Letters to the Editor

On "Political History: An Exchange"

Karen Offen, March 2017

To the editor:

Regarding “Political History: An Exchange” (January 2017), my question would be “Why only US political history?” In 2011, I participated in a forum on political history in Perspectives, asserting that “The History of Feminism IS Political History” (May 2011). The forum proposed a more capacious definition of political history.

It seems to me that the more general question about what constitutes political history cannot be restricted to the question of elections and elected officials, which is quite specific to ostensibly democratic societies in very recent times. To be sure, the AHA does represent historians of the United States, but it also represents historians who study many other parts of the world and many earlier time periods; a number of them do address “politics.” My point here is that there are many kinds of “politics” that can be considered in a more comprehensive view of what is understood as political—across time and space. Can we broaden this discussion?

Karen Offen
The Michelle Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Stanford University


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