Social scientists, usually not historians, are investigating the influence of the past on the present. More accurately, they're finding correlations between conditions in the past and current conditions. A couple examples are the beer/wine division of Europe and the influence of past slavery on current political institutions (i.e. the US South).
Here's another in a tweet.--tracing the vote division in France to 12th century political divisions.
It's an interesting subject; I'd like to see something theorizing about the mechanics of such influences.