Saturday, June 28, 2008

When historians engage in research that has an especially close connection to the here-and-now, the responsibility to enter into the public arena can sometimes loom large. Jim Miller is one who takes the role of 'public intellectual' very seriously. When Jim weighs in on contentious matters such as treaty rights or residential schools, he does so in an effort to and in the spirit of restoring historical context and accuracy to debates that, like so many on contentious issues, are inclined to degenerate into sloganeering, polemics, and mutual incomprehension. Jim's interventions are all the more effective for the straight talk, clarity, and concision with which he states a case. For the latest example of how historians can best serve the public interest, click here or here to read Jim's opinion piece in yesterday's Globe and Mail (June 27th): "The next residential schools chapter: No truth, no reconciliation".