Right and left are united in a vulgar form of historicism

Arjun Appadurai in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The recent debate over “presentism” among historians, especially those based in the United States, has generated both heat and light. It is a useful conversation to have now, at a moment when the public sphere, and even more so the university’s space within it, seems to consist more of mines than of fields. Debates about Covid-19, affirmative (in)action, antisemitism, sexual violence, student debt, Title IX, Confederate monuments, racist donors, resigning presidents, and rogue trustees combine to occlude the daylight of classes, books, and learning.

It is no wonder that the hills are alive with the sound of presentism. Absent a serious space for reflection, debate, and deliberation in or on the actually existing present, it becomes easy to claim that my history is bigger than yours, or more ethically relevant, or more marginalized. In this weaponized sense everyone is in the history business, and it is only in the relative calm of graduate programs, annual meetings, journal submissions, and the recruitment of professional historians that the soothing hum of sources, chronologies, periods, and methods can still be heard.

The weaponized present is always lurking.

More here.