Washington History Seminar

May 19th, 2015

Washington History Seminar Fall 2015 Schedule

The Washington History Seminar is pleased to announce its Fall 2015 schedule. A joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the History and Public Policy Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Washington History Seminar meets each week, January to May and September to December, on Monday afternoons […]

May 12th, 2015

May 18: Kate Brown on “Bursting the Plutonium Bubble: How Utopian Communities Made Dystopian Nuclear Landscapes”

Historian Kate Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia – the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias – communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Brown shows […]

May 6th, 2015

May 11: James Loeffler on “The Swastika Epidemic: Global Antisemitism and Human Rights Activism in the Cold War 1960s”

It is common knowledge today that antisemitism is on the rise today in Europe and around the world, but there is no consensus about how the global community should respond. In this talk, drawn from his forthcoming book, scholar James Loeffler offers a historical perspective on this debate by looking back on the first major […]

April 28th, 2015

May 4: Doug Rossinow on “The Reagan Era: From a “New Cold War” to the “Washington Consensus”

During the decade of the 1980s, the foreign relations of the United States traced a surprising path from what many called a “new Cold War” with the Soviet Union to the ascendancy, by 1990, of the so-called “Washington Consensus” that governed global economics in the name of free trade and investment. Despite what some say, […]

April 21st, 2015

April 27: Sulmaan Khan on “Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy: China’s Cold War and the People of the Tibetan Borderlands”

In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa, leaving the People’s Republic of China with a crisis on its Tibetan frontier. Drawing upon never before seen Chinese sources, Sulmaan Khan tells, for the first time, the story of how non-state actors moving across the Tibetan borderlands exposed state weakness and caused the PRC to move from […]

March 31st, 2015

April 13: Christopher Darnton on “Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America”

One of the central paradoxes of the global Cold War was the prevalence of rivalries among countries within the same bloc. Given a common adversary, why did so many of these conflicts persist, why did peacemaking efforts repeatedly fail, and what conditions ultimately contributed to the rare instances of successful rapprochement? Rivalry and Alliance Politics […]

March 24th, 2015

March 30: Bruce Kuklick on “Murdering Patrice Lumumba”

When Belgium relinquished control of the Belgian Congo in June 1960, a charismatic Patrice Lumumba became prime minister of the new Republic. Stability immediately broke down. The army mutinied, while Katanga Province seceded. Six months later Lumumba was murdered in Katanga; his undisputed rule as Congo’s first democratically elected leader had lasted ten weeks. Over […]

March 17th, 2015

March 23: Martha Hodes on “Mourning Lincoln”

Public responses to Lincoln’s assassination have been well chronicled, but Martha Hodes is the first to delve into personal and private responses—of African Americans and whites, Yankees and Confederates, soldiers and civilians—investigating the story of the nation’s first presidential assassination on a human scale. Black freedom, the fate of former Confederates, and the future of […]

March 11th, 2015

March 16: William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh on “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana”

Authors William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh will talk about their new book chronicling the untold history of attempts at reconciliation between the United States and Cuba. From John F. Kennedy’s offering of an olive branch to Fidel Castro after the missile crisis, to Henry Kissinger’s top secret quest for normalization, to Barack Obama’s promise […]

March 3rd, 2015

March 9: Carol Anderson on “The Danger of the Single Story: African Americans’ Anticolonialism in the Early Cold War”

We know the story. Historians have told it for more than forty years. After the onset of the Cold War, fierce anticolonialism emanated solely out of the black left, which paid dearly for opposing U.S. imperial policy. Paul and Eslanda Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, W. Alphaeus Hunton, and even, in his own twisted way, Max […]