Harvard Urged to Do More on Gay History

May 15, 2013

A prominent Harvard University historian, Niall Ferguson, has been apologizing for statements he made that John Maynard Keynes didn't care about future generations because he was gay and did not have children. The chair of the Committee on LGBT History, a national group, on Tuesday issued a statement encouraging Ferguson to read more gay history, and calling on Harvard to use the Ferguson controversy to play more of a role in gay history. "Harvard should show leadership here by, at a minimum, hosting a major conference about LGBT history and encouraging Ferguson to attend. It is also high time that Harvard makes a new tenure-track hire in LGBT history. The incident has underscored the value of teaching and researching LGBT histories. This confronts ignorance about LGBT people, lives, and communities, and in the process, builds a more accurate historical record overall," said the statement, published at the History News Network.

In an e-mail message to Inside Higher Ed, David Armitage, the chair of history at Harvard, said: "We do not currently have a tenure-track position specifically focused on gay and lesbian history but we did request a post in the modern history of gender and sexuality (jointly with Harvard's program in women and gender studies) long before the recent debate arose. We already have great strength in this field, with Afsaneh Najmabadi, Nancy Cott, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in our department, but we very much hope to extend our reach in this area, alongside many other pressing priorities for our department."

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