The History of Parliament will be embarking on a three-year research project funded by the British Academy and Wolfson Foundation. History’s Director, Paul Seaward, will explore the nature of parliaments’ institutional life: what are the ideas and practices that create a vigorous and viable institution, and perhaps what might threaten it.
The project summary is as follows:
The current crisis of representation and legitimacy in our politics reminds us that the historical basis of our understanding of parliament and its role and operation badly needs updating. This project will look at parliament over 500 years in a radically different way, viewing it as an institution deeply interwoven into British life culture as well as into the British constitution and state. Using the concepts of memory, time, space and culture, it will explore how these make up the institution and how they contribute to its structural strength, or introduce some of its weaknesses. It will encourage us to recognise once again the importance of structure and process, for so long seen as of secondary significance, in political contention, but also to understand more about why these things, through helping to consolidate elites, might help to deligitimise politics.
The History of Parliament has appointed a new Director to take charge over the next three years: he is Stephen Roberts, currently editor of the History’s 1640-1660 project.