Seeing America From a Distance -- Reflections from Turkey and Beyond


Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The CMES Director's Series presents

Suzy HansenSuzy Hansen
Writer; 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen, who grew up in an insular conservative town in New Jersey, was enjoying early success as a journalist for a high-profile New York newspaper. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency for her. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she moved to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naïve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling in Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and histories and politics. But the greatest, most unsettling surprise would be what she learned about her own country—and herself, an American abroad in the era of American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power around the world. She came to understand that anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology. It is, Hansen writes, "a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship."

Blending memoir, journalism, and history, and deeply attuned to the voices of those she met on her travels, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America’s place in the world. It is a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation—a profound reckoning with what it means to be American in a moment of grave national and global turmoil.

Suzy Hansen is a journalist who has lived in Istanbul for over ten years. She is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and has written for many other publications. Her first book, Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World, was published in 2017. It was a Finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, and the winner of the Overseas Press Club’s Cornelius Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book on International Affairs. In 2020, she will be a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, as well as an ASU Future Security Fellow at New America. She is currently a Practitioner in Residence at NYU's Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Contact: Liz Flanagan