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Decolonizing military history

Ken Mondschein recently published an op-ed, "Words and Swords: A Samizdat on Medieval Military History and the Decolonization of the Academy," with Medievally Speaking, on how to decolonize his field of medieval military history:

The past two years have seen a growth of a movement, notably amongst our colleagues in literature but with the support of many in other disciplines, to “decolonize” the practice of medieval studies. This includes de-centering Europe, and especially northern Europe, as a locus of study; challenging narratives of a white, male, Christian Middle Ages perpetuated by white, male, Christian historians; considering critical race and gender theory in our work; and rejecting earlier historiography as supporting systemic racism and imperialism. While this movement is partly a culmination of long-brewing changes, it is also a reaction to the emergence of the alt-right and its use of medieval symbolism. Dorothy Kim, in her influential essay “Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy,” has said, “medieval studies is intimately entwined with white supremacy and has been so for a long time… objective neutrality… no longer works, because it facilitates white supremacists.” In other words, we have no choice but to engage in this work: to not do so is to implicitly support injustice. No matter what one’s own politics or position on the matter, this debate has become the historiographical question of the moment, and it is part of our professional responsibilities as historians to be au courant on these ideas.  READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY



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