Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thank you, Benjamin Coates!

With the changing of the guest blogger guard (we recently welcomed David Rabban), it is time to bid a fond farewell to Benjamin Coates (Wake Forest University). In addition to bringing history to bear on the recent political controversy over drone strikes (here), he posted some wonderful material on how he has incorporated law into his survey course on U.S. Foreign Relations. Here's a snippet from Law and the U.S. Foreign Relations Survey, Part I: Expanding the Sphere, Filling the Gaps:
This past Fall I taught the first half of the United States & the World survey (1763-1914) for the first time. More so than most classes, the subject matter for this course tows a cartload of nationalist historical baggage. . . . [T]he challenge comes from the more deeply embedded assumption that the history of the United States is the history of a nation-state, and a powerful and exceptional nation-state at that. I knew that it would be a challenge to convince students that in global terms the early United States was a weak nation, a provincial backwater. And even students who are highly aware of the violent dispossession of Native Americans still have a hard time understanding that process not as national growth (“westward expansion”) but as empire (the conquest and rule of foreign peoples and nations).
In teaching these topics, I found law—both domestic and international—to be an invaluable companion. 
For easy access to the rest of the series, follow the links:
Law and the U.S. Foreign Relations Survey, Part II: Teaching the Founding as Foreign Relations 

Law and the U.S. Foreign Relations Survey, Part III: Empire and the Laws of Expansion

Law and the U.S. Foreign Relations Survey, Part IV: Law, Civilization, and Empire
From LHB and all its readers: Thank you, Benjamin Coates!