Theodore Roosevelt: Global American

24-26 May 2023

Roosevelt Institute for American Studies


Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most internationally oriented presidents in U.S. history. He travelled extensively, enjoyed a large network of friends abroad, and maintained a close familiarity with global developments. International reform projects, the state of conservation and resource development, and the potential for an international security architecture ranged highly among his interests.

But while Roosevelt was keenly aware of global developments and the international context in which the United States operated, he was also an ardent nationalist and imperialist. He rejected cosmopolitanism as ‘unpatriotic’ and racialized understandings of international relations shaped his global outlooks. For TR, the ‘Global’ served both as stage for the globalization of U.S. interests and simultaneously as inspiration for progressive political, social, economic, and environmental reforms.

In addition, Roosevelt also frequently served audiences at home and abroad as focal point and personification for their perceptions, interrogations, and evaluations of the United States in the world. His global outreach fascinated or repelled national and international audiences alike. It encouraged Americans to critically engage with the state of global affairs while it simultaneously underwrote many international assessments of the United States as Roosevelt came to epitomize the ever increasing role of the United States in world affairs. In this process of personification and conflation, TR was often re-defined and appropriated by international audiences to serve their specific interests in and understandings of the United States.

This workshop will:

  • Explore the importance of global outlooks and perspectives to Theodore Roosevelt
  • Evaluate how TR’s ‘world-making’ influenced contemporary discussions of globalism and globalization(s) in the United States
  • Expand the spatial lens of international perceptions of TR beyond the standard transatlantic framework by including voices and perspectives on Roosevelt from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific World.
  • Engage the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt as a conceptual framework to highlight the entangled and embedded character of the Progressive Era in the global scope of reform to further explore how global history approaches can serve as useful analytical lenses for the writing of U.S. history.

The workshop makes distinct contributions to the internationalization of TR scholarship, the historiography of the Progressive Era, and the writing of global history. It emphasizes the importance of global imaginaries and their social construction to Roosevelt, the United States, and international audience responses to TR and his legacy in a variety of world regions. It also re-affirms the interpretative power of embedding the U.S. experience in histories of global reform and by underlining the great variety of entanglements, transfers, and appropriations to counter exceptionalist narratives. Finally, the workshop also affords an opportunity to probe the utility of actor-centered/biographical approaches to the writing of global history.

We welcome contributions which explore a) the importance of global outlooks and perspectives for Theodore Roosevelt, b) the impact of TR on the global imaginary in the United States, and c) global perceptions, rejections, appropriations, and memories of Theodore Roosevelt and their intersection with perspectives on the role of the United States in the world.

The full list of conference topics as well as more information about the conference and on how to apply as a speaker can be found here. The deadline for submitting a 300-word proposal (and a CV) is 31 January 2023.