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History after HobsbawmWriting the Past for the Twenty-First Century$
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John H. Arnold, Matthew Hilton, and Jan Rüger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198768784.001.0001

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A ‘Slight Angle to the Universe’

A ‘Slight Angle to the Universe’

Eric Hobsbawm, Politics, and History

(p.309) 17 A ‘Slight Angle to the Universe’
History after Hobsbawm

Geoff Eley

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses Eric Hobsbawm more directly than the others, to ask big questions about the political nature of the historian’s task. By contrasting Hobsbawm’s own political formation with that of a later generation—principally that which was influenced by 1968 and its legacies—it calls for a renewed political engagement within the profession. It overviews some of the major conceptual and theoretical developments in history over the last forty years. But, rather than calling for the superiority of either the old or the new left, it finds much to be optimistic about in a variety of leftist approaches to the past that can still be embraced to rejuvenate historical analysis.

Keywords:   1968, political engagement, generation, Eric Hobsbawm, the left

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