Over the last twenty years or so several new waves of research on the history of liberalism have emerged. The novelty of this should not be exaggerated as broad scholarly interest in liberalism has in fact been increasing at a remarkable rate since the 1980s. Nevertheless, it is clear that the historiography of liberalism has broken much new ground since around the turn of the century. This has been driven partly by the influence of larger developments in the humanities and social sciences. The global and post-colonial turns, for instance, have helped to reshape the historiography of liberalism by provoking debates over the extent of its complicity in slavery and colonialism, while also drawing attention to the contribution of theorists from the global south. But even much of this ‘normal’ innovation has been driven at least indirectly by a growing sense that liberalism is in crisis. The War on Terror, the financial meltdown of 2008 and the global rise of populist authoritarianism are the obvious staging posts in liberalism's journey from post-Cold War triumphalism to contemporary fears for its imminent demise. And it is not a coincidence that the end of the end of history has seen the beginning of a new historiography of liberalism. Since the early 2000s the emergence of new sub-fields like the histories of ‘Cold War liberalism’, human rights and neoliberalism can all be seen in different ways as responding to liberalism's unfolding crisis.
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