The Balance in History

Historians in the News

Europe is down. Asia is up. And some specialties that scholars have feared were disappearing appear to be alive and well.

Those are some of the results available in an analysis by the American Historical Association of its members and their primary fields of interest (by both geography and subject matter). As a popular major and as a key provider of general education courses, the discipline of history is watched for even slight shifts in its focus. (AHA membership does not, of course, include all historians, and the membership is probably less reflective of community colleges, which tend to hire Americanists or generalists. But the membership shifts generally are viewed as consistent with trends in the field.)

Currently the top geographic area of specialization is Europe, with 37.2 percent of historians. That's down from 41.5 percent a decade ago -- a drop of such magnitude that historians of North America are now almost equal, at 36.2 percent. Asian history, at 8 percent, has overtaken Latin American history as the third most popular area of specialization....

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