One of the missions of Perspectives on History, and the AHA, is to bring history more fully, and more responsibly, into public discussions. We believe that there are very few, if any, topics that would not benefit from some historical context; our AHA Roundtables, a series that has appeared in the online version of Perspectives, has asked historians to weigh in on Supreme Court decisions, election-year presidential debates, and higher education reform. These forums have proven popular with readers and contributors alike, and we hope to do more of them in the future.
This interest also explains why Shatha Almutawa’s resume caught our attention when we were hiring an associate editor last year. Shatha is a former editor of Sightings, a publication of the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, that does for theology what the AHA Roundtables do for history. In addition to editing articles that commented “on the events, agents, and trends in public life where issues of religion are writ large,” as described on the Sightings website, Shatha wrote columns that lent a historical perspective to the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, anti-Islamic propaganda, and recent revolutions in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, she furthered her study of the history of Judaism, completing her dissertation in 2013 on a medieval secret sect, and then spent a semester teaching at the University of Qatar in Doha. She is bringing to the magazine, and to AHA headquarters, a wealth of experience and a broad perspective.
I’m extremely pleased to see the list of names below Perspectives’ masthead grow. Editing is work that should be as collaborative as possible. The exchange between an author and editor should be based on a shared vision of what the article can be, and that vision is always best defined by an extended dialog, one that can be full of surprises and intellectual stimulation. The magazine works the same way. Each issue, the overall series of issues and the general mission of the magazine are best defined by people with diverse interests that overlap frequently, but not too frequently. It’s because we value collaborative work that Perspectives has an editorial board. But this board meets only once a month, and there’s something happening with Perspectives every single day.
So it is my hope that readers will notice changes in the magazine in the coming months, both in terms of the kind of content and how it is framed, and from the new voice we’ve added prominently to our pool of collaborators.
A version of this article will appear in the March 2014 issue of Perspectives on History.