This Wednesday, at the British Museum, the Smithsonian and Zocalo host a discussion on what it means to be an American. They've asked this provocative question, "Will America always be a British colony?" and assembled a panel--including yours truly--to debate it. If you're in London, please come! Sign up here.
When Americans took a great leap of faith into popular sovereignty in 1776, they defined themselves in opposition to the culture and politics of Great Britain. Yet nearly 250 years later, Britain holds a grip on the American imagination. Americans swoon over British accents, set their DVRs for Downton Abbey, and devote Pinterest pages to Kate Middleton’s hair. Adele is just the latest Brit to rule American pop charts, and British actors, always a dominant force in Hollywood, are now commanding the roles of even the most American of icons, from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr. This cultural affection for all things British reflects a deeper relationship between the two countries that has often been described as “special”—one that has been only strengthened by wars, changing global power dynamics, and economic upheaval. Will a more diverse America, with fewer people who trace their ancestry to the British Isles, continue to see itself as connected to Britain? American-British television presenter Loyd Grossman, That’s Not English author Erin Moore, The Economisteditor and columnist Adrian Wooldridge, and London School of Economics director Craig Calhoun ponder the lingering influence of Britain on the U.S., and whether the two nations’ deep alliance is on the verge of historic change.