British academic historians are now painfully familiar with the imperative to research our own impact. Our funding is to be dependent, in part, on the measurable impact of our researches in the domain outside the academy. For radical history this raises an interesting potential. Radical histories have traditionally been undermined by the idea that they are too personal, too individual, too fraught with impact; the very way that feminist and queer histories have woven the personal and political into the historical has been seen as somewhat suspect.

Might the drive to narrate impact give us another story? Teaching and practicing minority histories is life-changing: alongside the many women whose lives have been visibly transforming alongside their discovery of women’s history, I remember a young male student telling me that, after a term of early modern gender history, he had started doing the washing up in his shared house. The complication of identity politics as a basis for history has made the impact of minority histories no less profound. The audit trail of impact for, for example, Black History Month and LGBT History Month should be easier to trace than many other histories. Whether institutional politics prioritise those histories in the narratives of impact that will be produced over the coming years is another matter.


  1. Pingback: Rankings of History Journals « Andrew Smith's Blog

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *