Over the past decade, scholars have begun to write the international history of the foundations. Influenced by the transnational turn in U.S. history as well as growing interdisciplinary interest in the role of non-state actors on the world stage, scholars such as Sunil Amrith, Volker Berghahn, Mary Brown Bullock, Anne-Emmanuelle Birn, Matthew Connelly, David Ekbladh, David Engerman, and John Krige have treated U.S. foundations as important international players. Some of these scholars have focused on foundations’ efforts in particular regions or nations. Others have shown how Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford helped to construct new global problems (underdevelopment, hunger, population control) as well as the transnational networks through which particular approaches to those problems emerged and came to dominate international practice. All of the new work has been grounded in close analysis of foundation records. What we have lacked is a full accounting of the evolution of the U.S. foundations’ ideologies and international grant-making in the context of a changing world order and of particular conditions in the field. We also need a study that looks closely at the relationship between foundations and the state over the course of the twentieth century.

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Copyright © 2014 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Reviews in American History 42:1 (2014), 121-126.

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