• Ilja Nieuwland

    “Think only of the 1970s when a great many prominent historians used social theory – and an awful lot of graphs – to free the working classes from the yoke of capitalism or support any other noble left-wing cause.”

    Oh, and a fat lot of good that did. If I wanted to use one textbook example of why historians need to keep away from current affairs, this may be it. In fact, I think a sizeable portion of the current crisis of the humanities can be traced back to the early 1970s love affair with ideological scholastics – intellectually, socially and financially.

    My point was that as historians we have a core professional responsibility (and one that is also relevant to society) that we can only undermine by muddying it with personal participation in the very themes we investigate. To me, that responsibility is an important one, and it does not mean that we remain in the shadows – quite the contrary, in fact.