Tuesday, August 25, 2015

History and Policy

Not a Picasso.  A Toronto regional planning concept, 1970
Richard White's Historical Perspectives on Toronto Planning considers a difficulty for historians: getting their work out of the "antiquarian interest" box and into the policy-making one
The study has plenty of merit, and I have no reason to question its factual observations, but like so much work done by Toronto urban analysts it lacks historical perspective. Toronto’s history is not unknown, and more is being written all the time – Neptis has itself commissioned historical studies, perhaps the only urban research body to have done so – but it always seems to end up in the ‘history’ box, to be brought out and viewed only for antiquarian purposes. Historical analysis rarely informs present-day discourse. But it could, and it should.
White's new book is upcoming from UBC Press.
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