Through an emerging partnership with The National Archives (NARA), Dr. Bret Vukoder (Carnegie Mellon University), and Dr. Hadi Gharabaghi (New York University), Prof Williams and The Media Ecology Project have initiated networked research into the relatively unexplored collection of motion pictures produced or distributed by the U.S. Information Agency during the Cold War. Study of this massive corpus of films may help disentangle the cultural and political hegemonies of the Cold War period, illuminating distinct and autonomous voices among the agency’s constituent locations around the world and the audiences that they engaged. This research seeks to both situate the significance of the global USIA archive and articulate multiple frameworks and methods by which it may be analyzed.

Williams, Vukoder, and Gharabaghi have presented together about the USIA MEP pilot on various international conference panels: Visible Evidence XXIV Conference, Buenos Aires (August, 2017); Association of Moving Image Archivists, New Orleans (December, 2017); Conference on Cinema of the Arab World, American University in Cairo (March, 2018); American Studies Association Conference, Honolulu (November, 2019).

Thanks to the efforts of our colleague Han Sang Kim, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ajou University in South Korea, Prof Williams and MEP have been awarded a “South Korea-US Cooperation Program in Humanities” grant that is funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). In November, 2019, Prof Kim was a member of our panel about USIA/USIS studies at the American Studies Association conference in Honolulu.

The grant is designed to support the organization of an academic event by the two persons named in the grant, one based in South Korea and one in the US. Based on the work Prof Williams has undertaken with MEP in South Korea and in relation to the history of the USIA, he is the designated US scholar.  The event will feature The Media Ecology Project and work to establish long-term approaches to teaching and research in South Korea via MEP.  The grant will enable the invitation of 4 scholars from the US to participate, including Williams, Vukoder, and Gharabaghi, plus multiple scholars from South Korea and Southeast Asia.  The conference will be scheduled for late 2020 or early 2021.