Regional history, regional history associations, driving questions - do we confuse them?

Adam Arenson's picture

Between the Western History Association and Southern Historical Association meetings, I pose this question: How do we define our regional history, and our regional history associations? And does that make sense?

I write:

"Have we let these regional associations conflate the study of a particular geography with certain driving questions? ...

"Much as scholars agree that race does not exist in reality but yet spend careers dedicated to researching the effects of that idea, I would argue that regions don’t really exist, but that those who identify as westerners, southerners, Midwesterners, Yankees, etc., nevertheless have acted based on a socially constructed regional identity... But our study of region seems somewhat behind our critical engagement with race, or even with nation."

See the full post here:

Adam Arenson 
Associate Professor of History and Director of the Urban Studies Program

For the award-winning The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard, 2011/paperback Missouri, 2015), my co-edited volumes Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States (California, 2015) and Frontier Cities: Encounters at the Crossroads of Empire (Penn, 2013), and current projects, see: and