Author Archives: Guest Blogger

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Teaching the End of Empire: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Decolonization

By Jessica Pearson-Patel

In the summer of 2013, I had the incredible fortune to participate in the National History Center’s 8th International Seminar on Decolonization in Washington, DC. I had just received my PhD in history and French studies at New York University and was about to start a postdoc at Tulane University. Although much of the seminar focused on helping participants advance their own research projects on the history of decolonization, I found that some of the most engaging conversations I had with both the seminar faculty and with my fellow participants centered on teaching.

Curry

The Aftertaste of Empire: Food and Decolonization

By Amanda Banacki Perry

“I’m not getting curry powder at all. Being a Brit, we eat a lot of curry, and I don’t taste it in this.” As I was watching Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, this comment by Lorraine Pascale, one of the judges on the show, jumped out at me. Her comment, which drew on a legacy of presumed British culinary expertise concerning curry, carried a clear message: Brits know their curry.[1] And yet, the process by which curry became one of the most popular dishes in modern Britain is a complicated one of imperial appropriation, invention, and transformation.

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African American History: Of Dreams and Struggles

By Adam Green 

“Do everything!” That was the exhortation from Nell Painter that closed the Future of the African American Past conference, jointly sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the American Historical Association, with support from HISTORYTM and the National Endowment for the Humanities. And, if the breadth and the depth of the preceding conversation was any indication, the current generation of scholars and curators seem up to Painter’s challenge.

Rachel Feinmark leads a public tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City.

Who’s Afraid of Being a Generalist? On Being a Historian outside the Academy

By Rachel Feinmark

After two years of endless academic job applications, Skype interviews, and harrowing job talks, I was exhausted from reinventing myself on a daily basis. For all the effort, I was starting to suspect that I might not even want any of the jobs I was working so hard to get. When I finally gave myself permission to apply for the public history positions I’d secretly been coveting, I felt a sense of relief. But as I revised my teaching statement for a museum studies role, I came to realize that I was less interested in refining my class on the history of display than I was in creating the display myself.

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Historians in the News: Linda Colley on Brexit

By Linda Colley

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

This is the question on which citizens of the United Kingdom will vote on June 23. Historians have actively participated in the debate during the lead up to the national plebiscite. A group of 42 calling themselves Historians for Britain have advocated leaving the European Union, while a much larger group of historians have signed a letter saying that leaving the EU will “condemn Britain to irrelevance.” Given the long interwoven fates of the countries that now make up the European Union, contributions by historians are vital to understanding the geopolitics of remaining or leaving.

space

Outer Space Exploration in Divided Germany

By Colleen Anderson

Outer space travel during the Cold War is most often associated with the Space Race, when the United States and the Soviet Union competed to achieve increasingly ambitious milestones in space travel. However, outer space exploration during these years stretched far beyond the borders of the US and USSR. Across the globe, people followed developments in space travel, from the launch of the first satellite Sputnik in 1957 to the Apollo moon landing in 1969. Scientists and engineers from places such as Europe, Japan, China, and India participated in space research and built the technology used on manned and unmanned space missions.

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The Privatization of Animal Life and the Future of Circus Elephants in America

By Susan Nance

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has just retired elephants from its traveling shows, two years ahead of a previously announced schedule. On the first of this month—May Day—six of the Ringling elephants went through the motions for one last show in Providence before being shipped back to the company’s housing facility in central Florida, the Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC). Liberated from a schedule of travel and tricks, they will live with several dozen other elephants owned by the circus’s parent company, Feld Entertainment.