History

Why the Civil War is still important to Americans: An interview with David W. Blight

Yale University Professor David W. Blight is an expert on the US Civil War. He discusses how Americans differ in their perception of the war and whether this will change in the presence of the first African-American president, Barack Obama. Professor Blight was a guest of the US Studies Centre and the University of Sydney's History Department.

Keywords: Civil War; racial politics; African-American history; Barack Obama

Four minutes with American historian Richard White

Richard White, a professor of history at Stanford University, is widely regarded as one of America's leading scholars in three related fields: the American West, Native American history and environmental history. Here he speaks about his research.

Keywords: American West; Native American history; environmental history

Glenn Loury on racial inequality in the US

Despite the successes of the civil rights movement and the election of Barack Obama as America's first black President, leading US public intellectual from Brown University, Glenn Loury, says that racial inequalities persist and show no signs of going away anytime soon. In this interview Professor Loury explains the long term effects of unemployment amongst low educated African Americans and other minorities, and argues for geographically targeted measures to address the problems in poor communities in many of America's large cities.

Keywords: Barack Obama; African-Americans; racial inequality; unemployment; poverty; Civil Rights movement

Obama, attitudes toward race and the Tea Party movement

In this interview Harvard University's Professor of African American Studies, Jennifer Hochschild, considers the impact that the Obama presidency is having on racial attitudes in America. As part of this discussion, she notes that the impact of geography on attitudes towards race is not talked about as much as it should be. Turning to the controversy surrounding the Tea Party movement, Professor Hochschild argues it is very difficult to tease out racial hostility as an independent factor motivating their cause.

Keywords: Barack Obama; Tea Party; racial politics; racial inequality; elections; African Americans

Obama: The exception to prove the rule?

Despite claims to the contrary, Barack Obama's presidency does not herald a post-racial America or a new black politics, according to US Studies Centre visitor, African-American cultural expert, Professor Kevin Gaines. Gaines is the Director of the Center for Afro-American and African Studies, and Professor of History at the University of Michigan and in this interview he discusses the topic of Barack Obama and African American politics.

Keywords: post-racial; racial politics; Barack Obama; African-Americans; racial inequality

Peter Beinart on American foreign policy hubris

Peter Beinart is a recognised expert on American foreign policy. An associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, Beinart is also a senior political writer for the popular blog The Daily Beast. In this interview Beinart explains the title of his most recent book, The Icarus Syndrome: a history of American hubris, and discusses the challenges facing President Obama which include two unfinished wars and the attempted revival of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Keywords: US foreign policy; Barack Obama; Middle East; 9/11

Professor Jack Rakove on the lasting importance of the US Constitution

Pulitzer Prize winning historian Professor Jack Rakove discusses the importance of the US Constitution in contemporary American life. Why do Americans unite so strongly around this document and what do fights about its meaning say about American national cohesion? He begins by discussing the lasting significance of Founding Father James Madison.

Keywords: Constitution; James Madison; originalists; pragmatists

Kathleen Burk on the US-UK relationship

Centre guest Kathleen Burk is the professor emerita of modern and contemporary history at University College London. In this interview, she discusses the shared history of the United States and the United Kingdom, beginning by considering whether the relationship should be considered a special one.

Keywords: US-UK special relationship; Transatlantic ties