Professional Historians in Public: Old and New Roles Revisited

Edited by Berber Bevernage and Lutz Raphael

The past decades public interest in history is booming. This creates new opportunities but also challenges for professional historians. This book asks how historians deal with changing public demands for history and how these affect their professional practices, values and identities. The volume offers a great variety of detailed studies of cases where historians have applied their expertise outside the academic sphere. With contributions focusing on Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Europe the book has a broad geographical scope.

Subdivided in five sections, the book starts with a critical look back on some historians who broke with mainstream academic positions by combining their professional activities with an explicit political partisanship or social engagement. The second section focusses on the challenges historians are confronted with when entering the court room or more generally exposing their expertise to legal frameworks. The third section focuses on the effects of policy driven demands as well as direct political interventions and regulations on the historical profession. A fourth section looks at the challenges and opportunities related to the rise of new digital media. Finally several authors offer their view on normative standards that may help to better respond to new demands and to define role models for publicly engaged historians.

This book aims at historians and other academics interested in public uses of history.



The Politics of Historical Thinking



1 New Roles for Professional Historians and New Public Uses of the Past

Berber Bevernage and Lutz Raphael

Part One: Histoires Engagées: A Critical Look Back

2 Eric Hobsbawm as a Public Champion of Cosmopolitan Universalism

Stefan Berger

3 Two Sides of Activist Scholarship Within UNESCO’s General History of Africa (1964–1998)

Larissa Schulte Nordholt

4 Colonial Historiography, Hindutva, and the Difficulty of Reading the Ancient Indian Historical Traditions

Kanad Sinha

Part Two: Law and Historical Expertise

5 Challenges of Historical Expert Witnessing in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Elsewhere

Vladimir Petrović

6 The Waitangi Tribunal and the Public Life of History

Bain Attwood

Part Three: Old and New Public Demands on Professional Historians

7 Between Discipline and Profession: Historical Studies and Their Public Relevance in Brazil

Fernando Nicolazzi

8 Policy-Oriented History for the EU: The Rise of a New Type of Professional Practice for Historians?

Marie-Gabrielle Verbergt

9 Indigenous History, Activism, and the Decolonizing University: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Struggle over the Khoisan Past in Post-apartheid South Africa

June Bam and Rafael Verbuyst

Part Four: Public History in New Media

10 Russian Public Historians in the New Media (The Case of Telegram)

Alexandra Kolesnik, Boris Stepanov and Irina Savelieva

11 Practices of Popular Science and Digital Curation in Theory of History on the Portuguese Edition of Wikipedia

Flávia Florentino Varella and Rodrigo Bragio Bonaldo

Part Five: Perspectives: Moral, Epistemic, and Political

12 Historians and Human Rights Advocacy

Antoon De Baets

13 The Politics of Memory and the Task of Historians

Jakob Tanner

14 Languages of Legitimation and the Registers of Legitimate History

Benjamin Zachariah

Biographical Notes

Selected Bibliography on ‘Public Uses of the Past and the Role of Professional Historians in the Public Sphere’


Publisher: De Gruyter Oldenbourg

Copyright year: 2023