Reflections on the Enterprise of Interdisciplinary History: The JIH Turns 50

AHA Session 96
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Empire Ballroom East (Sheraton New York, Second Floor)
Robert Rotberg, editor
Ann Carmichael, Indiana University
Peter A. Coclanis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael McCormick, Harvard University
Emily Merchant, University of California, Davis

Session Abstract

For fifty years the JIH has linked history with cognate social sciences and other humanities to encourage research, scholarship, and publication across disciplines, with historicism being informed and strengthened by methods originally employed elsewhere and now, partially thanks to the JIH, central to the recovering of past time. The JIH has welcomed articles that used advanced methods of quantification, that focused on demographic insights, that were psychohistorical and psychobiographical, that introduced medical insights and techniques, that brought urban and spatial planning into history, and that depended on scientific understandings of climate’s role in historical development. Special issues and edited volumes derived from the Journal have focused the attention of historians on new methodologies for the study of a wide range of topics, from marriage and the family, state formation and national identities, to the place of art and opera in history.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the JIH, this roundtable panel will both reflect on the past experience of interdisciplinary modes of historical work, as well as on its ongoing promise for the future. Both long-term and newer contributors to the journal -- as authors, reviewers, and editorial board members – will initiate the discussion with brief comments about their experience as practitioners of interdisciplinary scholarship, with a particular view to illuminating the role of the journal in it. We are also interested in thinking about future directions for the journal to explore, to imagining collectively fruitful new lines of communication across disciplinary boundaries. We seek a robust audience discussion about the kinds of questions that remain to be asked, and hopefully answered, in the boundary spaces between disciplines, especially as new areas of scientific inquiry continue to be opened by technical innovation and discovery.

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