From the National History Center column of the May 2006 Perspectives
Congressional Seminar Features Foner and Franklin Seminar on Decolonization
AHA Staff, May 2006
Over the past few months, the National History Center has been gathering additional momentum, launching new programs while continuing older ones, thanks to two new developments. The first is the appointment of Miriam E. Hauss as administrative officer to manage the growing day-to-day work of the center. The second is the recruitment of Robert Berendt, an experienced consultant, to help draw up a strategic plan for the center, an essential step that has now been facilitated by grants from David Rockefeller, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Gilder-Lehrman Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Among the ongoing programs is the congressional seminar series, designed to provide a historical perspective on current issues especially for the benefit of members of Congress and their staffs. The latest of these was held on March 13, 2006, and was devoted to a discussion on the theme, “Revisiting Race and Reconstruction.” The seminar, held at the Senate Russell Building in Washington D.C., was attended by an overflow audience and featured John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus at Duke University, and Eric Foner, the Dewitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. Foner, author of several books on Reconstruction, pointed out that the federal government as we know it today was shaped by the Civil War and Reconstruction, which both imposed new burdens on the government. Franklin took a longer view, arguing the significance of the contradictions in the earliest institutions of the federal government. Both Foner and Franklin responded to many questions from the audience following their presentations, referring to the lasting impact of the events and developments of the 1860s on race relations in America today. Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderated the seminar.
Among the new programs undertaken by the Center is the summer seminar on decolonization, set to start on July 10, 2006 in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress. Supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the seminar series will be continued, with the second seminar set for the summer of 2007 (see the call for applications on page 35). The seminars are intended to provide an opportunity to new scholars in the field to exchange ideas and information with fellow participants as well as the seminar leaders, Dane Kennedy (George Washington Univ.) Wm. Roger Louis (Univ. of Texas at Austin). The 15 participants selected—after a rigorous competition—for participation in the first seminar are (institutional affiliations are followed by the project title):
Anne Louise Antonoff (Yale Univ.) U.S. and Decolonization in 1952: A Liberalizing Moment?; Lauren Apter (Univ. of Texas at Austin), The Role of American Zionism in the Decolonization of Palestine; Tracey Banivanua Mar (Univ. of Melbourne), Indigenous Globalization: Historical Networks of Decolonization in Western Oceania; Daniel Branch (Yale Univ.), Not Yet Uhuru? The Local Politics of Decolonization in Central Kenya, 1956–1973; Elizabeth Buettner (Univ. of York), The Impact of Empire: Cultural Decolonization in Europe; Lucy Chester (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder), Britain's Decolonization of South Asia, 1947, and the Palestine Mandate, 1948; Kristen Stromberg Childers (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Choosing the Mother Country: Decolonization and Migration to France and Britain, 1945–Present; Adrian Howkins (Univ. of Texas at Austin), The Imperialism of Decolonization in Antarctica; Yasmin Khan (Royal Holloway, Univ. of London) Policemen and Partition: Regime Change in North India, 1941–1964; Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi (Univ. of San Marino, Italy), Congo Basin and Former Colonial Powers Relationship; Jason Parker (West Virginia Univ.), Decolonization and Third World Federations; Louisa Rice (Rutgers Univ.), France, West Africa, and the Re-imagination of Empire in the Era of Decolonization; George R. Trumbull IV (Tulane Univ.), An Ocean of Sand: A Cultural History of Water in the Colonial Sahara; Lorenzo Veracini (Univ. of Queensland, Australia), Settler Colonialism and Decolonization; Chantelle F. Verna (Florida International Univ.), Haiti's "Second Independence" and the Promise of the Postoccupation Period, 1934–1956.
For details about the seminar series, visit the National History Center's web site, www.nationalhistorycenter.org.