Category Archives: Lecture Series

The National History Center has entered into a partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations for a series of lectures. Twice a year, a historian addresses an audience on a foreign relation topic from the perspective of history.

July 16: Elizabeth Borgwardt on Decolonization, Human Rights, and the Birth of the U.N.

In Conjunction with the Eighth International Seminar on Decolonization,

A public lecture by 

Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University in St. Louis:

“Present at the Creation?” Human Rights, NGOs, and the Trusteeship Debate at the 1945 UN San Francisco Conference

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 4 p.m. in Room LJ119, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

This talk is the story of how “human rights” ideas and institutions found their way into the 1945 United Nations Charter, after having having been left out of earlier drafts of that document. Accordingly, this research analyses the role of “modern” public opinion sampling, the carefully cultivated role of non-governmental organizations, as well as the role of unintended consequences for U.S. diplomacy around issues of race, decolonization, and trusteeship. This story also addresses constraints and contradictions within the Charter itself around protecting domestic jurisdiction and minimizing the role of “smaller” countries.

Elizabeth Borgwardt specializes in the history of international law with a focus on human rights ideas and institutions. As Associate Professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis, she also holds a courtesy appointment in Law. She recently served as the Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, was published by the Belknap imprint of Harvard University Press in 2005 and is in its fourth printing. A New Deal for the World garnered the Merle Curti book award from the Organization of American Historians as the best book of its year in the history of ideas. It was also recognized with an award for the Best First Book in U.S. Foreign Relations and the History Honor Society’s award for the Best First Book on any history topic. Borgwardt has held fel lowships with Harvard, Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley, New York University, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive, as well as a Fulbright with the University of Heidelberg, where she remains a permanent faculty affiliate. Her current project on crimes against humanity in history, law, and politics is under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.

Eighth International Seminar on Decolonization to Convene July 7, 2013

The  National History Center’s Eighth International Seminar on Decolonization convened  July 7, 2013, bringing a new cohort of scholars  at the beginning of their careers to Washington, DC for four weeks of research, discussion, and writing on this emerging topic. Hosted by the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, the seminar is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

It again is directed by Wm. Roger Louis of the University of Texas at Austin, Founding Director of the National History Center of the American Historical Association. Returning faculty members are Pillarisetti Sudhir, former editor of the AHA’s magazine, Perspectives on History, and Perspectives Online; Dane Kennedy of George Washington University; Philippa Levine of the University of Texas at Austin; and Jason Parker of Texas A&M University. Lori Watt, an alumna of the Third Seminar, will join the faculty for the summer of 2013.

The participants and the projects they will pursue during the seminar include:

John Aerni-Flessner, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY:  “Politicians, Youth and Peace Corps Volunteers: Re-imagining Nationalism through the Rhetoric of Development in Late 1960’s Lesotho”;

Marc Andre, Paris-Sorbonne, Paris, France:  “Lyons and North Africa, 1947-1974”;

Isabel de Souza Lima Junqueira Barreto, University Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: “Between Portugal, Angola and Brazil: Portuguese Immigration to Brazil 1974-77”;

Ellen Boucher, Amherst College, Amherst, MA: “Decolonization and the Transatlantic Politics of Disaster Preparedness, 1945-1960”

Nicole Bourbonnais, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA: “Decolonization, Population and the Cold War: The American Government and Family Planning in the West Indies, 1950-1970”;

Leena Dallasheh, Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University, New York, NY:  “Contested Citizenship: Nazareth in the Transition from the Mandate to Israel”;

Andrew Dilley, Department of History, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK: “Rethinking the Business of Decolonization: The Decline, Revival and Fall of the Federation of Commonwealth Chambers of Commerce, 1945-75”;

Charlie Laderman, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK: “Sharing the Burden: The Armenian Question and the Search for a New World Order, 1894-1923”;

Jose Pedro Monteiro, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal: “Native Labor and Decolonization: Portugal and the United States of America”;

Jessica Pearson-Patel, New York University, New York, NY: “Anti-Colonialism at the United Nations: State Diplomacy, International Public Opinion, and the End of the Colonial Era in Sub-Saharan Africa”;

Juan Romero, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY: “Decolonization in Reverse: The Iranian Oil Crisis 1951-1953”;

Devika Sethi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India: “Threatening Print: Press Censorship in India and the United States during and after the Second World War”;

Joanna Tague, Denison University, Granville, OH: “The Rise of International Humanitarianism and the Fall of Empire: Organizations that Assisted Luso-African Refugees in the 1960s and 1970s”;

Birte Timm, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica: “From Colony to Nationhood and Beyond: The Creation of a Transnational Jamaican Identity in the Diaspora”; and

Annalisa Urbano, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK: “Italian Somalia and Decolonization.”

Three public lectures are part of the seminar. On Tuesday, July 16, Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University in St. Louis spoke on “Present at the Creation? Human Rights, NGOs, and the Trusteeship Debate at the 1945 UN San Francisco Conference.” On Tuesday, July 23, American Historical Association President Kenneth Pomeranz of the University of Chicago will discuss “Resisting Imperialism, Resisting Decolonization: Making ‘China’ from the Ruins of the Qing, 1912-1949.” And on Tuesday, July 30, seminar director Wm. Roger Louis will present “Another Dimension of Empire: The History of the Oxford University Press.” All three lectures are at 4:00 p.m. in Room LJ 119 of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C. All are welcome and no tickets are needed.

Washington History Seminar Spring Semester 2013 Schedule

Announcing the 2013 Spring Semester schedule for the Washington History Seminar – Historical Perspectives on International and National Affairs. Below are listed the speakers, the dates on which they will be speaking, and their respective topics.

January 28: Eric Foner (Columbia), Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

February 4: Michael Dobbs (WWC), origins of the Cold War

February 11: Linda Colley (Princeton), written constitutions and global history – (tentatively rescheduled for September 23)

February 18: No meeting: President’s Day

February 25: David Ottaway (WWC), The Arab Revolution

March 4: Charles King (Georgetown), Istanbul in the interwar years

March 11: Robert Townsend (American Historical Association), the end of the historical enterprise

March 18: Samuel F. Wells (WWC), Stalin’s decision for war in Korea

March 25: No meeting: Passover

April 1: Arthur Eckstein (Maryland), Weatherman, Terrorism, and the Counterculture

April 8: Roger Owen (Harvard), the Arab Spring

April 15: Gill Bennett (British Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Britain: Six Moments of Crisis

April 22: Dina Khoury (George Washington), Martyrdom and the Normalization of War in Iraq

April 29: Susan Pedersen (Columbia), Getting Out of Iraq in 1932

 May 6: Rachel Swarns (WWC and New York Times), American Tapestry: The Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama

May 13: Richard Carwardine (Oxford), Lincoln and Emancipation: Presidential Intent at Home and Abroad

May 20: Konrad Jarausch (North Carolina and WWC), The Berlin Republic: German Unification Twenty-Five Years Later

(WWC) indicates fellows and senior scholars of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the co-sponsor of the seminar.

The seminar meets Mondays at 4 p.m. at the Wilson Center during the academic year. Reservations, suggested because of limited seating, are accepted one week prior to each seminar at