Today’s guest post on The Junto, an outstanding group blog on early American history, was written by HAS supporter Nathan Jérémie-Brink. The post offers an overview of Jérémie-Brink’s experiences at our inaugural conference held last weekend.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
It is true that very few historians today would endorse John C. Calhoun’s opinion that slavery was in history or is now “a positive good.” Even so, historians rarely consider the valuable role that our research, and our teaching may play in present-day antislavery movements. The fear of presentism remains an obstacle to the historian’s meaningful involvement in modern-day activism. Certainly, historians must avoid anachronistic descriptions of slavery that undermine the specific realities of the early-modern Atlantic world and the early American republic. But there ought to be openness in the academy and in the discipline to let the historical record elucidate comparisons or contrasts between slaveries of the past and the present.
With all that in mind, this year’s annual conference raised new issues and considered a range of solutions.