29 June 2020

REVIEW ARTICLE: Danielle CHARETTE & Max SKJÖNSBERG, 'State of the Field: The History of Political Thought' (History) (OPEN ACCESS)

(image source: Wiley)

This article surveys the state of the field of the history of political thought. The premise of the discipline is that political arguments and ideas have developed historically and thus have theoretical histories that can be located and traced. But, as our survey of the field shows, what counts as ‘context’ is up for debate, and contextual methods have become more sensitive to present‐day concerns. The border between the history of political thought and political theory is increasingly porous. We begin with some of the main claims and criticisms of the ‘Cambridge’ method of political thought, chiefly associated with Quentin Skinner, John Dunn and J. G. A. Pocock. We then consider newer developments, such as the ‘global turn’, which have steered the discipline beyond its traditionally European or male subject matter. While this shift in direction is welcome, we caution against a history that abstracts away from local sites of political contestation. Finally, we stress that (Western) historians moving beyond the West have even more reason to stay conscious of their own linguistic and cultural limitations.
Read the full article in open access here.

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