Tag Archives: Kluge Center

John Darwin speaks on Decolonization as a History of Failure

On Wednesday, July 13 at 4:00 pm, distinguished British historian, John Darwin of Nuffield College at the University of Oxford, will lecture at the National History Center’s Sixth International Seminar on Decolonization. The lecture, entitled, “Decolonization– a History of Failure?”  is free and open to the public and is being held at the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, in the Jefferson Room, LJ-119.  There will be a light reception following the lecture and Q&A session.

Decolonization is widely thought of as one of the foundational processes of the modern world. An old imperial order was swept away: a new ‘world of nations’ emerged to replace it. The inviolable nature of national sovereignty, the right to self-determination and a portfolio of human rights acquired normative status as the basis of international law and practice. With all the wisdom of hindsight, statesmen, politicians and policymakers assured us in their memoirs that such was the vision that guided their actions through the ‘end of empire’. But how much of all this should we really believe? Were the statesmen really so wise and far-seeing or merely dab hands in self-interest and expediency? Is the modern world really a world of nations or (largely) the detritus of broken-down empires? Can the imprint of empire be erased from our culture(s): is it wise to try? Is a world of nations an attainable or even a desirable object? What alternative is there? There’s some room for debate.

John Darwin teaches Imperial and Global history at Oxford where he is a Fellow of Nuffield College and is the Beit University Lecturer in the History of the British Commonwealth. His recent publications include After Tamerlane: the Global History of Empire (Penguin, 2007) which won the Wolfson Prize in History in 2008 (Chinese and German translations have been published, Russian and Japanese are scheduled); and The Empire Project: the Rise and Fall of the British World System 1830-1970 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) which won the triennial Trevor Reese prize for Commonwealth and Imperial history.

The lecture is sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center, in conjunction with the National History Center’s Sixth International Seminar on Decolonization, a four-week seminar, held at the Library of Congress.  It brings together international scholars to examine various dimensions of decolonization, primarily 20th-century transitions from colonies to nations in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The seminar is supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is cosponsored also by the American Historical Association and the Kluge Center.

Sixth International Seminar on Decolonization Participants Announced

Participants for the Sixth International Seminar on Decolonization have been chosen.  The seminar, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and hosted by the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, brings together fifteen scholars at the beginning of their careers to Washington, DC for the summer.  The four-week program consists of class meetings, public lectures, informal gatherings, and research in the Washington area on decolonization in the twentieth century.  It begins in mid-July and runs through the first week of August and has become an important stage is many young historians’ career.

This year, the seminar is directed by Wm. Roger Louis (University of Texas at Austin), with leadership help from  John Darwin (Nuffield College, University of Oxford), Philippa Levine (University of Texas at Austin), Jason Parker (Texas A & M University), and Pillarisetti Sudhir (American Historical Association).

The 2011 participants and topics are:

Amanda Behm, Ph.D. candidate, British and imperial history, Yale University (degree expected 2012).
“The Third British Empire: history, theory and reality”

Eveline Buchheim (Ph.D., Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam, 2009), Researcher, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Netherlands.
“Passion and Purpose: Intimacies of Decolonization”

Paul Chamberlin (Ph.D., Diplomatic / International History, the Ohio State University, 2009), Assistant Professor of History, University of Kentucky.
“New Imperial Frontiers: The End of the Cold War and the Struggle for the Middle East, 1972-1982”

Jessica Chapman (Ph.D., History, University of California–Santa Barbara, 2006), Assistant Professor of History, Williams College, Massachusetts.
“From Disorder to Dictatorship: The Domestic and International History of Ngo Dinh Diem’s Construction of South Vietnam, 1953-1956”

Mads Clausen (Ph.D., English, U. of Copenhagen, 2010), Assistant Professor of British and American Politics and History, Aarhus University, Denmark.
“Out of the Ashcan of History: Decolonisation, Regional Engagement and Australian Post-Imperial Nationhood, 1956-1972”

Chris Dietrich, Ph.D. candidate, History, University of Texas–Austin (expected 2011).
“In the Wake of Withdrawal: British Decolonization and the International Energy Politics, 1967-1971”

Matthew Heaton (Ph.D., History, University of Texas–Austin, 2008), Assistant Professor of History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
“The Decolonization of Psychiatry in the British Empire, 1945-1979”

Jon Howlett, Ph.D. candidate, History, Bristol University, UK (expected 2011).
“‘Decolonising Shanghai:’ the American experience of the takeover of Shanghai and the purge of foreign influence in the city”

Su Lin Lewis (Ph.D., History, University of Cambridge, 2010), Past and Present Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, UK.
“Cultural International and Civil Society Networks in 1950s Southeast Asia”

Moritz Mihatsch, D.Phil. candidate, History, Nuffield College, University of Oxford (expected 2012).
“Colonialism, Neocolonialism and the United States: How the Sudanese Political Parties dealt with Aid and Technical Assistance”

Lata Parwani, Ph.D. candidate, Modern South Asia History, Tufts University (expected 2012).
“From Homeland to Motherland: Reflecting on the Sindhi Hindu Exodus, 1947-49”

Justin Pearce, D.Phil candidate, Politics, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford (expected 2011),
“Decolonisation in Angola and the roots of civil war”

Muhammad Ali Raza, D.Phil candidate, Modern South Asian History, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford (expected 2011).
“Yearning for Freedom and Revolution: Indian Radicals in Moscow during the Interwar Period”

Anne-Isabelle Richard (Ph.D., History, Gonville and Caius College, Univeristy of Cambridge, 2010), Max Weber Fellow, European University Institute.
“How Europe needed Africa: The influence of decolonization in Asia on Eurafrican projects in France, 1945-1954”

Matthew Stanard (Ph.D., Modern European History, Indiana University, 2006), Assistant Professor of History, Berry College, Georgia.
“Belgium’s pro-empire propaganda and official U.S. views of decolonization in the Belgian Congo, 1955-1961”

Philippa Levine’s Lecture on Women and Decolonization

Professor Philippa Levine, Professor of History at the University of Southern California, gave the lecture on Still Invisible?: 
Women, Gender, and Decolonization, as part of the National History Center’s fourth international seminar on decolonization and its public lecture series.  The John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress co-sponsored the event.

The lecture’s web cast can be viewed here.

Philippa Levine

Asking why studies of decolonization so rarely explore the contributions of women to decolonization struggles around the world, Professor Levine explored the perspective both of women involved in anti-colonial movements and women who were part of the colonial authority structure. She offered examples of women in both these roles, and hoped to encourage researchers to open up this fascinating field for further study.

Philippa Levine is Professor of History at the University of Southern California. She received her Doctorate in Philosophy from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, in 1983. She is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of British Studies and Women’s History Review, and President-elect of the North American Conference on British Studies. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is currently president of the University of Southern California faculty. Professor Levine’s works include Feminist Lives in Victorian England: Private Roles and Public Commitment; Victorian Feminism 1850-1900; Women’s Suffrage in the British Empire: Citizenship, Nation and Race (co-edited with Laura Mayhall and Ian Fletcher); Prostitution, Race and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire; and The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset.

This lecture was a second in series on subjects relating to decolonization, with Marilyn Young of New York University giving another lecture.