What we study
When we aggregate the results from three three countries we surveyed -- the US, Canada and the UK -- the broad pattern is clear. Nearly 75% of all historical research targets Europe and North America.
How closely do these preferences map onto, say, the actual population of particular world regions? The following slide plots the numbers above (exempting the small number of historians who work on ‘world’ or ‘international’ history) against the population of various world regions. The blue bars correspond to the percentage of all historians (across the three countries we sampled) working on a particular region; the red bars represent that region’s population as a percentage of total world population. Where the blue bars are longer, a region is overrepresented, in population terms; where the red bars are longer, that region is underrepresented.
Finally, the image below shows differences of emphasis between each of our three sampled countries. Predictably, the US has more US historians; Canada has more historians of Canada; and so on. (Though note that the UK does far more of its ‘home’ history than either Canada or the United States.) But there are other interesting patterns here: the US does the best job of covering East Asia (relatively speaking), but a lousy job of covering South Asia. Canada has, proportionally speaking, the biggest commitment to Middle East history.