The “Woke History” Wars

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James Sweet, a professor of African history and the former president of the American Historical Association, wrote an essay last year that sparked a significant clash in the world of academia about the role of politics in history and vice versa. He argued that historians have become compromised by politics—that they begin not with the evidence but with the contemporary social-justice concern that they want to speak to, in order to go viral on Twitter. This discussion may seem niche, but it is in dialogue with a national one as politicians such as Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, vow to remove all traces of “wokeness” from school curricula and exert control over how history is understood. Emma Green joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss her piece “The Right Side of History,” about Sweet’s essay and how historians should respond to the current political moment.

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