History Wars: Terms of debate

This post originally appeared on ActiveHistory.ca

Last month, Terry Glavin wrote a syndicated op-ed piece that appeared in The Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver’s The Province, delivering a strongly worded dismissal of the historical profession in Canada. Historians and others have responded elsewhere to his indictment of the profession (see herehere and here). Today, I want to respond to the broader ideas that inform his argument.

Glavin’s essay mostly parrots a series of arguments that have been lobbed at historians since the profession began to change its focus in the 1970s and 1980s. These ideas are quite resilient. Despite their regular application (mostly in the media), his accusations are neither fair nor reflective of current historical practice and broader professional interpretations of Canada’s past. More importantly, their use is a distraction from the key issues at stake. Continue reading “History Wars: Terms of debate”