Publication Date

December 29, 2021

Perspectives Section


Post Type


In November 2021, the AHA advocated for education and research funding and continued its communication with the National Archives and Records Administration regarding NARA’s reopening plans. The AHA also addressed threats to academic freedom both abroad and at home.

AHA Sends Letter Objecting to University of Florida Preventing Faculty Members’ Expert Witness Testimony

On November 3, the AHA sent a letter to President W. Kent Fuchs of the University of Florida stating that it “objects strenuously to [the] decision preventing University of Florida faculty members from testifying in a voting-rights case.” The university’s decision “is contrary to the principle that the state university is a resource upon which public institutions such as the courts can (and should) draw for expertise,” the AHA wrote. “A public university is not a political agent of the state in which it is situated; it is a site of learning and scholarly inquiry in service to the residents of that state.”

AHA Signs On to Letter Urging Department of Education to Prioritize International and Foreign Language Education and Research

On November 5, the AHA signed on to a letter by the Coalition for International Education “urg[ing] the Department of Education to prioritize and strengthen its international and foreign language education and research role under HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays 102(b)(6).” “Our challenges increasingly rely on foreign language abilities, regional knowledge, cultural understanding, and experience abroad,” the letter stated. “Key foreign language, regional studies, international business, research and education abroad infrastructures and capacity must be replenished.”

NARA Responds to Reopening Questions in AHA Letter of August 5, 2021

In August, the AHA wrote to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on behalf of historical researchers seeking clarity about reopening plans. The questions in the letter drew on email communications received by the AHA and other membership organizations.

On November 15, NARA provided responses to the questions posed in the AHA’s letter, as well as a communication to researchers. The AHA is glad to publish these responses as a window into NARA’s reopening process and future plans. We continue to work with our colleagues at NARA to increase communication between archivists and researchers.

AHA Releases Statement on Censorship and Prosecution by Chinese Authorities

On November 17, the AHA released a statement expressing alarm at “news reports that Chinese authorities have escalated the censorship and prosecution of Chinese citizens who deviate from the Communist Party line of hero worship.” “Such efforts strike at the very heart of historical scholarship, which depends on open-ended inquiry and a free exchange of ideas, wherever that inquiry leads, and whether or not those ideas cast aspersions on historical actors,” the AHA stated. “The AHA stands firmly against national laws and policies that in effect criminalize the historical enterprise.” As of December 21, 20 organizations have signed on to the statement.

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Becky West
Rebecca L. West

American Historical Association