Bringing the History Back In

USAbroad – Journal of American History and Politics. Vol. 2 (2019)
ISSN 2611-2752

Bringing the History Back In

Published: 2019-03-01

In 2014, historians Jo Guldi and David Armitage published The History Manifesto, in which the two argued for the need to recover la long durèe in historiographical narratives. In an epoch characterized by “accelerated crisis,” “permanent campaign” and “the ever-present threat of short-termism,” Guldi and Armitage assigned to historical writing the crucial role of encouraging a reversal of presentist trends and hyper-specialisation by privileging long-term analyses, bridging gaps between disciplines and rediscovering the function of history as a discipline that can offer critical and innovative insight in an epoch of social and political turmoil.

Five years have passed since the publication of The History Manifesto, and the goal set by Guldi and Armitage is far from achieved. The column Bringing the History Back in picks up their challenge and sets out to offer a space where scholars have the chance to publish broad and comprehensive articles that aim to give original interpretations of the present from the perspective of the professional historian. We see this space as an open and an intergenerational forum, where senior historians have the opportunity to share their historical analyses in a publication edited by and aimed at early career researchers.

The opening article, Federico Romero’s Globalization’s Nemesis: from Liberal Internationalism to White Nationalism, represents the perfect balance between historical interpretation and analysis of the present. In it, Romero identifies key turning points which help understanding the evolution of international politics from a US perspective. Starting from the end of the containment in the 1970s, Romero traces the transformation of the American role in the international system showing how a world order based on sovereignty has been progressively substituted by another based on market competition. However, as Romero points out, with the rise of China as a world economic power, during Trump’s presidency the United States chose a path of aggressive unilateralism in foreign policy, mainly aimed at damaging China’s growth. Moving away from a 20th century internationalism that promised development as a universal path, the current administration embodies a return to a logic of great-power conflict where nationalism is the matrix of world (dis)order and antagonism.

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