History Is Always About Politics

What the recent debates over presentism get wrong.

By Joan Wallach Scott, Professor Emerita in the School of Social Science:

"In his recent essay in these pages on the vexed question of 'presentism' in the discipline of history, David Bell offers a soothing alternative to the American Historical Association president James Sweet’s clumsy dismissal of 'presentism' as a deviation from the true path of historical scholarship. But Bell misses the real problem we face in this moment of unprecedented attacks on the teaching of history, largely from the right. While we can all cite disturbing examples of students and faculty on the left seeking to censor what can be taught or even spoken, the concerted attacks from the right — in the ultimate form of state laws prohibiting the teaching of so-called critical race theory, the 1619 Project, gender and sexuality, and other topics — are much more dangerous to academic freedom in general and to the practice of history in particular."

Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education.