Brooke L. Blower is associate professor of history at Boston University. Her research focuses on modern American politics, culture, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. She is currently writing a book about Americans overseas on the eve of and during World War II. Combat GIs dominate the history and memory of the war. But frontline soldiers constituted only a small fraction of the unprecedented millions of Americans stationed on six continents, both in and out of uniform, during the 1940s. This project traces the backstories of a diverse group of noncombatants and their paths into the global conflict in order to offer a panoramic portrait of American wartime engagements. Related articles have appeared in the American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, and the book she co-edited with Mark P. Bradley, The Familiar Made Strange: American Icons and Artifacts after the Transnational Turn (2015). Her first book, Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars (2011) won the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the James P. Hanlan Best Book Award from the New England Historical Association. Her publication “From Isolationism to Neutrality: A New Framework for Understanding American Political Culture, 1919-1941” Diplomatic History (April 2014), won the Stuart L. Bernath Article Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). Blower has received three prizes for her teaching, including the Metcalf Cup and Prize, Boston University’s highest teaching honor. She has also received an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship and SHAFR’s Stuart L. Bernath Lecture Prize as well as funding from the American Philosophical Society and the Mellon Foundation. With Sarah Phillips she co-edits Modern American History, a Cambridge University Press journal that covers all aspects of United States history since the 1890s.
This lecture offers a wide-ranging history of Americans' penchant for building fortified outposts in foreign territories from the colonial era to the present. Tracing the purposes and practices of forts, trading posts, "factories," and military bases-- and peering into the often raucous world of their inhabitants-- it shows how how instrumental Americans abroad have been to the projection of American power as well as U.S. state and empire building.