Should History Carry a Health Warning?
“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (H. G. Wells)
The first decades of the 21st century have seen a sharp rise in populism, polarisation and economic precarity across the world, with governments and societies further stress-tested by the Covid pandemic – fuelling comparisons with the run-up to past wars and catastrophes. History finds itself increasingly instrumentalised for political and nationalist agendas, propping up conspiracy theories and myth-making around strong leaders.
Where is history put to good use and where is it downright dangerous? Can a better understanding of past crises and their complex interconnections inspire better leadership and help craft better responses to the systemic risks we face today? What will the historians and political scientists of 2050 say when they look back at the ‘perfect storm’ of 2020?
Our 2020 Palliser Lecture promises an extraordinary online conversation with one of the world’s most distinguished historians and commentators on international relations and conflict. Please join this interactive debate in our Designs on the Future series with Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History at the University of Toronto and former Warden of St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.
Moderated by Clare Shine, Vice President & Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar.
This lecture is organised by Salzburg Global Seminar and the 21st Century Trust in association with the Aga Khan Foundation.
Margaret MacMillanProfessor of History, University of Toronto
Margaret MacMillan (Toronto and Oxford) is professor of History at the University of Toronto and an emeritus professor of International History at Oxford University. She was Provost of Trinity College, Toronto from 2002-7 and Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford from 2007-2017. She is currently a trustee of the Central European University and the Imperial War Museum. Her research specializes in British imperial history and the international history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Publications include War: How Conflict Shaped Us, Paris, 1919, and The War that Ended Peace. She gave the CBC’s Massey lectures in 2015 and the BBC’s Reith Lectures in 2018. Awards include the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction and the Governor-General’s literary award. She has honorary degrees from several universities and is an honorary Fellow of the British Academy. She is also a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Companion of Honour (UK).