National History Center

The National History Center’s New Teaching Decolonization Resource Collection

By Annabel LaBrecque

In a Native American history class, during our second in-class discussion of the semester, I mentioned the term “decolonization” while deliberating over that week’s readings about ancient Cahokian and Caddoan civilizations. My professor stopped me mid-sentence: “Is everyone familiar with this concept? Decolonization?” My classmates remained silent, and my professor turned back to me. “Please, elaborate.” 

How the Feds Reshaped Higher Education

The paradox of American higher education is that it is at once so successful and so controversial. Our best universities consistently stand at the top of international rankings, and more than a third of Americans now hold bachelor’s degrees, the highest rate on record. Yet colleges and universities have become lightning rods in the culture wars, and concerns about student debt have spurred increasing calls for colleges to control their costs. The House Committee on Education recently approved a sweeping overhaul of federal legislation related to higher education, including controversial provisions that critics charge will make student loans more costly.

Encouraging Nuance in Holocaust History

By Rebecca Erbelding

The story of the Holocaust is generally told with a great deal of certitude. Beyond white supremacist hate groups and the dark corners of the Internet, the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators against millions of Jews and the systematic targeting of Roma, Slavs, Soviet POWs, the disabled, homosexuals, and other groups are universally condemned. Nazi leaders are rarely lionized, Germans don’t anticipate that Nazi Germany will rise again, and those murdered in the Holocaust are remembered as innocent victims of racism and antisemitism who bore no responsibility for their fate.

Will Robots Rule the World?

On a recent cover of the New Yorker (October 23, 2017), robots purposefully stride to their jobs; the only human in sight is unemployed and begging for change. We are warned: this could be our future. The illustration perfectly captures the current anxiety about automation’s impact on the workplace. 

December 11, 2017

What Should We Do with Confederate Monuments?

The current controversy over Confederate monuments is about how we remember the past and interpret its meaning. These issues are the stock in trade of historians, and many have written op-eds and done interviews with reporters for national and local news outlets. Others have given talks to civic groups, testified to government agencies, and spoken at public forums. The American Historical Association has issued a widely endorsed statement on Confederate monuments. Last week, the National History Center brought the issue to Capitol Hill as a congressional briefing

October 30, 2017

Is Civilian Control of the Military Eroding?

Three of the leading figures in the Trump administration are military men. When President Trump refers to “my generals,” he has Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly foremost in mind. By holding powerful positions almost always staffed by civilians, they have provoked widespread concern that civilian control of the military is eroding. As part of its ongoing Congressional Briefing series, the National History Center brought several prominent historians to Capitol Hill to provide perspectives on this subject. 

September 28, 2017

Writing the Cold War Back In: How History Influences Chinese Foreign Policy

By Gregg A. Brazinsky

As Sino-American relations have emerged as a critical foreign policy issue in the Trump administration, public discourse has been awash with many all too familiar and ill-informed narratives about China and its global objectives. Often, these narratives are derived from overly simplistic views of how China’s past affects the present. Policymakers and journalists have been obsessed with the idea that the People’s Republic of China is trying to reconstruct the “tributary system” or “Sinocentric order” that governed its relations with its neighbors before the 19th century.

Mexican Migration History in the Era of Border Walls

By Julia G. Young

In March 2015, I submitted the final page proofs for my book on Mexican migration to the United States. In June of that same year, Donald Trump gave his now-infamous speech in which he called Mexican immigrants drug dealers, rapists, and criminals. We all know what has happened since then: a nativist presidential campaign, a rhetorical battle with Mexico over the border wall, an upset election, and a growing number of deportations.