011. He returned to the African Studies director position in 2015, having stepped down in 2007, and led African Studies as it returned to National Resource Center status and joined eleven Hamilton Lugar School area studies centers and programs in receiving Title VI funding in the 2018 round.
In addition to his efforts as an administrator, Hanson is a globally recognized scholar of Islam. He received Rockefeller and Fulbright-Hays fellowships in 2004–05, was one of 33 scholars selected as a National Humanities Center Fellow in 2009–10, and received a Gerda Henkel research scholarship in 2013-14.
Hanson’s research explores the religious imagination and social initiatives of West African Muslims, with projects focused on the Ahmadiyya Muslim community — a trans-national Islamic movement with origins in South Asia that gained a significant following in twentieth-century Ghana. His book on the Ahmadiyya in Ghana was published in 2017 by Indiana University Press.
Previously, he analyzed Muslim Sufi movements in nineteenth-century Senegal and Mali. He also reflects on historical methods and is co-editor of History in Africa: A Journal of Method and Africa Today. Hanson’s teaching concerns the full range of transformations associated with Africa during the last six hundred years. He is also interested in Middle Eastern history and holds an adjunct appointment in the Hamilton Lugar School Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.
The Hamilton Lugar School at Indiana University is a national leader in area and international studies and promotes understanding of global issues informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. Named for revered Hoosier statesmen and foreign policy voices, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and the late former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, the school is committed to creating leaders who celebrate differences and seek shared understanding.