A Left History of Liquorice: What It Means to Write "Left" History


  • Bryan D. Palmer




This article is part of a special Left History series reflecting upon changing currents and boundaries in the practice of left history, and outlining the challenges historians of the left must face in the current tumultuous political climate. This series extends a conversation first convened in a 2006 special edition of Left History (11.1), which asked the question, “what is left history?” In the updated series, contributors were asked a slightly modified question, “what does it mean to write ‘left’ history?”

The article charts the impact of major political developments on the field of left history in the last decade, contending that a rising neoliberal and right-wing climate has constructed an environment inhospitable to the discipline’s survival. To remain relevant, Palmer calls for historians of the left to develop a more “open-ended and inclusive” understanding of the left and to push the boundaries of inclusion for a meaningful historical study of the left. To illustrate, Palmer provides a brief materialist history of liquorice to demonstrate the mutability of left history as a historical approach, rather than a set of traditional political concerns.







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