Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

The Blind Spots of Diplomatic History

| Apr. 01, 2022

Methodology is not a sexy topic of discussion. But it should be.

Nothing is more important to an accurate retelling of diplomatic history than good methods. What we believe happened, how it happened, and why it happened, all come from good methods.

Knowledge of methods is equally important for consumers of diplomatic history. If you cannot recognize poor methods, you are more likely to read something and believe it. But you should not read something and believe it. You should read something, analyze it, and then decide to believe it (or not).

Diplomatic history suffers from several methodological blind spots. These lead to an incomplete telling of the past and the propagation of myths. Some of these blind spots may well apply to other historical disciplines, but as a diplomatic historian, I'll speak to the field I know best. Specifically, I study the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, so I'll anchor most of my critiques in examples from the diplomatic history of that era. (I will limit those critiques to the work of senior scholars and famous past historians, whose careers are less vulnerable to criticism.)...

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Mukharji, Aroop.“The Blind Spots of Diplomatic History.” War on the Rocks, April 1, 2022.

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