Author Archives: Dane Kennedy

About Dane Kennedy

Dane Kennedy is the Director of the National History Center and the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at the George Washington University, where he has taught British, British imperial, and world history since 2000. Prior to that he was a member of the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The past president of the North American Conference of British Studies, he has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2003-4) and a National Humanities Center Fellowship (2010-11). He has written five books, most recently The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia (Harvard UP, 2013), and edited several others, including Reinterpreting Exploration: The West in the World (Oxford UP, 2013) for the National History Center’s Reinterpreting History series. He has also been one of the faculty members for the Center-sponsored International Decolonization Seminar since its founding in 2006.

US-China Diplomacy: Historical Perspectives on Challenges Confronting the People’s Republic

As Donald Trump and Xi Jinping prepared for what Trump has warned will be a “very difficult” meeting at his Florida resort, several leading historians of modern China gave a richly informative briefing on March 27 at the Capitol about the underlying issues that shape the Chinese government’s engagement with the United States and the world. Sponsored by the National History Center, the purpose of the briefing was to give historical context to current tensions between the United States and China, with a particular focus on Chinese aims and anxieties. 

The Paradoxes of Presidential Power: A Brief History of Executive Orders

We’ve all seen the photo ops over the past few weeks: President Donald J. Trump sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, signing executive orders with a flourish, then proudly displaying his handiwork to the cameras. This flurry of controversial orders has given new attention to an old presidential practice. Earlier this month, the National History Center sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill that examined the history of executive orders (EOs). Three leading authorities on the subject traced the evolution and exercise of this presidential power, placing the present moment in a context that offered both reassurance and concern.

Putting Zika in Historical Context

The Zika virus has recently announced its unwelcome arrival in the continental United States. In addition to over 2,500 individuals who have contracted the disease abroad, some 50 locally generated cases have been confirmed in Florida. Many more cases are anticipated. With the public health resources needed to combat the disease running dry, the administration has requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding. As usual, however, Congress is gridlocked, and it’s anybody’s guess whether a funding bill will pass before members leave Washington to campaign for reelection.

The Opioid Crisis in Historical Perspective

Prince is just the latest high-profile victim of an opioid addiction crisis that has devastated families and communities across the country in recent years. The problem has drawn widespread media coverage and spurred Congress into action, a rarity in the current political climate. Both the Senate and the House have recently passed legislation to address the crisis. Yet this is hardly the first time the United States has grappled with drug epidemics. What can we learn from past problems and the policies instituted to combat them?

Is the European Refugee Crisis Unprecedented? Symposium at the German Historical Institute Provides Historical Perspective

A few weeks ago the European Union (EU) signed a controversial agreement with Turkey to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe. The agreement is a testament to Europe’s failure to cope with the millions of refugees who have reached its shores from Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East over the past few years. This crisis seems unprecedented, but is it? The German Historical Institute took up this issue the other evening, hosting a fascinating panel discussion titled “Learning from the Past?

The Legacy of the Voting Rights Act

This year’s 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act has been a bittersweet milestone. The passage of the act is rightly regarded as a landmark legislative achievement.