|Number of pages||32|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 18 Sep 2019|
In January 2019 the Chief Executive of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the study of history, called for the appointment of government departments to appoint chief historical advisers. This, it was argued, would allow policy makers to utilise expert advice derived from the ‘lessons of history’ to improve the decision-making processes. This article examines these proposals in the light of what, in fact, has been a long-standing process of ‘learning’ from history that cuts across cultures, societies and eras. This is undertaken by reference to a number of largely foreign policy case studies – ranging from the Cuban Missile Crisis to post-2001 Afghanistan – where the invocation of the past has been undertaken in order to influence or refine policy choices (sometimes with mixed results). In the light of these examples, the article then considers certain of the implications of the deployment of history for the machinery of the state and of professional historians in policy-relevant roles.
- History, government, politics, past