Ma che cosa è questo Atlantico? Un modernista di fronte alla storiografia delle buone intenzioni


The author first establishes his pedigree as an early Atlanticist; then describes the geographical and chronological features of the so-called “new Atlantic history”. The success of Atlantic history is undeni-able. During the past twenty-five years or so, books and articles that identify themselves as “Atlantic” have multiplied, so much that few historians, especially among the younger ones, dare distance themselves from the new obligatory gospel. The author attributes two main features to the new Atlantic history. The first is mainly ethical, in that it assumes that certain moral categories, such as inclusion, diversity, multiethnicity, and multiculturalism, are intrinsecally good and as such must be applied to society as well as to the study of history. The second feature is epistemological. It assumes that by examining the Atlantic communities as a whole we improve the knowledge of their history. By examining this second feature, however, the author shows that the gap between the unattainable promises of the new Atlantic history and their practical realisa-tions in terms of new knowledge is striking. Probably the only subfield of study that has really profited from this new Atlantic perspective is that of African-Atlantic history. There are, of course, a good number of good Atlantic historians. One wonders, however, whether the novelty represented by their works derives more from their originality as scholars rather than from their adherence to the new Atlantic canon. This article is based on a thorough examination of “Atlantic history” books and articles published between 1922 and 2016, that are listed in the Bibliography in chronological order.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a5n2p57

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