Gabrielle Spiegel: The incoming head of the AHA talks about drawing the right lessons from history (Interview)

Historians in the News

[Ms. Spiegel is chair of the history department at Johns Hopkins.]

... A specialist in the history of medieval France, [Gabrielle ] Spiegel received her undergraduate degree in 1964 from Bryn Mawr College and her Hopkins doctorate a decade later. Her appreciation of American history comes in part, she says, from her own experience, having been born into a Belgian family who were refugees from World War II in Europe.

"Although I was born in the United States, I first went to school not speaking a word of English, only French," she says. "Now I am the president of the American Historical Association. There is something really poignant about that for me. I don't know many countries where that could happen with quite the ease that it does here."

[Question] What are the current challenges facing your profession?

[Answer] One of the things that is happening is that because we are now living in an enormously globalized world, we are becoming aware of the kinds of courses we need to offer. We are trying to incorporate the fact of globalization, go back and take a look at its roots. So there is a lot of work being done on colonialization and decolonialization and post-colonialization and diasporas and immigration.

The younger generation understands this. The rising generation is very aware that we are living in this incredibly complex world and that they have to see themselves in relation to that world in a way that was not really required a generation or two ago....
Read entire article at Baltimore Sun

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