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Alan Eastham Jr. was a career Foreign Service officer. Over the course of thirty-five years, he held posts in countries all over the globe, establishing a special expertise and serving his longest stints in countries on the African continent. Upon his retirement from the Foreign Service, he returned to Arkansas and became a member of the faculty at his alma mater, Hendrix College.
Alan Eastham Jr. was born on October 16, 1951, in Dumas (Desha County). He received his early education in the local schools and spent much of his time at the local public library. In 1973, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). He later earned a law degree from Georgetown University, after which he was admitted to the Washington DC bar. He and his wife, Carolyn, have two sons.
Eastham joined the U.S. Department of State in January 1975 as a junior officer. He soon assumed the position of vice consul in the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, a post he held until 1978. Eastham returned to the United States, working in the State Department’s public affairs office in Washington until 1980. That was followed by two years in the department’s counterterrorism office. From 1982 to 1983, he served as Sri Lanka/Maldives desk officer and then as the India desk officer from 1983 to 1984. In 1984, he was assigned to serve as the principal officer of the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. He served in that role for three years at the height of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation. He returned to Washington, where he served as a special assistant for Near East and South Asia in the office of the assistant secretary for political affairs.
In 1989, he began an extended involvement with Africa when he was named political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. That was followed in 1992 by a two-year posting as political counsel in Kinshasa, Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo). Eastham then moved to Bordeaux, France, where he served as U.S. Consul General before becoming political counselor in New Delhi, India. In 1997, he became deputy chief of mission in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in 1999 he returned to Washington to assume the role of principal deputy assistant secretary for South Asian affairs. He next served as acting assistant secretary for South Asian affairs, a post he held from January to May 2001, before he was appointed as special negotiator for conflict diamonds in the Economics and Business Bureau. He served in that role from September 2001 until August 2002. That was followed by his appointment to the positon of director of central African affairs. From August 2002 to May 2005, he oversaw relations between the United States and ten countries situated in the center of the African continent. Eastham was next appointed ambassador to Malawi, a post he held from October 2005 until August 2008, when he assumed the position of ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In July 2010, after thirty-five years in the Foreign Service, and having achieved the rank of Minister-Counselor, Eastham retired and returned to the United States. He assumed a position as Senior Fellow in International Relations and International Programs at Hendrix College, working with the college’s International Programs Office to help facilitate the efforts of students who want to study or do research abroad. He also began teaching a number of different classes, including U.S. Foreign Policy, Comparative Foreign Policy–Africa, and a topics course on South Asia.
For additional information:
“Alan Eastham.” U.S. Department of State Archive. https://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/e/54409.htm (accessed March 22, 2017).
“Alan Eastham, Jr.” Odyssey Medal. Hendrix College. https://www.hendrix.edu/odysseymedal/default.aspx?id=2041 (accessed March 22, 2017).
“Ambassador Alan Eastham.” Politics and International Relations Department. Hendrix College. https://www.hendrix.edu/politics/politics.aspx?id=51046 (accessed March 22, 2017).
Kennedy, Charles Stewart. “Interview with Ambassador Alan Eastham,” July 28, 2010. Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project. http://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Eastham-Alan1.pdf (accessed March 22, 2017).
William H. Pruden III
Last Updated 3/22/2017
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