FAC - 2016 : Forging the American Century: World War II and the transformation of U.S. internationalism
Call For Papers
Call For Papers
Forging the American Century
World War II and the transformation of U.S. internationalism
Nijmegen, the Netherlands, October 27-28
The intersection of contemporary debates about the future of American power and recent developments in the field of diplomatic history compel us to reconsider the foundations and contours of the American Century.
“Forging the American Century”, seeks to combine the current concern for America’s changing role in the world with new and developing insights into the nature of international relations to revisit the origins of the American Century: World War II and its aftermath. The conference is not about the high diplomacy of the war, nor is it necessarily about the start of the Cold War. Instead, it will address the ways in which the World War and America’s rise to global power drove Americans in different fields, both inside and outside the sphere of formal diplomacy, to forge new connections with the world. We will also address the many ways in which people around the world responded to the new or changing American presence.
By invoking the term “American Century”, we do not intend to link up to Henry Luce’s original arguments. With its confusing mix of jingoism, democratic idealisms, free market enthusiasm, nationalism, and naiveté, Luce’s “American Century” has rarely been taken seriously as a blueprint for American internationalism. However, the concept of an “American Century” has recently made a comeback in discussions about the United States’ relative decline. Can the United States maintain its international economic position in the face of Chinese competition? Have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq caused irreparable damage to its role as an international leader? Will rising powers, especially the much-discussed BRICS countries, challenge the liberal world order that the United States has built and sustained?
The running debates over the future of American power make this an opportune moment to reconsider the foundations of U.S. internationalism, especially in the light of recent innovations in the field of diplomatic history. Over the past fifteen years, terms such as empire, soft power, and anti-Americanism have become commonplace in discussions of America’s role in the world. Foreign policy, power politics, and the work of statesmen and professional diplomats no longer dominate histories of U.S. foreign relations. Current scholarly interest in soft power, public diplomacy, and Americanization have opened the field to the study of culture. “New” diplomatic historians study the role of individuals, networks, musicians, athletes, transnational movements and a wide variety of other forms of “informal” diplomacy. A focus on American action has made room for the study of interaction: the ways in which peoples throughout the world have resisted, negotiated, or welcomed the American presence.
Disciplines and topics
We welcome scholars from all disciplinary and theoretical backgrounds to present fresh insights into the historical foundations of U.S. power and the international order it helped to create during and (immediately) after the Second World War. The following questions may be helpful in formulating contributions to this conference:
(1) How did the War and its aftermath change the practice of diplomacy? How did diplomats develop new strategies to reach out to the world? How did they coopt private initiatives or vice versa?
(2) How did individuals, companies, civic groups, and other “informal” diplomats shape America’s global presence during and after the war?
(3) How did the United States shape the international environment through its support for new diplomatic, financial, and economic institutions? To what extent did those new institutions shape U.S. actions?
(4) How did America’s new role in the world shape its domestic culture, politics, or society?
(5) How have Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans resisted, negotiated, or welcomed the new American presence.
(6) How have processes of historical memory and (re)interpretations of World War II shaped U.S. internationalism in domestic and transnational contexts?
Our key note speakers
We are delighted to welcome these distinguished scholars to our conference:
• Professor David Ellwood (Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe, Bologna)
• Dr. Justin Hart (Texas Tech University);
• Professor Bruce Kuklick (University of Pennsylvania)
We invite proposals for 20-minute papers. Please send a 300 word abstract and brief biographical note to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15, 2016
Date and location
The conference will take place at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, on October 27-28, 2016. This conference is an initiative of the North American Studies Program at the Radboud University. For more information about our program and our staff please visit www.ru.nl/nas.
Please note that a small fee may apply for participants in this conference.