History and Politics Flashcards Preview

History in Public > History and Politics > Flashcards

Flashcards in History and Politics Deck (59):

Herbert Butterfield, 'The Whig Interpretation of History' (1831)

Butterfield: it was "the tendency in many historians to write on the side of Protestants and Whigs, to praise revolutions provided they have been successful, to emphasise certain principles of progress in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present."

Critical of ‘grand narratives’ that put parliamentary sovriegnty and personal liberty at the centre of British national history

Butterfield’s Solution to teleology: technical history Encourages historians to see competiting narratives as a struggle to make sense of their own age, not as a struggle to ‘control’ the past. Recognises innate subjectivity of these narratives actors of the past were not trying to bring about the present state, but how they acted did bring about the present state


What are the problems with Whig History?

Cronon, 'Two Cheers for the Whig Interpretation of History'

use of ‘whig’ (small W) and ‘whiggish’ to describe proponents of progressive narratives
oversimplified narratives—he called them "abridgements"—that achieve drama and apparent moral clarity by interpreting past events in light of present politics: teleological


What are the uses Whig History can be put to?

Cronon, 'Two Cheers for the Whig Interpretation of History'

Despite the danger of abridgement, there can be no history without abridgement. Butterfield realised that all history is abridgement and must be ‘in order to impose some semblance of order on what would otherwise feel like overwhelming chaos.’ (Cronon)

Whenever historians seek to make their knowledge accessible to a wider world—whether in books, classrooms, museums, videos, websites, or blogs—they unfailingly abridge, simplify, analyze, synthesize, dramatize, and render judgments about why things happened as they did in the past, and why people should still care today.
Possible to frame the past with ‘winding’ narratives instead of progressive ones, avoiding ‘the worst sins of whiggishness'

--> We’re right to be ‘suspicious’ of Whig histories, but cannot escape the ‘storytelling task of distilling history’s meanings’


How can History be of use to policy makers?

Reid, A., Szreter, S., History and Policy

‘one of the values of history in a liberal democracy could be to inform us about current policy-making’

- reports to government enquiries on a range of topics, including pensions, monetary policy, the NHS, carbon trading and waste strategy


What challenges are faced by Historians writing political-public history?

Reid, A., Szreter, S., History and Policy

- Could it be made accessible to the public?
- Would it be possible to get the attention of the public?


What is the aim of the History and Policy initiative?

Reid, A., Szreter, S., History and Policy

'If we can secure sufficient funding, our ambition is to become a self-sustaining, national institution providing impartial historical knowledge in order to build public confidence in the way decisions are taken and create better policy-making that benefits everyone.'


What is Berridge's account of arguments made in the History Manifesto?

(Give a broad overview of the whole book.)

(Berridge, 'Review' (2015)


- There was a golden age from 19th C to 1970s where history played a role in policy making
- reformers in social and welfare policy such as the Webbs, the Hammonds and Tawney, used history centrally as part of their analysis.
- In France the work of Braudel and the Annales school introduced the concept of the longue duree as the unifier of the social sciences, a subject with key influence through networks in French higher education policy.
- Throughout the 197os and 80s, the work of E.J. Hobsbawm offered a view of long term political change as a set of precedents for the future.
---> In the post colonial world, in international development, institutions looked to the past to provide a roadmap for the future.


- Focus on ‘short past’ brought these focuses to an end
- More on micro/local histories
- Decline of Economic History, rise of Social and Cultural History


- New revival of long-term history
- Historians must pioneer use of the internet in the ‘Digital Turn’


History in crisis: Evidence of lack of policy engagement for history

In October 2013 the report Now for the Long Term prepared by a panel headed by a former Director General of the World Trade Organisation focussed on the increasing short-termism of modern politics and a consequent inability to address the challenges which will shape the future.



What Criticisms does Berridge make of The History Manifesto?

- Authors do not take a cautious view of using digital sources (‘digital sources close down options and encourage easy overuse of particular collections, which have their own biases’)
- Much research in this area is focused on America. More focus needs to be given elsewhere

- authors’ argument for history being a social science
- Agrees that history can be unifying
However, is critical of authors for not suggesting how history can influence policy

- long term trends and statistics do convince policy makers in the long term
- A combination of the new longue duree history and micro history, with carefully assessed use of digital possibilities, is needed to curtail short termism.
- Historians need to be bolder in addressing future policy agendas


What criticisms does Andrew Jones make in ‘The limits of synthesis’?


- Though authors should be ‘commended for stoking a renewed debate about how history can help tackle such intractable societal issues as climate change and inequality…the Manifesto itself is very limited in how it suggests historians should respond to these challenges.

- Veneration of a ‘Golden Age’ of longue durée history ignores the fact that changes in the discipline were necessary.

- Ignores need for specialisation: call to synthesise ‘deeply troubling, and somewhat elitist’

- Guldi and Armitage argue that the path to relevance is to engage with policy makers and use data analysis. This is ‘myopic’ (short-sighted) and ignores other means of public engagement, including: historical novels, films, television dramas, and websites.

—> To do so returns us to long-standing debates concerning culture, and the mechanisms by which professional history intersects with broader cultural practices.


The facts: The Commodification of Education

The student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance

Louise Bunce, Amy Baird, and Siân E. Jones.

September 2012: Fees rise from £3000 to £9000 after the Browne Review

2015: Students come under Consumer Rights Act, Number cap removed (cap on number of students permitted to enter university)

Evidence for consumer mindset more anecdotal than empirical, but studies have shown that paying for something leads to a stronger consumer mindset, and students are more career minded in opting for subjects with stronger employment prospects

---> 'A consumer attitude was previously thought to create a shift away from intellectual engagement with the content matter towards doing what is necessary to pass or obtain the desired degree classification (Williams 2013). The current findings provide data to support these concerns...'


How can history help form a national identity?

Bull, 'Is Medieval History Relevant?

The nationalist regime of General Franco in Spain, for example, drew extensively on ideas and images inspired by the Spanish Middle Ages - or, more specifically, a vision of the Spanish Middle Ages seen from the point of view of the Christians rather than the Moors or Jews, and of the Castilians more than the other Christians


Should one only study a 'useful' subject at university?

Quote from Clarke

Counter argument

Bull, 'Is Medieval History Relevant?

Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Education, (2003): I don't mind there being some medievalists around for ornamental purposes, but there's no reason for the state to pay them

Idea that universities full of people studying useless subjects at public's expense is a prejudice easily sold to the public

Intangible benefits: contributes to our values and civilisation

Historians part of the economic structure of the heritage industry

The strength of feeling that the crusades can arouse is remarkable. In 2000, for example, no Jess a figure than Pope John Paul II felt moved to express regret for the harm that Christians in the past had done to others in the name of religion. In 2004 he apologized for the sack of Constantinople by the army of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.


What are the broad arguments made in:

Cox, M., ‘The Uses and Abuses of History: The End of the Cold War and Soviet Collapse’

- little attention paid to how historical memory impacted policy making at the end of the Cold War

- Handling of the collapse of world order can be explained with an understanding of the past

- Looking backwards rather than forwards, policy-makers approached the new dawn with much less enthusiasm and optimism than their public pronouncements seemed to indicate at the time or later.

Several reasons history is useful to policy makers:

history as warning
history to legitimise or delegitimise action
history to make sense with the absence of a contemporary framework


How can the past influence policy makers?

Ernest May (1973)

Cox, M., ‘The Uses and Abuses of History: The End of the Cold War and Soviet Collapse’

Ernest May’s work (May 1973)

suggested that US policy makers always considered the ‘worst case scenario’ in their negotiations with the Russians after 1947 because of their historical memory of the West’s confrontation with the Nazis
appeasement could no longer be counted on
totalitarianism can only be answered with strength


How can the past influence policy makers?


Cox, M., ‘The Uses and Abuses of History: The End of the Cold War and Soviet Collapse’

Fear over the development of Germany as a country in 1989 - would they unify?

- French President Francois Mitterand showed fear of unification
- Other leaders feared a united Germany would mean German expansionism and nuclear/military proliferation

Some fears NOT historical

- Future of nato was in jeopardy
- If Germany unified, Gorbachev may not last long

- Germany’s troubled past, character of people, relationship with its neighbours
- Thatcher strongly opposed unification. She invited Historians to discuss Germany’s past and present state and the conclusions were largely negative

- Collapse of empires is always destabilising
Gibbons, Adam Smith, had written on fall of Roman Empire and how it had plunged Europe into darkness in the 18th century

—> It would of course be going too far to suggest that the Bush administration was determined in its policy towards the USSR by lessons drawn from the fate that befell other imperial formations in the past. Still, these lessons were there to be learned, and what they suggested was that one needed to be extremely cautious when it came to tampering with structures of extended power


The draw of the past

George Bowling

Bloodworth, J., From Corbyn to Trump: Welcome to the politics of nostalgia’

George Bowling in Coming Up for Air: he mattered in the past, but now doesn’t, so escapes to it

--> Rather than a struggle between future and past, this is an attempt to revive a past and ‘impose it on the present in the manner of a square object driven into a round hole’


Examples of the Politics of Nostalgia today

Trump: Make america great *again*
50% of supporters is aged 45-64

Election of Corbyn
Nationalisation, ‘the red flag’
Average age of labour member after May 2015 is 51

Grammar School revival

Blackpool and BREXIT
Deprived town
Large tourism industry that taps into by-gone age
The pier
Voted 67.5% for a brexit

—> When the present is so unremittingly grim for so many, it's hardly a surprise that people want to ensconce themselves in the warm penumbra of the past.


The Politics of Nostalgia: Brexit

Green, E., How Brexiteers appealed to voters’ nostalgia

A nostalgia which invoked memories of a past where Britain ‘took control’ appealed to:

- imperialist nostalgists
-1973, Uk still had smaller colonies (Belize, Hong Kong)
- 1975 Referendum, Enoch Powell “Rivers of Blood” speech, ambitions to become viceroy of India
- “No” Campaigners in ’75 argued UK should focus on links to commonwealth, not Europe

Concept of past ‘golden age’
- Many look back to WW2 and victory over the nazis
- UK could ‘go it alone’ in WW2, and can today
older voters.
- Age ‘one of the most important correlates of voting for Leave’
--> Brexit gave older voters the chance to ‘return to the UK of yesteryear’


History and the Politics of Nostalgia
Marcos Piason Natali

What are the preconditions for a criticism of nostalgia? Is historical analysis essential for a criticism of nostalgia?

Nostalgia...is faulted for its
inaccuracy and is accused of promoting views of the past that are empirically


For the term nostalgic to be used
as critique, as it so often has been in modern thought, certain conventions have to
be in place:

It is because of the twin beliefs in the promise of the future and the irreversibility of time that nostalgia can be seen as harmful to an individual’s wellbeing and to a collectivity’s welfare.

- It is only if history is understood as necessarily emancipatory, progressive, and rationally comprehensible that affect for the
past can be immediately condemned as an irrational obstacle hindering the pursuit
of social justice; it is only if the past is thought of as forever lost and death is seen
as final that a desire for repetition can be seen as unrealistic.


Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

Key ideas

'in straitened times British citizens are being asked to make do, to accept the rolling back of state provision and to modify their expectations of a civil society on the basis of historical myths as well as current realities'

- British televised national events such as the Royal Wedding and the Diamond Jubilee
have been deployed to conjure up wartime fortitude and a nostalgic community

- when cyclist Bradley Wiggins stepped forward to ring the bell at the start of the Opening Ceremony the BBC commentator
urged him to ‘keep calm and carry on’

[The Ceremony] provided a space for a counter-austerity discourse that invited viewers to query prevailing political messages.


Ian Birrell, Daily Mail review of the Olympic Opening Ceremony

- Danny Boyle's celebration of the NHS does not align with reality

- NHS ranking World Health Organisation ranked countries’ health systems, Britain came in below Greece, Malta, Oman and Portugal

- Anecdotal evidence of mistreatment of his own children and others'


The creators of the Olympic Opening Ceremony: important background information

Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce.

The two men’s professional credentials were many and varied although they also
shared an Irish Catholic heritage, working-class sympathies and a collaborative
professional relationship.

Boyle is best known for the post-class, post-realist films Trainspotting
(1996) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which dealt innovatively with characters
living severely impoverished lives at the edge of civil society.

Boyce is a film-writer, a former critic for Living Marxism, a novelist and quondam writer for several well-loved British soap


The Olympic Ceremony as Social History

Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

It was... a depiction of history mostly from the perspective of ordinary people. It was, to
borrow a phrase from Patrick Wright (1985: 5), a fair attempt at ‘a vernacular
and informal history’.

It was also a conspicuously multicultural event with no concession made towards
the historical realism often seen in British costume drama which routinely
excludes black actors.

As Jerome de Groot (2009) explains in his book Consuming History, historical re-enactment, at the very least, suggests a democratizing or progressive relationship to history


The Olympic Opening Ceremony as Historical Reenactment

Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

Evidently, the sequences fused fiction, surrealist imagery, historical references
and historical storytelling

This participation of numerous volunteers signalled too the status of the show as a kind of grand-scale historical re-enactment.

As Jerome de Groot (2009) explains in his book Consuming History, historical re-enactment, at the very least, suggests a democratizing or progressive relationship to history


The Olympic Opening Ceremony as a defence of the arts

Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

MP Tristram Hunt remarking that it
could be said that ‘while the right has won the economic arguments, the left
took victory in the “culture wars”’

‘Isles of Wonder’ arguably offered a counter-history and a counter-argument;
one which reminded British audiences as citizens and social actors why the
public sector (the supported arts, welfare, health and perhaps even public service
television) should be valued and defended and why social enfranchisement
mattered. In contrast to the political and media references to the modern midcentury
that advocated stoicism and compliance, this living historical patchwork invoked a more dynamic and assertive interpretation of the past and its application
to the present crisis.


The Opening Ceremony as a challenge to established narratives

Biressi, Nunn, 'The London 2012 Olympic
Games Opening Ceremony:
History answers back'

Above all they made
space to pursue a qualitatively and politically different kind of public remembering;
a remembering which answers back to official history and the ways it
is deployed to understand and manage the inequalities, economic strategies
and the constraints of the social present.


What has the modern education done to our historical consciousness?

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History (London, 2005), Chapter 1: The Past is Dead

Age of immediacy and change
Old knowledge ‘sinks’
Education prizes relevant topics and skills
—> loss of historical consciousness


Can the media hinder as well as promote History?

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History (London, 2005), Chapter 1: The Past is Dead

David Marc's The Bonfire of the Humanities has specifically blamed the spread of mass media like television for contemporary society’s stunning problems of shrinking attention span and lack of historical consciousness’


Case study: The Textbook Wars

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History (London, 2005), Chapter 1: The Past is Dead

*The Textbook Wars and the Historiography of Oblivion*
- 1996, nationalist Japanese academics for the Society for History Textbook Reform
Critical of critical histories of Japan, especially of the denouncing of sexual abuse of women in Japanese ‘comfort stations’
- Not unlike holocaust revisionism
--> New History Textbook
- Mythical accounts of heroic deeds of emperors
- Positive view of Japanese colonisation of parts of Asia
- Minimal coverage of oppressive pre-war/ wartime regime

-----> How do you reject positivist narrative w/o suggesting an alternative, ‘authoritative’ narrative (that is itself posivitist)

Textbook debate ignores other mediums for engaging with History:

'In a multimedia age, then, it becomes especially important, not simply to produce better history textbooks, but to encourage students to understand how the visions of the past which they encounter in popular media are moulded by the nature of the media themselves.'


Gove on the purpose of teaching of History

The first task of the curriculum, as Gove and Schama see it, is to foster a sense of British national identity.
‘At a moment fraught with the possibility of social and cultural division,’ Schama writes, we need citizens ‘who grow up with a sense of our shared memory as a living, urgently present body of knowledge’.
The current curriculum, its critics say, focuses too much on transmitting skills and not enough on teaching facts.
According to the Sunday Times, Gove has said that ‘he wants school history teaching to place far more emphasis on factual knowledge, including the lives of kings and queens.’


What are the stated aims of the national curriculum?

National Curriculum aims:
a grasp of chronology, a ‘knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past’,
basic principles of historical interpretation and inquiry,
elementary skills of communication, ‘
learn about the social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity


What, according to Richard Evans, are the problems with the way History is being taught in schools

Richard J. Evans, ‘The Wonderfulness of Us: the Tory Interpretation of Whig History’, London Review of Books, Vol. 33, No. 6 (2011), pp. 9-12. [online]

The real problem is not with the curriculum’s content, but with the schools’ failure to deliver it, as history is taught all too frequently as part of ‘humanities’ or ‘general studies’ by teachers with no training in the subject

He was critical of Simon Schama‘s appointment: ―But what makes good TV doesn‘t necessarily make for good teaching. A return to narrative in the classroom—to passive consumption instead of active critical engagement—is more likely to be a recipe for boredom and disaffection‖.

The present curriculum for children from five to 14 offers an image of Britishness that pays at least some attention to the multiethnic composition of British society. Its critics want to replace this with a narrowly nationalistic identity built on myths about the ‘British’ past, as if there was such a thing before the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707

source-criticism teaches students not to accept passively every fact and argument they are presented with
Better History declares that ‘it is by the acquisition and use of historical knowledge that historians are primarily judged’ – but in reality that only makes a Mastermind contestant.
--> It is possible to teach actual skills only if history is taught in depth, and that means a focus on a limited number of specialised topics.

- Gove, Schama and their allies are confusing history with memory. History is a critical academic discipline whose aims include precisely the interrogation of memory and the myths it generates


The History Wars: What positions have been articulated?

traditionalism: history lessons about dissemination of an agreed body of knowledge that encouraged patriotism and national cohesion

revisionism: more focus on skills than knowledge


Why is a single, 'national' narrative no longer attainable

Terry Haydn

Dr Andrew Mycock, Dr Catherine McGlynn, Educating the Nation(s): History, Identity and Citizenship after Devolution (2014)

He argued such distortions required the creation of a single narrative that exacerbated the problem that ‘veracity is a forgotten aspect of school history’. In an age where young people were exposed to even more sources of information than ever before, such an aim was completely implausible.


Despite less attention being given to History, why is it still important that care is given to direct and increase that attention?

Joke van der Leeuw-Roord, the executive director of Euroclio (the European Association of History Educators)

Dr Andrew Mycock, Dr Catherine McGlynn, Educating the Nation(s): History, Identity and Citizenship after Devolution (2014)

Joke van der Leeuw-Roord, the executive director of Euroclio (the European Association of History Educators)
put UK-based discussions into a global context.

She noted that emotional attachment to history teaching, and concern about its content and purpose, was being articulated in public debate in numerous countries. This was despite (or because of) the reduction of time given over in the school day to history and the danger of its irrelevance in countries where it was no longer formally tested.


Historical Association of England: Survey of Teachers 2016

Key findings - good news?

In 2009 survey, fears that at KS3 more focus was being given to competencies than content. That fear is now reduced

Grammar/Independents teaching history as distinct subject over schools with socioeconomically disadvantaged children

dramatic increase, since 2011, in the proportions of schools teaching history as a distinct subject in its own right (see
Figure 3) and a process of stabilisation in terms of the time allocated to the subject at Key Stage 3

More people taking GCSE history


'Golden Age' of History and Policy

Gary McCulloch, ‘Privatising the Past? History and Education Policy in the 1990s’, British Journal of Education Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (1997), pp. 69-82.

During this period, then, roughly from the 1920s until the 1950s, a public history was incorporated and ingrained in state
policy, validated by it and contributing actively towards it. This public history consisted of partial, selective, and often simplistic renderings of historical change designed for contemporary policy purposes. Its significance was often strongly contested among competing groups and ideologies, for example over the historical development of 'liberal' and 'vocational' approaches to education and the role of social class, but it helped to form the basis of widely shared collective values about the nature of education and of the further development of the education system


The 'Private Past' and policy making

Gary McCulloch, ‘Privatising the Past? History and Education Policy in the 1990s’, British Journal of Education Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (1997), pp. 69-82.

A fundamental shift in the relationship between history and policy is exhibited in the emergence of the personal self or private past as a version of historical awareness in the 1980s and 1990s. In this 'historical map', the politician or policy-maker derives lessons drawn from an interpretation of their own past, often from their own schooling or family history, or from the experiences and attitudes acquired by their contemporaries:

Lord Callaghan, the former PM: I have always been a convinced believer in the importance of education, as throughout my life I had seen how many doors it could unlock for working-class children who had begun with few other advantages, and I regretted my own lack of a university education 1987

--> Much of this kind of approach reflects a nostalgia for an idealised 'Golden Age', remote from the machinations of the 'education establishment', but vivid in the memories of educational reformers

As in the earlier part of the century, then, education policies in the 1980s and 1990s continued to incorporate images of the histor-
ical past. The nature of these historical images, however, had funda- mentally changed. From being safe, domesticated, and progressive, images of the public past had become threatening, estranged, and regressive. Rather than being mainly a source of stability, they were more often a source of dissension. Increasingly, they gave rise to a
disjunction between the idealised personal experiences or myths of the consumers of education, and the collective history of the
'producers'. The experience of what Thatcher called 'people like me' was estranged from the failures and disappointments of the
public past. A nationalised public past, so potent in the 1940s, had undergone privatisation


What does Cox see as the solution to the crisis of the humanities?

Pamela Cox, ‘The Future Uses of History’, History Workshop Journal, Vol. 75 (2013), pp. 125-145.

Policy making

I suggest ways to create space for a new kind of critical public history along with a more urgent kind of ‘post-cultural history’. This space might also allow historians to (re)build their role as enlightened sceptics in the knowledge economy.


What role can History play in evidence-based-policy making?

What problems does this approach bring?

Pamela Cox, ‘The Future Uses of History’, History Workshop Journal, Vol. 75 (2013), pp. 125-145.

Evidence Based Policy Making (EBPM): what kinds of social issues require policy intervention, what forms that intervention should take and how its impacts should be evaluated.

- Ricahrd Neustadt, Ernast May, Thinking in Time: the Uses of History for DecisionMakers
Lecture series delivered at harvard, addressed ‘to those who govern – or hope to do so’ argued that impact of history would vary with time, but that any improvement in the history-policy relationship was worth seeking

- Cox takes a pessimistic view: research ‘ignored, manipulated and exaggerated [and] rarely presented in a form that fits a given brief

- ‘[e]valuation research is cursed with ‘short-termism’ - Pawson, Tilley

—> historians need to package their partial truths in ways that facilitate, rather than prohibit, further dialogue with policy-makers


Case Study: EBPM

Youth Justice: Promoting Child Rights in East Asia

Pamela Cox, ‘The Future Uses of History’, History Workshop Journal, Vol. 75 (2013), pp. 125-145.

Cox (author) worked as a consultant on the project and conducted mid-term evaluation of immediate/long term impact
*****project did not actively seek historical consultancy*****

1) Since the 1980s Vietnam has undergone rapid processes of industrialization, urbanization and marketization and experienced huge demographic and social changes: the country has an estimated 21,000 street children.

2) draconian measures are also applied, however, and these bear striking similarity to measures taken by Western governments against their own migrant poor in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

3) Vietnam’s reform schools are close to a breaking point which has been experienced by many of their Western counterparts in the past. Evidence from many historical studies of similar schools strongly suggests that their public utility is short-lived – in the Western European case, it lasted from the 1840s to the 1940s.

—> To historians, these are very familiar patterns and I was keen that they should be part of the evidence base for this particular project. I used this pattern to argue that the project aims should be substantially modified.
---> Schools unlikely to 'work'


How is history employed by policy makers to justify a position?

Virginia Berridge, 'History Matters: History's Role in Health Policy Making', Medical History, Vol. 52 (2008).

History invoked to support/legitimise/elucidate a position

- Alan Millburne, 2002, in debate on NHS: ‘The NHS provides what some call the security - what Nye Bevan called the “serenity” …’

- Tony Blair, 2006 speech on health living, extensive historical research

Expert committees

- ‘our advice was founded on an analysis of what had gone wrong in the handling of X - there was a reference to the past and a learning from the past’
- ‘We talk about recent history a great deal…we’re always thinking about those things.There are people who’ve lived through it.’


What problems do Historians face in trying to influence policy making?

In what ways is the use of History in policy making exclusive?



1) Multiple interpretations of Historians not easily assimilated

2) Time frames: History cited from a selective time frame, ignoring potentially valuable material

3) Short termism of project managers

- What the interviews revealed was that history was being used but mostly without historians being involved: danger of these non-experts becoming 'first port of call'

Those involved were:
1. those with close existing connections to policy
2. Those who knew the policy scene
3. Those with a media profile

- Use personal networks to strengthen history-policy link: to show that policy makers need history, and historians are doing work that may be of use to policy makers
- History as analysis offers great insight, interpretative richness and a sophisticated understanding of the past. For the lack of these, current policy is poorer.


Argument by process

Applied history and policy making

John Tosh, ‘In defence of applied history: History and Policy Website’, Policy Papers, History and Policy Website (2006), http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/in-defence-of-applied-history-the-history-and-policy-website

Argument by Process
- Some papers track the development of recent policy over time
- Has the most immediate practical application

*Critiquing the New*
- Historians taking a longer view hope to demonstrate that few things are truly ‘new’ and we can seek guidance from the past
US post-911 intelligence was based on contemporary terrorist groups like the IRA, but there’s a much longer history of terrorism that was more relevant

- time span is too short to explain the present
- According to Ilan Pappe, American policy towards Palestine discounts any history before the Six Day War. But for the Palestinians the defining moment in modern history is not 1967, but 1948, when 250,000 Palestinians were expelled from Israel.


A case study of History and Policy Engagement: dolly jorgensen

- Speaks to the Swedish Parliament as an Environmental Historian on the topic of History for a Sustainable Future
- Asserts that Historians are the most qualified individuals to study change over time
- States that some changes occur slowly, too slowly to be noticed in a lifetime. These changes affect our lives and historians can track them
- If we are truly going to work toward a sustainable future for humanity, then we have to know where we are in the present – where we are working from. To really know where we are, we must know where we’ve been and how we got to this place.
-Emphasises that social responsibility was a key part of waste disposal in 16th century Stockholm, unlike now when we are separate and unaware of our waste. This long view can help policy makers draft new proposals for a more sustainable future


A case study of History and Policy Engagement: dolly jorgensen

- Speaks to the Swedish Parliament as an Environmental Historian on the topic of History for a Sustainable Future
- Asserts that Historians are the most qualified individuals to study change over time
- States that some changes occur slowly, too slowly to be noticed in a lifetime. These changes affect our lives and historians can track them
- If we are truly going to work toward a sustainable future for humanity, then we have to know where we are in the present – where we are working from. To really know where we are, we must know where we’ve been and how we got to this place.

-Emphasises that social responsibility was a key part of waste disposal in 16th century Stockholm, unlike now when we are separate and unaware of our waste- 'You cannot really be responsible to something you don’t understand' - This long view can help policy makers draft new proposals for a more sustainable future


Hunt/Mandler, review of the History Manifesto

They fault The History Manifesto for being
a book written in panic, for dismissing the value of other disciplines in informing policy, and, worst of all, for getting its own history wrong.

Making use of computational tools themselves, Cohen and Mandler posit that (American) histories written after the 1960s have on average covered longer time periods than ever before; further, historians frequently produced microhistories
before the rise of the so-called Short Past.

They also critique Guldi and Armitage for
naively equating history that is long with history that is significant and for narrowing the publicrole of the historian to that of policy advisor.

Historians, they argue, operate in many public theaters—such as classrooms, media, and museums—and have been quite successful in doing so over the last fifty years.

By portraying these achievements as largely irrelevant, Guldi and Armitage run the risk of actually contributing to the decline of the humanities they wish to save.


What are the essential points of The History Manifesto?

Summary of The History Manifesto
Noortje Jacobs

- Crisis of short termism
- Crisis in the universities, and of the humanities
- Need for a more optimistic view of agency and the future
- Advancement of micro history has been to the detriment of the longue dureée
- Computational 'big data' to visualise historical analysis
- History needs to take on a more prominent, public and accessible role:
---> The discipline has to rethink its perspectives, intended audiences, and tools in order to fulfill its traditionally public role and responsibilities. And thus The History Manifesto ends with a call to action as optimistic and ominous as its principal message: “Historians of the
world, unite! There is a world to win—before it’s too late”


History and Policy Case Study: Helen McCarthy

Although she enjoyed her work at Demos, she found that the short timescales for writing reports and the heavy emphasis on strategic, political or presentational issues were an obstacle to the deep, reflective and historical thinking

'Thinktanks tend to focus on the communication and presentation of issues and how they might win political support, whereas my historical training at Cambridge had taught me the importance of exploring the substance of an issue from first principles and with scholarly rigour.'

Her policy engagement began when she was working on her second book, on women and diplomacy. She wrote to Sir Peter Ricketts, then Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office (FCO), to make them aware of her work on women diplomats. She also hoped the FCO could provide introductions to former diplomats she could interview for her research. Ricketts put her in touch with the Foreign Office historians, who provide a long-term, policy-relevant perspective on international issues

McCarthy was invited to give a seminar on her research at the FCO:
'Many of those attending, including the then head of the Human Resources Directorate, told me they found the seminar interesting and relevant. Most FCO staff are so focussed on day-to-day business and short-term deadlines that they don’t have time or space to reflect on the bigger picture of change and continuity over time.


but I don’t know if it changed policy in any way. Assessing the ‘impact’ of my work on policy makers remains a challenge.'


Patrick Geary, The Myth of Nations (2002):

How can history help from a national identity?

- the medieval past is excellent terrain for groups seeking to ground their political or ethnic ambitions in some sort of supposed
- the Middle Ages represent a large enough historical field to offer something for anyone prepared to look hard enough; they are sufficiently distant in time to give modern-day claims rooted in them the authority and prestige of antiquity


Kissinger on 'The Meaning of History' in 'World Order'

I know now that history's meaning is a matter to be discovered, not declared. It is a question that we must attempt to answer as best we can in recognition that it must remain open for debate; that each generation will be judged by whether the greatest, most consequential issues of the human condition have been faced, and the decisions to meet these challenges must be taken by statesmen before it is possible to know what the outcomes may be.


Debate on 20 October: Teaching of History
in Schools This Library Note provides background reading for the debate to be held on Thursday 20 October:

“To call attention to the teaching of history
in schools”


In recent years, history as a discipline has come under attack

Overview of 'History in Crisis?' and 'Uses of History?'


John Tosh, Why History Matters

John Tosh, writing on the various uses of history, sought to highlight its educational

… it trains the mind, enlarges the sympathies and provides a much-needed historical perspective on some of the most pressing problems of our time.11

More recently, Tosh has argued that a deficit in historical understanding amongst society generally can have negative consequences:

Time and again, complex policy issues are placed before the public without adequate explanation of how they have come to assume their present shape, and without any hint of the possibilities which are disclosed by the record of the past.… But on many of the topics to which historical perspective can profitably be applied the problem is not the tenacity of myth but the lack of any relevant
knowledge at all.12§



In March 2011, OFSTED published a report on school history, History for All, which presented a mixed picture. In terms of primary schools: History teaching was good or better in most primary school

… However, some pupils found it difficult to place the historical episodes they had
studied within any coherent, long-term narrative.

decisions about curriculum structures within schools have placed constraints on history, and other foundation subjects, at Key Stage 3. In 14 of the 58 secondary schools visited between 2008 and 2010, whole-school curriculum changes were having a negative impact on teaching and learning in history at Key Stage 3.


Tristram Hunt: Without History, we have no future

Tristam Hunt, writing in the Guardian, reflected on what such surveys might mean: Our national story is being privatised, with 48 percent of independent pupils
taking the subject compared with 30 percent of state school entrants. And academy schools, so admired by government ministers, are among the worst


Financial Times, ‗Too much Hitler and the Henrys: What‘s Wrong with the Teaching of History
in Britain?‘, 10 April 2010

According to 2006 exam data, 51 percent of GCSE candidates and a staggering80 percent of A-level candidates study the history of the Third Reich. As someone who wrote his DPhil thesis on inter-war Germany, I yield to no one in my respect for the historiography of Adolf Hitler‘s rise and fall. But there can be no justification for this excessive focus on the history of a single European country over a period of just a dozen years.


Argument by Analogy

John Tosh, ‘In defence of applied history: History and Policy Website’, Policy Papers, History and Policy Website (2006

*Arguing by Analogy*
- Leap-frogging in quest of a parallel is the antithesis of the sequential or processual mode. (jumping from historical event to event in search of an analogy suitable for contemporary comparison is wrong. It takes the event in isolation and is a selective use of the evidence
What makes the History and Policy website unusual is the number of papers which practise some form of analogical reasoning.

*An Evaluation of the Analogical Mode*

denies the ‘unique character of every succeeding age’
In History and Policy, the ‘otherness’ of the past is respected

Contributors are not claiming that their chosen slice of history is a perfect guide for the present. What they are urging is that we enlarge our sense of possibilities by reclaiming some of the richness of past experience.
an analogy tending to one argument can be countered with one tending to another

useless if one intends to close a debate, but useful if one wishes to open up discussion

The idea that drawing analogies is a matter of arbitrarily selecting what will suit one's drift from a bewildering range derives from the world of foreign policy, where too much can easily be read into a particular precedent like Munich or Suez.

the contributors to History & Policy deal not with single events but usually with an entire tradition - a mode of thought or practice with a proven track record over time. That makes the selection much less arbitrary and less susceptible to politically-charged selectivity.


The Imagined Past: History and Nostalgia
edited by Christopher Shaw, Malcolm Chase

They traded comfortable and conveniently reassuring images of the past, and thereby repressed both its variety and negative aspects

Nostalgia as utopia, a better place

'English cultural nationalism'?