Professors Discuss Diversity, Relevance of History

Six professors discussed the diversity of history and its everyday implications during the third annual “History is Everything, Everything is History” talk Wednesday afternoon.

A tradition of the History department, the event aims to provide students with an overview of the resources offered by the concentration.

“We come together as a department in order to present some of the greatest work that we are doing here in and beyond the classroom,” said History professor Maya Jasanoff, who moderated the event.

The event highlighted the interconnected relationship between history and daily life.

“Some of the people in the history department found out that history suffered from an emergent problem—people think it’s all about the past,” Jasanoff said. “But it’s really about the present and the future.”


Panelists described their different research fields, from classics to Turkish studies, to convey the diversity of historical studies. They also discussed current events, such as the Ferguson riots, from a historical perspective.

“Part of reason why history is everything is that history is cyclical,” said assistant professor of History Elizabeth K. Hinton. “Ferguson and history show us that giving the police more weapons does not make us safer. That historical cycle must be broken.”


Another topic was China’s one-child policy. Michael Szonyi, chair of the Committee on Regional Studies East Asia, used demographic statistics to show that China’s fertility rate would dramatically decrease in the future. He argued that “historical lessons could have been learned but were not,” from this case study.

“We now know that this is a mistake caused by ignorance of history,” Szonyi said.

The event attracted both undergraduate and graduate students. Ian J. Miller, a professor of History and director of undergraduate studies, said he was glad to see the event improve from year to year.

“What we are very eager to do is to illustrate the diversity of the concentration,” Miller said. “It is a little glimpse of the future.”