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intellectual history



  • What's Really New about the "New" American Right?

    by John Ganz

    There's something familiar about a secular nationalist movement that mobilizes property owners through a narrative of national decline and the promise of controlling or purging enemies of a unified people through force, recently described in a Times op-ed. If only there were a word for it....



  • The Asian-Canadian Gay Pioneer Theorist of Sexuality

    by Laurie Marhoefer

    Li Shiu Tong, the partner of better-known German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, was an important theorist and activist whose once-lost writings anticipated today's politics of gay rights and liberation. 



  • How History Came to Matter

    by Steve Mintz

    Academic historians' worthy insistence on cultivating expertise and methodological rigor can't come at the expense of working to alter public understanding of the past now that the stakes of that understanding are so high. 



  • Midge Decter: An Overlooked Intellectual Forerunner of Trumpism

    by Ronnie Grinberg

    By connecting social turmoil to the decline of traditional family and gender roles even before Roe or the rise of second-wave feminism, Midge Decter created a foundation for the politics of family values. 



  • The Democratic Potential of China's Grassroots Intellectuals

    by Sebastian Veg

    Chinese intellectuals working outside the protection of state-controlled universites have a perilous existence, but carry on the struggle against the regime's efforts to impose orthodoxy on the nation's history. 



  • The Intellectual History of the Black "New South"

    by Robert Greene II

    A new generation of African American thinkers is examining whether the South is the place where Black advancement can best be achieved. Intellectual history warns that myths of a "New South" have come and gone before, undermined by their inattention to power. 



  • On Gates and Curran's "Who's Black and Why"

    by John Samuel Harpham

    "Like all ideas, race has a history. There was a time before it. In turn conceptions of it have shifted over time, and it has been charged with different meanings in different settings." Gates and Curran have identified a little-studied collection of 1739 essays on race that mark a key shift in the idea.



  • We're Talking about Climate Change with Outdated Colonial Language

    by Priya Satia

    The dominant climate activist theme of sacrificing in the present to protect the future is rooted in the intellectual history of economics which has driven the profligate consumption and gross inequality that threatens the planet. 



  • Bad Economics

    by Simon Torracinta

    A historian of science reviews three books on the history of economic thought, which support the conclusion that the ideas animating the mainstream of the discipline and enabling it to dominate discussions of policy are badly in need of reexamination. 


  • The Revolution Whisperer

    by Greg Shaw

    The author hoped to write a biography of William Small, the Scottish polymath whose mentorship linked the political revolution of Thomas Jefferson and the industrial one of James Watt. Learning that another researcher had beaten him to the punch didn't diminish the author's admiration for the story in the least. 



  • "The Last Refuge of Scoundrels": E.O. Wilson's Support for Scientific Racism

    by Stacy Farina and Matthew Gibbons

    Evolutionary biology has long been used to promote the ideology that "races" are real and meaningful divisions of the human species. A recent controversy about a recently-deceased leader in the field shows that there is more work to be done to ensure that science no longer lends credibility to racism. 



  • How Willmoore Kendall Invented Trumpism

    by Jacob Heilbrunn

    Christopher Owens's biography places Willmoore Kendall in the first rank of postwar conservative intellectuals and identifies him with the fusion of populism and traditionalism associated with the Trumpist right and the burgeoning "national conservative" movements.



  • What "Structural Racism" Means

    by Jamelle Bouie

    The writings of Oliver Cromwell Cox challenged the midcentury liberal conception of racism as a caste problem by linking it to capitalist exploitation and material inequality. He profoundly influenced Martin Luther King Jr.'s social critique and offers a way out of the dead end of "wokeness" and "identity politics."



  • Lawrence Reddick and the Communal Acts of Black History

    by Stephen G. Hall

    "Rather than being ensconced in the ivory tower, Reddick’s life and work demonstrates that far from distortion, dilution or politicization, Black history’s communal nature has made it the most dynamic, engaged, and visionary project in the academy."



  • The Lost Promise of Black Study

    by Andrew J. Douglas and Jared Loggins

    Atlanta's Institute of the Black World struggled to negotiate its mission to theorize and document Black oppression and resistance without being captured or controlled by outside institutions, including the established historically Black colleges in Atlanta. Its history raises difficult and important questions about the relationship of universities and freedom today.



  • Intellectual History as a Game of Password

    by L.D. Burnett

    "Do you have any idea how many works of history written since the 18th century use the word 'civilization' as if it were a natural category of thought not only for us but also for all who came before us?"