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Kluge Center Co-Sponsors Examination of American Institutions with Pillars of Democracy Series

For decades America’s civic and governmental institutions have lost the trust of the people, and sometimes even come under direct attack. Commentators offer various explanations for what has happened. Many point to a loss of faith in authority figures beginning with the Vietnam War and the corruption of Watergate. A movement in the 1960s and […]

Our Common Purpose: The Complete Collection

In June 2020, the Kluge Center announced Danielle Allen as the winner of the Kluge Prize, launching the Our Common Purpose Campaign for Civic Strength at the Library of Congress. Allen hosted a series of exciting conversations at the Library to explore the nation’s civic life and ways that people from all political beliefs and […]

The Pillars of Democracy

The major institutions in American society are in a moment of crisis. From the branches of government to religious and civic organizations, the media, and political parties, these key foundations of American life are less respected, less trusted, and less involved in forming the character of individuals than at any point in our history. The […]

Visualizing “Our Common Purpose”

This is a guest post by Lee Ann Potter, Director of Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives at  the Library of Congress Center for Learning, Literacy, & Engagement. “Our Common Purpose—A Campaign for Civic Strength at the Library of Congress,” a wealth of activities at the Library this spring. The theme, chosen by Danielle Allen, winner […]

Kissinger Chairs Reflect on the 20th Anniversary of the Chair’s Establishment

Introduction from the Director of the Kluge Center Around the turn of the century, then-Librarian of Congress James Billington secured a generous gift to endow the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations, concurrent with the opening of the Kluge Center. Many of Dr. Kissinger’s friends and colleagues, as well as foundations, […]

Nahuatl Passion Plays in the Colonial Era: An Interview With Louise Burkhart

Louise M. Burkhart is Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany as well as Jay I. Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas at the John W. Kluge Center. Andrew Breiner: Could you start by telling me a little about your background and […]

Wrestling with the Question of American Identity and Whether Consensus is Possible

On May 13, the John W. Kluge Center held a panel discussion on the changing interpretations of the nation’s founding principles, with the goal of illuminating a shared vision of the United States and its history for Americans across the spectrum of political beliefs. The full event is now available to view. Kluge Prize Winner […]

What Makes Americans American? Why Origin Stories Require Negotiation

Origin stories are never simple, and this is as true for countries as it is for individuals, ideas, and cultures. That the term “nation-state,” which designates one of the primary building blocks of modern geopolitical order, is a compound word speaks to this complexity, and there are many reasons why scholars are unable to fully […]

Watch: Scientist Ainissa Ramirez on How Materials Shape Us

On April 22 the Kluge Center released a Kluge Book Conversation with materials scientist and writer Ainissa Ramirez, author of “The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another.” In it, Ramirez examines eight inventions that introduced major changes to the way people live. The Kluge Center’s Dan Turello interviewed Ramirez on her […]