History in Focus

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History in Focus is a podcast by the American Historical Review.

Go behind the scenes with the world's leading history journal as we explore the who, what, how, and why of doing history in the 21st century. Each month, the latest AHR issue will be the jumping off point for a deeper dive into historical content and practice, highlighting the work of historians and other scholars who work in and outside of the academy. You'll still hear interviews but also more immersive storytelling and off-the-cuff banter as we seek to peel back the curtain on the AHR and the work of history more broadly.

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Recent History in Focus Episodes

1. Follow Your Nose

Daniel talks with AHR editor Mark Bradley about the changes coming to the journal in March, in particular a new section called the AHR History Lab that will showcase collaborative projects that challenge us to rethink how history is done in the 21st century. Then a conversation with contributors to the Odeuropa project, an EU grant funded research endeavor that seeks to excavate, and bring back to life, the smells of Europe's past.

More about this episode.

2. Unlikely Entry Points and Unexpected Dead Ends

This episode explores unlikely ways into research and what can happen when we confront what seems like a dead end. Daniel talks with Judd Kinzley about his article “Wartime Dollars and the Crowning of China’s Hog-Bristle King: The Dubious Legacies of US Aid, 1938–49.” And History Unclassified editor Kate Brown speaks with Jennifer Lambe about her article “Christine Jorgensen in Cuba: On Dormant Leads and Archival Dead Ends.”

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3. From the Reviews Desk, March 2022 Edition

Daniel talks with AHR associate editor Fei-Hsien Wang about the Reviews section of the March 2022 issue, including a cluster of five history podcast reviews and a new column called Authors in Conversation. Shawn McHale and Christopher Goscha kicked off that column with reviews of each other’s recent books on the Indochina War, and they talk here about their work and their experience of trying out this approach to reviewing.

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4. The Blackivists

The Blackivists, a collective of professionally trained Black archivists in Chicago, partner with institutions and community groups to help preserve the city’s Black cultural heritage as well as model reparative approaches to archives and archiving. Daniel talks with Ashley Farmer, who teamed up with the Blackivists to produce the AHR History Lab piece “Toward an Archival Reckoning” for the June 2022 issue. One of the collective—Stacie Williams—joins Ashley to talk about the group’s work. And Adom Getachew checks in to set this project in the context of a larger arc of upcoming Lab entries on the theme of “engaged history.”

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5. Gender and Atlantic Slavery at Global Scale + The Redesign of the AHR

AHR editor Mark Bradley talks with historian Diana Paton about her article “Gender History, Global History, and Atlantic Slavery: On Racial Capitalism and Social Reproduction.” Then, a conversation with Pure+Applied designers Paul Carlos and Urshula Barbour about the AHR’s first major redesign in over 50 years.

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BONUS: Historians and Their Publics

In this special episode, we look at Jacqueline Jones’s AHA Presidential Address, “Historians and Their Publics, Then and Now,” delivered on January 7, 2022, at the AHA annual meeting in New Orleans. You’ll hear an abridged version of the address paired with a conversation between Jones and Mark Bradley about the address. Jacqueline Jones served as president of the American Historical Association in 2021.

More about this episode.

Visit our March 2022 Issue Episodes webpage for all podcast episodes connected to the issue, along with show notes.

Production Team

History in Focus is produced and hosted by Daniel Story, a consulting editor for the AHR and former producer of AHR Interview. Daniel is digital scholarship librarian at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and holds a PhD in history from Indiana University, Bloomington.

The podcast is a production of the American Historical Review in partnership with the American Historical Association and the University Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Other members of the podcast team include:

  • Mark Philip Bradley, editor of the American Historical Review
  • Fei-Hsien Wang, associate editor of the American Historical Review
  • Myles Rider-Alexis, audio engineering assistant
  • Alexandra F. Levy, communications manager at the American Historical Association