Yesterday I got an e-mail from a writer requesting a phone interview. The writer was working on a piece on “conservative historians” in the academy. Several sources had told this writer to contact me. Here is how I responded to the request: “Thanks for the e-mail. Sounds like a great piece, but I don’t consider myself a ‘conservative historian’ and I am not interested in going on record as one. Good luck with it–I will try to do a post at my blog when the piece appears.”
I have never understood myself as a “conservative historian,” but it is apparent that others out there–perhaps readers of this blog–believe that I am a “conservative historian.” (Others, of course, think I am a flaming liberal).
Frankly, I am not even sure what “conservative historian” means. Does this mean that I am a historian who does not take many risks in my scholarship? Does this mean that I write about subjects that might be deemed “conservative?” Does this mean that my personal politics are conservative and somehow these apparent political convictions impact my work as a historian? Does this mean that I don’t think historians should be activists? I have no idea.