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Diplomatic History

Queering America and the world

“We had him down as a rent boy,” remarked a bartender in Brussels about Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspected jihadists in the recent Paris attacks. Several reports noted that Abdeslam frequented gay bars and flirted with other men. These revelations were difficult to slot into existing media narratives and stood in uneasy relation to his posited allegiance with the group best known in the United States as ISIS. After all, there have been numerous credible reports of ISIS’s violent condemnation and abuse of queer people. In many instances, the penalty for homosexuality has been death.

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Celebrating African American inventors

It’s been over 195 years since Thomas Jennings received a patent for a dry cleaning process, and black inventors have continued to change, innovate and enhance day-to-day life. This Black History Month, the team behind the Oxford African American Studies Center is excited to explore some of the many inventions, dreamed up, brought to life, and patented by black inventors.

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Mary Church Terrell: a capital crusader

When Mary Church Terrell died on 24 July 1954, at the age of 90, her place in civil rights history seemed secure. She had served as the first president of the National Association of Colored Women. She had been a charter member of the NAACP.

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Watts Riots: Black Families Matter

On 11 August 1965, the Watts Riots exploded in Los Angeles taking the nation by surprise. Sparked by an arrest that escalated into a skirmish between local residents and police, the riots lasted six days. They laid bare the seething discontent that lay just beneath the surface in many black communities.

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Roe v. Wade and the remaking of the pro-life movement

On 11 January 1973, members of the North Dakota Right to Life Association braved the frigid temperatures in Bismarck to convene their first annual convention. Having won a sweeping victory at the ballot box only two months earlier, they were optimistic about the future and were ready to move on to the second phase of pro-life activism.

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Miley Cyrus and the culture of excess in American history

Miley Cyrus has shocked the world anew with a recent CANDY Magazine photo shoot by over-the-top fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Cyrus sticks her tongue out with enthusiasm—and does much more. In one image, she is “dressed” in a police officer’s uniform, except that she is not wearing a shirt and a pair of handcuffs is displayed prominently.

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A memorial for Gallows Hill

We now know the precise location where 19 innocent victims were hanged for witchcraft in Salem in 1692. I am honored to be a member of the Gallows Hill Project team who has worked with the City of Salem to confirm the location on a lower section of Gallows Hill known as Proctor’s Ledge. And I am pleased too that the city has already begun planning to properly memorialize the site.

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Thomas Paine’s Common Sense turns 240 years old

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

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Cultural foreign policy from the Cold War to today

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards, the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy The Interview wasn’t on the list. That Oscar spurned this “bromance” surprised nobody. Most critics hated the film and even Rogen’s fans found it one of his lesser works. Those audiences almost didn’t have a chance to see the film.

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Gender politics of the generic “he”

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what pronouns to use for persons whose gender is unknown, complicated, or irrelevant. Options include singular they and invented, common-gender pronouns. Each has its defenders and its critics.

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Complicating Rosie the Riveter

American women’s roles during World War II were much more complicated than the iconic Rosie the Riveter image suggests. The popular poster does, however, serve as an intriguing starting point for discussing a more complex history, one which reveals ongoing attempts by those in authority to rein in disruptive and unruly women.

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From teaspoons to tea-sots: the language of tea

Tea was first imported into Britain early in the seventeenth century, becoming very popular by the 1650s. The London diarist Samuel Pepys drank his first cup in 1660, as recorded in his famous diary: “I did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I had never drunk before.”

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Can history help us manage humanitarian crises?

People frequently ask whether the study of history can help in managing humanitarian crises. This question is particularly timely given the massive outflow of refugees from Syria and the problems of admitting large numbers of refugees to other countries, including the United States.

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Suffragette and the cost of winning the vote for women

People often find their interest in a cause awakened by a dramatization on stage, screen, between the pages of a book or, these days, on YouTube. This fall, Americans are learning about the highly dramatic battle in Britain to win the vote for women.

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