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Palliser Lecture 2020: Should History Carry a Health Warning?


Tuesday, December 1 2020 at 4 - 5.30 pm GMT


This sixth Palliser Lecture was delivered online by Professor Margaret MacMillan CC CH.

History can be both dangerous and useful. While oversimplified, one-sided stories from the past can stir up resentments and grievances and justify bad policies. History, properly done, is key to understanding issues, others, and, equally important, ourselves. We need good history more than ever to help us make sense of our turbulent and changing world and where it might be headed.



The Palliser Lecture was inaugurated in 2014 to honour British diplomat, the Rt Hon Sir Michael Palliser GCMG (1922–2012). Sir Michael served as Vice-Chair of Salzburg Global Seminar for more than a decade and was a founding trustee of the 21st Century Trust which works in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar. He also enjoyed a long career in the British Diplomatic Service, culminating as Permanent Under Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service.

The annual lecture is held in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar, and we are also grateful to the Aga Khan Foundation for its support.

Previous speakers include Edward Mortimer CMG, Chair of the 21st Century Trust and former Senior Vice President of Salzburg Global Seminar; Dominic Grieve QC, until recently MP for Beaconsfield; Baroness Usha Prashar CBE; Sir John Major KG C