Author Archives: Kenneth Pomeranz

Controversy Continues at the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library houses one of the great research collections in the world – especially, though certainly not exclusively, for historians. And as a public library, it has long been open to anyone.

Climate, Politics, and History: What Can the 1600s Teach Us?

In “The Inevitable Climate Catastrophe,” Geoffrey Parker reminds us of how human history is linked to natural history, and of some historical dimensions of the hugely important contemporary debates about climate change. But if the title of his piece stresses inevitability, he also has another, perhaps more historical, message: “it took human stupidity to turn [the 17th-century climate] crisis into catastrophe.” Better choices were available; at least one large-scale society (Japan) made them, and had a comparatively benign century.

Perspectives on History, April

Why History? A Note on the AHA Tuning Project

If you are at a university, the April issue of Perspectives on History probably arrived together with finals or midterms. Your time is even more precious than usual, and general reading is probably not your first priority. But I would strongly encourage you to make time for the forum on the AHA’s Tuning project—even, or perhaps especially, if you are skeptical of the effort.

Like it or not, we face increasingly intense pressures to explain what benefit there is in studying history, either for the student or for society.

AHA Supports Visas for Cuban Scholars to Attend LASA Conference

The following letter was submitted to the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, in support to facilitate visas for Cuban scholars to attend the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I write on behalf of the American Historical Association (AHA) to request your support to facilitate visas for Cuban scholars who have been invited to participate in the XXXI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association to be held May 29 to June 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C.


How the “bosses’-eye view” of History is Capturing National Headlines

Sunday’s New York Times has a story on the growing numbers of courses and research projects on the history of capitalism. The article highlights the creativity of a number of historians who have been looking at financiers, industrialists, and other important economic decision makers, with tools that include, but go beyond, economics.

These scholars use the methods of social and cultural history to understand the worlds in which their subjects operated, and the ways in which they changed the everyday lives of millions.


What’s in the History Survey? A Roundup of Reactions to the NAS Report

The discussion that follows is important to all historians: whether or not you teach U.S. history (or teach at all, for that matter), or work for a public institution, in Texas or elsewhere.  This is not because the NAS report from which it springs is particularly compelling. Like many of the participants in this discussion, I found the report to have serious methodological problems. It looked only at assigned readings, not at classes as a whole; it ignored the very significant institutional support that the Univ.