Please note: this Fifth Estate conversation is taking place at lunchtime, instead of in the evening, due to guest speaker availability.
How does a person navigate the change from activist outsider to influential insider? How do you balance idealism and pragmatism under pressure?
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Samantha Power has had to navigate these questions first-hand. From a troubled childhood in Dublin to a career as a war correspondent then academic, she landed at the heart of American politics in 2005 – when her critiques of US foreign policy drew the attention of Barack Obama. She joined his team, eventually becoming a senior human rights adviser.
After an early misstep (she branded Hillary Clinton ‘a monster’, and lost her job over the incident), Power served in the White House’s National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. In 2013, she was appointed to the coveted position of US Ambassador to the United Nations.
As she reveals in her newest book, The Education of an Idealist, the intensity of her work was matched by personal struggle – trying to start a family, then raising young children; dealing with anxiety attacks and her own painful childhood. Power has been celebrated for her skill and influence, and has proudly worn the title of activist. She has also drawn sharp criticism from some quarters, particularly in her advocacy for ‘humanitarian intervention’, and her arguments for US action or inaction in Libya, Syria and Yemen.
In conversation with Sally Warhaft, Samantha Power will discuss the complexity of decision-making, the tensions between activism and power, and the reconciliation of past and future.
Readings will be our bookseller for this event.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians’ lives in the fog of ... Read more
Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and William D. Zabel ’61 Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United ... Read more
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