Applying for the 10th International Seminar on Decolonization, 2015

Tenth International Seminar on Decolonization
Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 31, 2015
Washington, D.C.

Seminar Details and Structure

The National History Center of the American Historical Association is now accepting applications from early-career scholars to participate in the tenth and final international seminar on decolonization, which will be held for four weeks, from Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 31, 2015, in Washington, D.C.  Organized by the NHC and hosted by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the seminar is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 As in the previous nine seminars, fifteen participating historians will engage, along with six seminar leaders, in the common pursuit of knowledge about various dimensions of decolonization, primarily in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The seminar is expected to inspire participants to move the historiography of decolonization in new directions.

The participants are historians who have received the PhD within the past seven years and graduate students who are within one year of completing the dissertation.  Selected each year after a worldwide call for applications, they study various aspects of the process of decolonization, its prelude and its aftermath. The National History Center covers the cost of an economy round trip airfare between their workplace or place of normal residence and Washington, D.C. The Center also arranges and pays for their accommodations in Washington. Each participant receives a stipend for expenses such as meals and local transportation. Those selected for the seminar commit themselves to actively participating in that seminar for its duration.

Participants who are not U.S. citizens must make their own arrangements to obtain the necessary U.S. visas; the National History Center provides any documentation that may be required.

Aims of the seminar

The seminar has four integrated aims:

– To provide an opportunity for historians at the beginning of their careers to interact and exchange ideas with others working in the field of decolonization. Participants bring to the seminar multiple viewpoints and take away new ideas about the topic, knowledge about research methods, and new skills in communicating their ideas to fellow historians and to the public.

– To enable the participants to conduct archival research on projects within the overarching theme of decolonization at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and other repositories of historical research materials in the Washington, D.C. area.

– For participants to produce a draft article or chapter of a book (approximately 6,000 words) on a topic related to decolonization. The focus will be on developing and improving the participants’ writing skills so that the seminar also functions as a writing workshop. Seminar faculty and participants offer comments and critiques on the research, content, style, and argument of the evolving draft papers. The goal is to produce a piece of scholarly writing that meets the rigorous standards demanded by fellow historians yet can be understood by those with no specialized knowledge of the subject.

– To offer guidance on professional development to the participants, including tips on teaching, obtaining funding, and presenting and publishing their work.

Seminar Faculty Members

Wm. Roger Louis, noted historian of the British Empire, directs the seminar. Louis holds the Kerr Chair of English History and Culture and is co-director of the British Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of over 30 books on the British Empire, editor-in-chief of the five-volume Oxford History of the British Empire, and author of a collection of essays, Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization. He is also the founding director of the National History Center.

Dane Kennedy is the current director of the National History Center and the Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of half a dozen books on various aspects of the British imperial world in the 19th and 20th centuries, along with articles that address, among other concerns, historiographical and theoretical issues within the field. He was a Guggenheim fellow in 2003-4 and a National Humanities Center fellow in 2011–12. His latest books are The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia (Harvard UP, 2013) and, as editor, Reinterpreting Exploration: The West in the World (Oxford UP, 2013).  He is currently writing a history of decolonization for the “Very Short Introduction” series from Oxford UP.

Philippa Levine is the Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professor in the Humanities and co-director of the British Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She taught at the University of Southern California before joining the UT faculty in 2010. She has also taught in her native Britain and in Australia. Her publications include Gender, Labour, War and Empire in Modern Britain: Essays on Modern Britain (co-edited with Susan Grayzel);The British Empire, Sunrise to Sunset; and Gender and Empire in the Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series.

Jason Parker is associate professor of history and Rothrock Faculty Research Fellow at Texas A&M University. His research centers on the interplay of the Cold War and decolonization in U.S. relations with the “Third World.” He is the author of Brother’s Keeper: The United States, Race, and Empire in the British Caribbean, 1937–1962. His current projects are a history of U.S. Cold War public diplomacy in the Third World, and a comparative study of postwar federations in the decolonizing European empires.

Pillarisetti Sudhir is a former editor of the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History and Perspectives Online. Sudhir received his PhD in South Asian history from the University of London for his study of British attitudes to Indian nationalism in the inter-war period. He has taught in universities in India and in the United States. He is currently interested in exploring the cultural and economic dimensions of decolonization in the British Empire. He was a co-editor of Interrogating Modernity: Culture and Colonialism in India.

Marilyn B. Young  is a professor of history at NYU and the director of the Tamiment Library Center for the Study of the Cold War.  She is the author of numerous books and edited collections focusing on US foreign policy.  These include Rhetoric of Empire: US and China 1895-1905; The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990; Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (with Lloyd Gardner) and Bombing Civilians (with Yuki Tanaka).

The Schedule of the Seminar

The four weeks of the seminar are devoted to intensive research, writing, and discussion. The schedule provides time for research in local libraries and archives as well as for discussion sessions and writing. Seminar meetings take place at the Library of Congress.

During the first week, participants discuss their project proposals and explore the chronology and key themes of decolonization. They  tour the Library of Congress and other local archives. The second and third weeks are devoted to conducting research and drafting projects, as well as to discussions of the intellectual content and writing style of the evolving drafts. Two public lectures are held during these weeks and guest speakers attend seminar meetings to discuss the issues raised in the lectures. The fourth week of the seminar is given over to reading and presentation of the final drafts of  the 6,000-word chapters or articles.

Application and Selection Process

The application deadline is Wednesday, October 15, 2014.  Applications should be e-mailed to

Applications should include the following seven components:

1. A cover letter of not more than two pages that includes the proposed title of the article or chapter and a brief (not more than 100 words) description of the proposed research.

2. A statement certifying that the applicant is fluent in both written and spoken English. All seminar proceedings and the written work are in English.

3. A c.v. of not more than  two pages.

4. A research statement of about 1,000 words outlining the project and its goals, as well as its place within the literature of decolonization. It should briefly indicate work the applicant has already done on the topic.

5. A selected bibliography (one to two pages) of works relevant to the project.

6. A map indicating the area or areas on which the proposed project will focus.

7. A list of the major archives or sources in Washington, D.C. the applicant proposes to use during the four weeks, including specific collections or record groups, if known.

8. Three letters of recommendation in support of the application, sent by the recommenders directly to the National History Center. The letters should, if possible, be e-mailed to  They should follow the guidelines available at Guidelines for Letters of Recommendation.

When preparing their applications, applicants may find it helpful to consult these guides to research resources in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere:
“Research Repositories in Washington, D.C.”
and the American Historical Association’s Archives Wiki.

A committee composed of the seminar faculty selects the fifteen participants. Participants will be notified by mid-January 2015 of their acceptance into the program. Questions about the application process should be addressed to Amanda Moniz, PhD, assistant director of the National History Center, at or 202-450-3209.

The international seminars on decolonization are supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.