In the US, and conspicuously via social media, we are witnessing an acceleration of what we term historical knowledge mobilisation: increasingly and in various ways, evidence derived from academic historical research is being shared with broader publics. Moreover, evidence-based and false or misleading historical claims are being advanced with an eye toward influencing key decisions and/or impelling social change.
Aims and objectives:
This exploratory study draws upon Ward’s (: 477) ‘framework for knowledge mobilisers’ to facilitate an analysis of what and whose historical knowledge is being shared, and how and why this is happening. It aims to provide information and guidance to support scholars of knowledge mobilisation or evidence use, as well as active historical knowledge mobilisers.
This study sought to identify patterns vis-à-vis historical knowledge mobilisation by applying qualitative media analysis to a set of cases. We attended to content, style, and process of historical knowledge mobilisation.
Three main themes help to explain the historical knowledge mobilisation: (a) correcting or countering a master narrative; (b) real-time correction of historical claims; and (c) contextualising complicated political moments. We also described new ways to disseminate/exchange this knowledge which altogether function to expand access to historical knowledge, but also to competing historical claims.
Discussion and conclusions:
The trends revealed provide insights into how historical knowledge is being used to justify political aims, and how some academics are using non-traditional means to counter false and misleading claims. Further infrastructural and empirical development is needed to support these efforts.