Episode 99: The 40 Acres During World War I

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: Ben Wright, Associate Director for Communications, Briscoe Center for American History

With America’s entry into World War One in April 1917, life immediately changed for many young Americans. Nowhere was this change more evident than on college and university campuses. The University of Texas, with its 3,000 students, was a typical example: the liberal arts were set aside in favor of military drills for young men, and nursing classes for young women.

As we near the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day, Ben Wright from UT’s Briscoe Center for American History, takes a look at World War One on our very own home front: the storied Forty Acres of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Episode 95: The Impossible Presidency

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History
Guest: Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, LBJ School of Public Affairs and Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin

Over the past two and a half centuries, the expectations placed upon the office of the President have changed and evolved with each individual charged with holding the position. From George Washington to Barack Obama, each occupant has left his mark on the office. However, since WWII, the occupant of America’s highest office has aspired to do more and more, but seems to have accomplished less and less. Have the expectations placed upon the office actually made the position less effective?

In his new book The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office, returning guest Jeremi Suri (UT-Austin) takes a long historical look at what has made presidents successful in the role of chief executive, and asks whether the office has evolved to take on too much responsibility to govern effectively.

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Episode 94: Populism

Host: Henry Weincek, Institute for Historical Studies
Guest: Steven Hahn, New York University

1892populistposterPopulism seems to describe everything in America these days, from politics to styles of communication. Some might say that it’s used so often, and in so many context, that it’s lost most of its meaning. But populism, or the movement from which it gets its name, arose in a specific context in American history at the end of the 19th century, and revisiting the history of this specific movement can help us understand how and why the term is used the way it is in present day politics.

Our guest for this episode, Dr. Steven Hahn of New York University, literally wrote the book on populism and helps us turn this political buzzword into a historical phenomenon from a time period in American history that has a number of parallels with our own.

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Episode 91: The History of the Family

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: Steven Mintz, Professor, Department of History

9780674019980“Kids today.” Everyone says it, it seems, in reference to the idea that children today are spoiled, raised with poor values, and somehow have it worse than their parents generation. This notion dominates discussions from political debates to stand up comedy acts. But, what defines the stages of life and how people are supposed to act in each? Has it always been that way?

Steven Mintz has long been interested in the transformations of family life through the ages and, in this episode, talks about how nearly everything we think we know about family life would be unrecognizable even a century ago.

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Episode 90: Stokely Carmichael: A Life

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: Peniel E. Joseph, Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values, and Founding Director, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Professor, Department of History, UT-Austin

14894638Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for “Black Power” during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night.

This week, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life, winner of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change National Book Award (2014), discusses Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

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Episode 87: Nigeria’s Civil War & The Origins of American Humanitarian Interventions

Host: Samantha Rose Rubino, UT School of Law
Guest: Brian McNeil, Fellow, Institute for Historical Studies, UT-Austin

Humanitarian intervention has become such an accepted part of international relations, and our news headlines are full of stories about humanitarian efforts from the Balkans in the 1990s to Syria today. But it wasn’t always the case – the concept of humanitarian intervention originates at a specific time and place, as today’s guest explains.

Brian McNeil specializes in history of United States foreign relations, and is currently revising his book manuscript titled, Frontiers of Need: the Nigerian Civil War and the Origins of American Humanitarian Intervention, the subject of this episode.

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Episode 84: Behind the Tower: New Histories of the UT Tower Shooting

Fifty years ago, on August 1, 1966, twenty-five year old student Charles Whitman killed 16 people and wounded at least 32 more at UT Austin.  A former Marine sharpshooter, he went to the 28th-floor observation deck of the UT Tower and began shooting people on the ground as they walked by or tried to hide. A news cameraman set up a camera under the tower so the shooting was broadcast on television. Several police officers and a recently retired Air Force officer made their way to the top of the tower not knowing what they would find and, after the rampage had lasted 96 minutes, Houston McCoy and Ramiro Martinez killed the sniper. Later it was found that Whitman had killed his mother and wife in the early hours of the morning.

These events were seared into the memory of everyone living in Austin, but historians have neglected the story and, for decades, the university avoided and eventually suppressed it. A small plaque on a hard to locate rock was only erected in 2008. Why?

In Spring 2016, as the fiftieth anniversary neared, graduate students in the UT History Department’s Public History seminar led by Joan Neuberger decided to make the history of the tower shooting more widely available and accessible to the public. They examined documents in local archives and wrote a collection of historical essays on many important aspects of that day’s events, as well as on the historical context, and the aftermath. And they put these essays on a website. In this episode, Neuberger discusses the project with four of those students: Itza Carbajal, Maria Hammack, Rebecca Johnston, and John Lisle.

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Episode 78: The U.S. and Decolonization after World War II

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: R. Joseph Parrott, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History

William_Orpen_–_The_Signing_of_Peace_in_the_Hall_of_Mirrors,_Versailles_1919,_AusschnittFollowing World War II, a large part of the world was in the hands of European powers, established as colonies in the previous centuries. As one of the nations that came out on top of the geo-political situation, the United States was looked to with hope by aspiring nationalist movements, but also seen as a potential source by European allies in the war as a potential supporter of the move to restore the tarnished empires to their former glory. What’s a newly emerged world power to do?

Guest R. Joseph Parrott takes a look at the indecisive position the United States took on decolonization after helping liberate Europe from the threat of enslavement to fascism.

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Episode 73: The Borderlands War, 1915-20

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: John Moran Gonzalez, Associate Professor, Department of English

prospective-farmersIn the early part of the 20th century, Texas became more integrated into the United States with the arrival of the railroad. With easier connections to the country, its population began to shift away from reflecting its origins as a breakaway part of Mexico toward a more Anglo demographic, one less inclined to adapt to existing Texican culture and more inclined to view it through a lens of white racial superiority. Between 1915 and 1920, an undeclared war broke out that featured some of the worst racial violence in American history; an outbreak that’s become known as the Borderlands War.

Guest John Moran Gonzales from UT’s Department of English and Center for Mexican American Studies has curated an exhibition on the Borderlands War called “Life and Death on the Border, 1910-1920,” and tells us about this little known episode in Mexican-American history.

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Episode 66: Operation Intercept

Host: Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: James Martin, Doctoral Student, Department of History

President Richard Nixon and Mexico's President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz shake hands at a ceremony on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande River 9/8 near Del Rio after they dedicated the Amistad Dam, in background.

At 2:30 pm on Saturday September 21 1969, US president Richard Nixon announced ‘the largest peacetime search and seizure operation in history.’ Intended to stem the flow of marijuana into the United States from Mexico, the three-week operation resulted in a near shut down of all traffic across the border and was later referred to by Mexico’s foreign minister as the lowest point in his career.

Guest James Martin from UT’s Department of History describes the motivations for President Nixon’s historic unilateral reaction and how it affected both Americans as well as our ally across the southern border.

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Episode 65: Darwinism and the Scopes “Monkey Trial”

Host: Joan Neuberger, editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Adam Shapiro, Lecturer in Cultural and Intellectual History, Birkbeck University, London

561px-Origin_of_Species_title_pageControversies over the theory of evolution are well documented in American society: according to a Gallup poll conducted in the late 1990s, 44% of the American public rejects it in favor of the Biblical account of creation. Has this always been the case? Did Charles Darwin and early proponents of evolution encounter the same objections when the theory was first proposed in the late 19th century? And did evolution come out of nowhere as a radical new idea, taking the world by surprise? Not necessarily, as it turns out.

In an episode recorded on location in London, Adam Shapiro from Birkbeck University describes how evolution was first received in the United States, and the debates that led up to its most famous test–the Scopes “Monkey Trial” held in Dayton, Tennessee, in the 1920s.

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Episode 59: John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Henry Wiencek, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History

John D. Rockefeller in 1885 (The Rockefeller Archive)Perhaps no individual in American history has achieved such meteoric heights as John D. Rockefeller, who embodies the image of the self-made man who rose from humble origins to become one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.  He has also become the archetype of the ruthless capitalist, singlehandedly crushing competition and ignoring attempts to restrict or regulate his activities. Love him or hate him, his name casts a long shadow over the early 20th century.

Guest Henry Wiencek explores the deep contradictions and equally varied representations of John D. Rockefeller, the self-made millionaire whose name became synonymous with industry and free enterprise.

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Episode 50: White Women of the Harlem Renaissance

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Carla Kaplan, Professor of American Literature, Northeastern University

JosSchuylerDuring the explosion of African American cultural and political activity that came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance, a number of white women played significant roles. Their involvement with blacks as authors, patrons, supporters and participants challenged ideas about race and gender and proper behavior for both blacks and whites at the time.

Guest Carla Kaplan, author of Miss Anne in Harlem: White Women of the Harlem Renaissance, joins us to talk about the ways white women crossed both racial and gender lines during this period of black affirmation and political and cultural assertion.

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Episode 49: The Harlem Renaissance

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Frank Guridy, Professor, Department of History and Director, John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies.

harlem_hayden_jeunesse_lgIn the early 20th century, an unprecedented cultural and political movement brought African-American culture and history to the forefront of the US. Named the Harlem Renaissance after the borough where it first gained traction, the movement spanned class, gender, and even race to become one of the most important cultural movements of the interwar era.

Guest Frank Guridy joins us to discuss the multifaceted, multilayered movement that inspired a new generation of African-Americans—and other Americans—and demonstrated the importance of Black culture and its contributions to the West.

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Episode 43: Segregating Pop Music

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Karl Hagstrom Miller, Associate Professor, Department of History

51mq2FtFjrLAnyone who’s been to the music store lately (or shopped for digital downloads) is probably familiar with the concept of music categorized not only by genre, but also more subtler categorizations that might make us think of country music as “white” or hip-hop as “black.”  It might be surprising that such categorizations were a deliberate mechanism of the music industry and that, even at a time when American society was as racially divided as the late 19th century, such distinctions were usually neither considered nor proscribed onto genres of music.

Guest Karl Hagstrom Miller has spent a career using popular music to explore the economic, social, legal, and political history of the United States. In this episode, he helps us understand how popular music came to be segregated as artists negotiated the restrictions known as the “Jim Crow” laws.

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Episode 41: The Myth of Race in America

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Jacqueline Jones, Professor, Department of History

American Revolutionary War soldiers. On the far left is an African American in a Rhode Island regiment

There is no question that the idea of race has been a powerful driving force in American history since colonial times, but what exactly is race? How did it become the basis for the institution of slavery and the uneven power structure that in some ways still exists?  How has the idea of what constitutes race changed over time, and how have whites, blacks (and others) adapted and reacted to such fluid definitions?

Guest Jacqueline Jones, one of the foremost experts on the history of racial history in the United States, helps us understand race and race relations by exposing some of its astonishing paradoxes from the earliest day to Obama’s America.

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Episode 40: Developing the Amazon

Host: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Seth Garfield, Director, Institute for Historical Studies

garfieldamazonarielnew

During World War II, the governments of Brazil and the United States made an unprecedented level of joint investment in the economy and infrastructure of the Amazon region.  The dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas (1937-45) trumpeted the colonization and development of the Amazon (christened the “March to the West”) as a nationalist imperative to defend a sparsely settled frontier covering some sixty percent of Brazilian territory.

Guest Seth Garfield shows how a little-known chapter of World War II history illuminates the ways outsiders’ very understandings and representations of the nature of the Amazon have evolved over the course of the latter half of the twentieth century.

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Episode 38: The International Energy Crisis of the 1970s

FLAG_POLICY_DURING_THE_1973_oil_crisisHost: Joan Neuberger, Editor, Not Even Past and Professor, Department of History
Guest: Christopher R. W. Dietrich, Assistant Professor, History of U.S. Foreign Relations, Fordham University

Most Americans probably associate the 1973 oil crisis with long lines at their neighborhood gas stations, but those lines were caused by a complex patchwork of international relationships and negotiations that stretched around the globe.

Guest Chris Dietrich explains the origins of the energy crisis and the ways it shifted international relations in its wake.

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Episode 25: Mexican Migration to the US

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Miguel A. Levario, Assistant Professor of History, Texas Tech University

A bracero kneels in a pepper field in California to loosen the soil with a short-handled hoe. (Bracero Archive)

The words “Mexican immigration” are usually enough to start a vibrant, politically and emotionally charged debate. Yet, the history of Mexican migration to the U.S. involves a series of ups and downs—some Mexicans were granted citizenship by treaty after their lands were annexed to the U.S., and, until the 1970s, they were considered legally white—a privilege granted to no other group. At the same time, Mexicans crossing the border every day were subjected to invasive delousing procedures, and on at least two occasions were subjected to incentivized repatriation.

Guest Miguel A. Levario from Texas Tech University (and a graduate of UT’s Department of History!) walks us through the “schizophrenic” relationship between the US and its southern neighbor and helps us ponder whether there are any new ideas to be had in the century long debate it has inspired—or any easy answers.

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Episode 18: Eugenics

Host: Joan Neuberger, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Philippa Levine, Professor; Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities; Co-Director British Studies Program

Harry H. Laughlin, The Second International Exhibition of Eugenics held September 22 to October 22, 1921, in connection with the Second International Congress of Eugenics in the American Museum of Natural History, New York (Baltimore: William & Wilkins Co., 1923).

Early in the twentieth century, governments all over the world thought they had found a rational, efficient, and scientific solution to the related problems of poverty, crime, and hereditary illness.  Scientists hoped they might be able to help societies control the social problems that arose from these phenomena. All over the world, the science-turned-social-policy known as eugenics became a base-line around which social services and welfare legislation were organized.

Philippa Levine, co-editor of a newly published book on the history of eugenics, explains the appeal and wide-reaching effects of the eugenics movement, which at its best inspired access to pre-natal care, access to clean water, and the eradication of harmful diseases, but at its worst led to compulsory sterilization laws, and the horrific experiments of the Nazi death camps.

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Episode 16: The First Illegal Aliens?

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Madeline Y. Hsu, Associate Professor, Department of History, and Director, Center for Asian-American Studies

 "Another Field of American Industry Invaded by the Chinese": From Harper's Weekly: Harper's Weekly, Vol. 27 (1883).

Fears that the U.S. is being invaded by illegal aliens, of vast numbers waiting to stream across the border and undermine the American working class may seem ripped from the today’s headlines today, but a century and a half ago politicians weren’t looking south toward Mexico when debating immigration policies, they were looking west, toward China. Concerns over Chinese immigration shaped U.S. immigration policies in ways we still observe today.

Guest Madeline Y Hsu from UT’s Center for Asian-American Studies discusses the tumultuous experience of Chinese immigration to the U.S., the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and sheds light on the lingering immigration issues first discussed in the 19th century that continue to concern us in contemporary political debates.

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Episode 12: America’s Entry in to World War I

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Jeremi Suri, Professor of History and Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs (LBJ School of Public Affairs)

"Well, what are you going to do about it?," political cartoon by R.A. Allen depicting Woodrow Wilson and German Ambassador Johann von Bernstorff (date unknown, believed to be 1915).

World War I ended the long-standing American policy of neutrality in foreign wars, a policy seen as dating back to the time of George Washington. What forces conspired to bring the United States into World War I, and what was the reaction at home and abroad?

Historian Jeremi Suri walks us through the events and processes that brought the United States into The Great War.

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Episode 8: America and the Beginnings of the Cold War

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Jeremi Suri, Professor of History and Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs (LBJ School of Public Affairs)

British Prime Minister Clement Atlee, President Harry Truman, Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in Potsdam, Germany, 1945.

The Cold War dominated international politics for four and a half decades from 1945-1989, and was defined by a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that threatened—literally—to destroy the world. How did two nations that had been allies during World War II turn on each other so completely? And how did the United States, which had been only a marginal player in world politics before the war, come to view itself as a superpower?

In this episode, historian Jeremi Suri discusses the beginnings of the Cold War (1945-1989) its origins in the “unfinished business” of World War II, the role of the development of atomic weapons and espionage, and the ways that it changed the United States in just five short years between 1945 and 1950.

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