Politics, Political Culture, and State Power

The term political history was nearly a tautology in the early years of the profession; as one old maxim went, "History is past politics, and politics.jpgpolitics is present history." To transcend the limitations of political history, many historians turned to social history, a field that one of its practitioners famously defined in 1944 as "history with the politics left out." Today few social historians ignore questions of power, and likewise, few political historians focus exclusively on the state as if it were an autonomous domain. Members of this cluster focus on the “new political history” and consider the state in terms of bureaucratic structures, elections, administrative policies, militaries, police powers, legitimating ideologies, and mass movements seeking to influence or control the state. We are also concerned more broadly with the question of power and the relationship between politics and culture. We have a particular focus on the study of violence – including genocide, politicide, ethnic cleansing, and riots – and the ways states and societies face cases of past violence.