Historian Daniel Immerwahr Explores What America’s Territories Reveal About American HistoryHistorians in the News
tags: empire, colonialism, American History, geography
Picture a map of the United States and what do you see? From the two coasts that frame the mental snapshot up to the friendly mitten of Michigan and down to the staggered edge of Texas, you might be thinking of the contiguous states.
That’s the “logo map” of the country, writes Northwestern historian Daniel Immerwahr, and it’s not quite right. In fact, he pointed out in a recent interview, it’s “only been a correct map of the country for three years of its history.”
It’s not just because the map is missing Alaska and the peppering of the Hawaiian islands. It also excludes the places that are still territories of the United States—Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was also common for earlier iterations of U.S. maps to ignore former territories like the Panama Canal Zone, which the U.S. held from 1904 to 1976, and the Philippines, which the U.S. controlled from 1898 to 1946, minus when it was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II.
In his upcoming book How to Hide an Empire, Immerwahr sets out to tell the history of the Greater United States, what lies beyond the mainland. He traces the legacy of empire to the U.S.’s founding, explores why the nation avoids this particular part of its past and fills the book with fascinating stories from past and present territories. Immerwahr spoke with Smithsonian about these missing chapters of American history and what the U.S.’s empire looks like today.
comments powered by Disqus
- Why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- Rudy Giuliani comparing impeachment to the Salem witch trials is a little right and a lot wrong, expert says
- U.N. Report Bolsters Theory That Hammarskjold Plane Was Downed
- Panama celebrates its black Christ, part of protest against colonialism and slavery
- Fundamentalism turns 100, a landmark for the Christian Right
- Labor Historian Staughton Lynd's Book Is Embraced by Google Workers and Uber Drivers
- Rick Perry recommended former ambassador, historian Daniel Yergin for Ukraine reforms-U.S. Energy Dept
- Ginsburg predicts historians will call this political era an 'aberration'
- American Historical Association Announces 2019 Prize Winners
- A New History Celebrates Brooklyn’s Heights, and Depths Image