Historia Magistra Vitae? The Role of Historiography in Culture and Politics


  • Georg Gangl Oulun yliopisto


In this text I analyze the relationship between historiography, politics, and wider historical
culture. Starting point for my argumentation are the organization “Historians without Borders”
and a contentious resolution by the “Association of German Historians” from 2018. In a first
step, I shortly reconstruct the relationship between politics, historical culture, and historiography
that is presupposed by both the organization and the resolution. Next, I argue that historiography
has a specific and unique role to play in historical culture and democracy as producer of historical
knowledge and understanding and that there are legitimate political interests that directly stem
from those activities. In particular, based on their professional activities historians have good
grounds to stand in for the establishment or maintenance of deliberative democratic systems
with which their professional endeavour shares many principles and commonalities.