After responding to the question about historical bias the other night, I received quite a few questions asking for a clarification or explanation of various facets of the issue. So, I have decided to write the essay I threatened in the initial response. Well, actually I got over-excited and ended up writing almost 3000 words on the subject. So I’m going to post it in five sections: 1) an overview of the typical accusations lobbed at the historical discipline and a discussion of the veracity of said accusations; 2) a discussion of how the programs which train historians handle the issue of learned biases; 3-4) a discussion of the types of bias which actually exist; and 5) a discussion of any ideas I have about how existing biases can be dealt with.
Throughout these posts, please keep in mind that I have absolutely no institutional power within/over academia; I’m just a 23 year old Master’s student with a blog. Further, while some material in these posts will obviously be drawn from my experiences as graduate student in a history department, the problems I have with academia are in no way a reflection of my graduate experience. Thus far, my experience as a graduate student has been a primarily positive one, and I have never once had a professor behave in a negative or abusive way towards me.
These posts will be drawn from my experiences, conversations with graduate students and academics from a variety of departments and institutions, message boards, papers, the blogosphere, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Questions/Concerns will be addressed when all five posts have been posted if they bring up issues which I did not directly address in one of the five posts. (Or maybe I should say six because it’s six with this one added. Whatever.)