Christian Pettersen joined Kenyon in 2023 after completing a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of Georgia. Pettersen is a political and legal geographer. His research focuses on the historical development of anti-impunity initiatives in Guatemala and Cambodia. In his current work he examines how the Guatemalan state welcomed and then expelled the United Nations-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). He looks to how the CICIG’s expulsion can provide clues to how exclusionary states maintain their power and to how human rights both expand and constrain transformative social practice in the 21st century.

At Kenyon, Pettersen teaches courses in International Studies and History. His classes are based on his research expertise and lived experience in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and by his commitments as an historically-driven interdisciplinary scholar.


2023 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Georgia

2015 — Master of Arts from University of Georgia

2013 — Bachelor of Arts from University of Arizona

Courses Recently Taught

This team-taught seminar explores the 20th century in global comparative perspective, through the reading, contextualization and analysis of mainly primary source texts and documents. In any given year, the seminar focuses on one of two themes: the post-war world (ca.1945-1989) or the inter-war world (1919-1939). It takes up themes of broad political, economic and social transformations; scientific and technological innovations; and the cultural shifts that occurred throughout these decades preceding and following the Second World War. The seminar sections meet jointly once a week for lectures or films and separately once a week for discussion of primary-source readings. In addition to the rich historical material that the course addresses, students begin to learn the basic skills of the historian: asking questions, finding and analyzing relevant documents or primary sources, and identifying different kinds of interpretations of those sources. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. Open only to first-year students.

This course is designed for sophomores who plan to major in international studies. It explores the evolution of modern international society by examining the roles of industrialization, capitalism, nationalism, individualism and other elements of modernity in propelling and directing the flow of wealth, people and ideas between different regions of the world. In addition to studying general political and economic changes, the course considers various local and personal perspectives, giving life to otherwise abstract forces and complicating attempts to construct a single overarching narrative of "modernization," "Westernization" or "development." Among the issues to be examined are the causes and effects of international economic disparities, migration, cultural tensions and stresses on the environment. In surveying major viewpoints and illustrative cases within these themes, the course is meant to serve as an introduction to the international studies major, utilizing a variety of academic disciplines and providing a foundation for further study of relations between different nations and peoples of the world. As part of the course, students complete a research paper related to the geographic area where they plan to go for their off-campus experience. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Sophomore standing. Offered every year.