The Wilson Quarterly

Since The Wilson Quarterly went digital-only in 2013, we’ve still had subscribers.

It’s free to subscribe. And new issues of the WQ are sent directly to your email box. But what else is in it for you?

Our new WQ Dispatch — which will be published in each of the eight months each year that we don’t publish a new issue of the WQ — is our answer.

You’ll get a peek at what we’re reading and watching, see new work from WQ contributors, and gain a window into the work at the Wilson Center. In future, we’ll also be sharing thoughtful responses to stories we publish in the magazine as they arrive.

We hope this monthly missive will be a welcome addition to your subscription to the WQ.

New York Times and WQ contributor David Sanger (“Battleground 5G,” Spring 2020) saw his best-selling book on cybersecurity – The Perfect Weapon (Penguin Random House) – adapted into an HBO documentary released in October. The new film was featured in a Wilson Center event that same month, during which Sanger discussed the film with Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO of the Wilson Center.

“What we need to think about is what are the dangers of having a splintered Internet,” Sanger noted. “A sort of techno-democratic Internet and a techno-authoritarian Internet.”

Woodrow Wilson, 1923.

(Library of Congress)

The Fall 2020 issue of the WQ examined Woodrow Wilson’s racial legacy in an interview with the Center’s 2020 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Jonathan Holloway. In the conversation, Holloway focused on two particular flashpoints in Wilson’s presidency: a fractious meeting with a delegation led by Black publisher William Monroe Trotter in November 1914, and the screening of D.W. Griffiths’ slanderous propaganda film, The Birth of a Nation at the White House in February 1915.

Two recent works offer readers additional context for these events. Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright) by Tufts University professor Kerri K. Greenidge examines the influential publisher’s private life and public career from his birth in Ohio through the founding of the Guardian newspaper and his leap to national prominence as a civil rights pioneer.

Even closer to the Wilson Center’s home in Washington D.C. is a new book by Blair A. Ruble: Portraying the Soul of a People: African Americans Confront Wilson’s Legacy From the Washington Stage. Wilson’s screening of The Birth of a Nation was the spark for a new wave of Black artistic expression, and Ruble traces this outpouring of new works by theatre artists and others in the nation’s capital. He also discussed key elements of this important new work in a Wilson Center event in October.

Protests in Hong Kong


The travails of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement – especially under a fresh legislative and security assault by mainland China – has pushed its human rights status to the forefront of global attention.

The WQ’s interactive feature on the technology of protest in Hong Kong (“Protest Tech: Hong Kong,” Winter 2020) was among our most popular features this year. One of the co-authors, Michael C. Davis, has written a new book – Making Hong Kong China: The Rollback of Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Columbia University Press). The book helps readers make sense of the trajectory of China’s moves to subsume Hong Kong and Hongkongers vigorous attempts at resistance.

Protests in Bucharest, December 2017.

(Stefan Voinea)

Our WQ contributor Susan Stokes’ research on protest (“Why Protest?” Winter 2020) helps us understand what motivates people to take to the streets – and how the governments who face mass movements calibrate their response. Late last summer, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago expanded her thoughts on “What Spurs a Protest?” to encompass a global pandemic in the university’s annual Harper Lecture.

Stokes notes that fear of the COVID-19 pandemic “raised the costs of participation [in protest],” she observed. “But anger at social injustice and police abuse raised the costs of abstention. Which costs will accelerate faster in the coming months will determine whether 2020 will become a year of quiescence or a year of mobilization.”

Srdja Popovic, another contributor to the Winter 2020 issue (“Protests and Principles”), offers readers new insights into the mechanisms of nonviolent protest in a new book co-authored with Sophia A. McClennen: Pranksters Vs. Autocrats Why Dilemma Actions Advance Nonviolent Activism (Cornell University Press).

Dilemma actions seek to “trap those in power in an irresolvable dilemma,” the authors write. And they also have a growing track record of working: “Our research clearly shows the amazing potential of dilemma actions as a strategic tool to tackle human rights abuses, autocracy, injustice, and inequality. Not only are dilemma actions more likely to grant their organizers visibility and a possibility for mobilization, but they also often inspire other local and international actors to replicate those tactics.”

(Cover image: Necropolis for the Victims of Fascism - also known as Monument on Smrike - (1975) in Novi Travnik, FBiH, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Designed by Bogdan Bogdanović. Image by Donald Niebyl.)

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WQ Dispatch - December 2020