This morning, the American Historical Association announced that it has put together a draft revision of its taxonomy of the discipline and that it’s inviting comment from members as it moves toward a final form of the document. The deadline for comment is September 30.
The taxonomy is the list of subfields from which those joining, or renewing their membership in, the AHA select when describing their professional interests interests. Every member can list themselves as working in up to three subfields. These self-descriptions, in turn, become the basis for the AHA’s understanding of the overall shape of the discipline, no small matter for the principal professional organization of historians. Taken as a whole, the taxonomy is also an attempt to divide the discipline up into logical subunits, which is an interesting, but difficult, task.
The new taxonomy is of interest to me—and I suspect most other U.S. intellectual historians–in at least three distinct ways. Continue reading