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Current Events in Historical Context


United States

In a Guardian op-ed, AHA member Michelle Moyd and her co-authors Jennifer Evans and Yuliya Komska discuss the importance of historical controversies when it comes to the revival of democratic values. Pointing to the Historikerstreit as an example, an intellectual controversy that arose after the publishing of historian Ernst Nolte’s 1986 article “The Past That Will Not Pass,” Moyd, Evans, and Komska argue that, until very recently, the US has lacked the kind of status-quo-challenging academic that Nolte provided to Germany. This in turn has resulted in a lack of “a shared public memory or narrative about the past.” However, the authors argue that recent political controversies, facilitated in large part by social media, offer historians a chance to revive the culture of debate. “The US variant of the historian’s controversy and the widened public sphere that it brings about must recognize the productive potential of everyday history-makers,” they write. “It must not just tap into it but fully harness it to seed a history that all Americans will want to fight over and for.”