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  • Author: KC Harris, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: Rock ‘n’ roll owes its origins to a one-room converted auto repair shop in Memphis, Tennessee and a man named Sam Phillips. As a talent scout, producer, and record-label operator, Sam Phillips defined the genre of rock ‘n’ roll and, consequently, the evolution of popular music in the 20th century through his label Sun Records.1 From his tiny recording studio in Memphis, Phillips discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, and many more famous performers. Situated at a geographic and cultural crossroads in Memphis, between Nashville, the home of country music, and Chicago, the capital of the Blues, Sun Records codified the new sound of rock ‘n’ roll, which bridged racial, economic, and generational divides in the 1950s and 60s.
  • Topic: History, Capitalism, Music
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jonathan Tiemann, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: Two momentous events early in 1848 completely and abruptly transformed California. On 24 January, James Marshall found gold in a millrace he was building for John Sutter at Coloma, on the South Fork of the American River. Nine days later, on 2 February, the United States and Mexico concluded the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending nearly two years of hostilities. Under the Treaty, Mexico ceded much of the present south-western United States to the US for monetary consideration. An American occupation government had ruled most of California since mid-1846, but neither the American military governor nor the earlier Mexican governors had held firm political control over the remote, sparsely populated territory. 1 Now, the problem was fully in the hands of the Americans.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Monetary Policy, Capitalism, Currency, Banking
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew Preston, Darren Dochuk, Christopher Cannon Jones, Kelly J. Shannon, Vanessa Walker, Lauren F. Turek
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Historians of the United States and the world are getting religion, and our understanding of American foreign relations is becoming more rounded and more comprehensive as a result. Religion provides much of the ideological fuel that drives America forward in the world, which is the usual approach historians have taken in examining the religious influence on diplomacy; it has also sometimes provided the actual nuts-and-bolts of diplomacy, intelligence, and military strategy.1 But historians have not always been able to blend these two approaches. Lauren Turek’s To Bring the Good News to All Nations is thus a landmark because it is both a study of cultural ideology and foreign policy. In tying the two together in clear and compelling ways, based on extensive digging in various archives, Turek sheds a huge amount of new light on America’s mission in the last two decades of the Cold War and beyond. Turek uses the concept of “evangelical internationalism” to explore the worldview of American Protestants who were both theologically and politically conservative, and how they came to wield enough power that they were able to help shape U.S. foreign policy from the 1970s into the twenty-first century. As the formerly dominant liberal Protestants faded in numbers and authority, and as the nation was gripped by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, evangelicals became the vanguard of a new era in American Christianity. Evangelicals replaced liberal Protestants abroad, too, as the mainline churches mostly abandoned the mission field. The effects on U.S. foreign relations were lasting and profound.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, International Affairs, History, Culture, Book Review, Christianity, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Dustin Walcher, Lindsay M. Chervinsky, James F. Siekmeier, Kathryn C. Statler, Brian Etheridge, Seth Jacobs
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Seth Jacobs can write. Rogue Diplomats is a book that specialists and educated general readers will enjoy, and the reviewers agree with my assessment. It is, in Kathryn Statler’s words, “an absolute page-turner.” Lindsay Chervinsky writes that it “… is a serious diplomatic history that contributes to our understanding of the field and U.S. history, but is also fun – a quality that isn’t always associated with historical scholarship, but should be welcome.” Brian Etheredge finds that Jacobs’ “vignettes are beautifully told,” and that he “has an eye for the telling quote and writes with a verve and sense of irony that captivates.” He is “a master storyteller at the top of his game.” In sum, Jacobs elucidates important episodes of U.S. diplomacy and entertains in the process. That alone is a substantial accomplishment.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History, Diplomatic History, Dissent
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas W. Zeiler, Grant Madsen, Lauren F. Turek, Christopher Dietrich
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: When David Anderson, acting as a conduit for editors at the Journal of American History, approached me at a SHAFR meeting in 2007 to write a state-of- the-field essay, I accepted, in part because we were sitting in a bar where I was happily consuming. The offer came with a responsibility to the field. I was serving as an editor of our journal, Diplomatic History, as well as the editor of the digitized version of our bibliography, American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature. Because these positions allowed me to survey our vibrant field, accepting the offer seemed natural. And I was honored to be asked to represent us. Did I mention we were drinking? I’m sure that Chris Dietrich accepted the invitation to oversee this next-gen pioneering Companion volume from Peter Coveney, a long-time editorial guru and booster of our field at Wiley-Blackwell, for similar reasons. This, even though there were times when, surrounded by books and articles and reviews that piled up to my shoulders in my office (yes, I read in paper, mostly), I whined, cursed, and, on occasion, wept about the amount of sources. What kept me going was not only how much I learned about the field, including an appreciation for great scholarship written through traditional and new approaches, but both the constancy and transformations over the years, much of it due to pressure from beyond SHAFR that prompted internal reflections. Vigorous debate, searing critiques, sensitive adaptation, and bold adoption of theory and methods had wrought a revolution in the field of U.S. diplomatic history, a moniker itself deemed outmoded.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Trevon Logan, Peter Temin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper records the path by which African Americans were transformed from enslaved persons in the American economy to partial participants in the progress of the economy. The path was not monotonic, and we organize our tale by periods in which inclusiveness rose and fell. The history we recount demonstrates the staying power of the myth of black inferiority held by a changing white majority as the economy expanded dramatically. Slavery was outlawed after the Civil War, and blacks began to participate in American politics en masse for the first time during Reconstruction. This process met with white resistance, and black inclusion in the growing economy fell as the Gilded Age followed and white political will for black political participation faded. The Second World War also was followed by prosperity in which blacks were included more fully into the white economy, but still not completely. The Civil Rights Movement proved no more durable than Reconstruction, and blacks lost ground as the 20th century ended in the growth of a New Gilded Age. Resources that could be used to improve the welfare of whites and blacks continue to be spent on the continued repressions of blacks.
  • Topic: Economics, Race, History, Capitalism, Slavery
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Jonathan Tiemann, Oenone Kubie, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: The discovery of gold in January 1848, at Nueva Helvetia, John Sutter’s property in the Sacramento Valley, changed the course of Californian history. By the end of March, San Francisco had emptied as its population swarmed to the gold fields that had opened up around Sutter’s lumbermills and by August, the East Coast newspapers were reporting the discovery of Californian gold. In December of that year, President James K Polk confirmed the find in front of Congress and in 1849, one of America’s largest migrations ever took place as hundreds of thousands of gold prospectors, the ‘Forty-niners’, descended on ‘Gold Country’.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, History, Natural Resources, Capitalism, Economic Development , Cattle, Farming
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Serhii Plokhy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: It is only in the past decade that Ukrainian history has begun to be researched in the context of international or global history. The American historian Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, is a prominent exponent of this approach. His books The Gates of Europe: A History of UkraineandChernobyl: History of a Tragedy analyze the major problems of the Ukrainian past from a transnational perspective. His latest book, Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of World War II, deals with the establishment of United States Air Force bases in the Poltava region of Soviet Ukraine in 1944—the only place where Soviet and American troops lived and fought side by side during the war, putting the anti-Nazi alliance to the test. Plokhy's research interests include the early modern history of Ukraine, twentieth-century international history, and intellectual history. I spoke with Serhii Plokhy about the integration of Ukrainian history into global history, the colonial status of Ukraine, and environmental history.
  • Topic: History, Military Affairs, World War II, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Ukraine, Soviet Union