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Lydia Walker

Lydia Walker

Lydia Walker

Assistant Professor and Myers Chair in Global Military History


257 Dulles Hall
230 Annie and John Glenn Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210 USA

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Areas of Expertise

  • International and Global History
  • Military Intervention and Insurgency
  • Decolonization and the Cold War
  • South Asia and Southern Africa

Lydia Walker is a historian of 20th century global decolonization. She has broad interests in the international history of South Asia, Southern Africa, military intervention, and insurgent resistance. She is Assistant Professor and Seth Andre Myers Chair in Global Military History at The Ohio State University, where she is also a Provost's Early Career Scholar, as well as a faculty Research Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, where she is Director of the Non-State Archive.

Nationalist insurgent movements that did not achieve statehood during decolonization sought out alternative sources of international recognition. In her book, States-in-Waiting: A Counternarrative of Global Decolonization (Cambridge University Press, 2024) the ramifications of the demand for an independent Nagaland at the junction of China, Burma, and India unfold far outside the region. The book juxtaposes the arrival of the Naga nationalist leader Angami Zapu Phizo to London in 1960 (the same year that 17 new states received independence) with the United Nations General Assembly’s concurrent declaration that national self-determination was an international norm. It focuses on the limits placed upon national liberation movements within a state-centric international system. Certain groups—such as Nagas—who did not see their claims represented by their country’s dominant nationalisms, turned to insurgency and transnational advocacy to access international politics. The civil society advocates they utilized often had substantial corporate and government connections as well as conflicting allegiances. Ultimately, States-in-Waiting shows how those ties circumscribed the shape of nationalist insurgent claims. 

Her articles include "Decolonization in the 1960s" in Past & Present (2019), "Indian and American Cold War Civil Society for Tibet" in the American Historical Review (2022) and "Counterrevolutionary Warfare on Trial" in the Journal of Military History (2024). She has also written on the Second World War's Battle of Kohima for The Washington Post's Made by History column. In addition, an essay on minority nationalist movements appeared in a 2022 forum on "Rethinking Nationalism" in The American Historical Review.

She holds a PhD and AM in History from Harvard University as well as a BA in History from Columbia University’s School of General Studies. Prior to arriving at Ohio State, she held research positions at Dartmouth College (US), the Institute of Historical Research (UK), the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (India), and Leiden University (The Netherlands).

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