The Errs of Historiography.

Posted: August 30, 2013 in History/Philosophy
Tags: , , , ,

In a previous blog I raised the question about the validity of a ‘clean’ reading of history (The Book of Geuzen by Louis Paul Boon). On a similar note, feminist historians have pointed out how the history in our textbooks is very limited. Both the selection of facts and the structure of time based on these facts are androcentric. By taking a look at how we perceive the past, we get an insight in our contemporary believes.

The history of history as a source of information about today.

In the discussion of Boon’s book I asked whether it’s okay to add a bit of fantasy. Can fantasy bring us closer to the historical reality? This time, I and feminist historians take the scope of the historian into question. Joan Kelly discusses the Renaissance and our common views on this period. In her views, common opinions about humanism, progress and equality are in fact only true for the male population. Instead of an increasing equality, the practical consequences of the Renaissance’s ideals were an increased influence of male tutors and family upon women. The selection of topics studied by women was made feminine and there roles were diminished inside the court. This resulted in a decline of power in the political sphere and growing inequality between the sexes.

Suitably, the article was titled: Did Women Have A Renaissance?

Are the core ideas connected by every high school student with the Renaissance really part of the Renaissance as whole? Or only to the male part? Or worse, only to an elite group within the penis-group of humanity?

Feminists have studied the role of women in history and the androcentric view on history for decades. Nevertheless, the lessons we take should go much further. Every individual or group has a certain power during a specific period of time. The power of an individual or a group is equal to the network they are in, the size of the network and the position they take in it. Influencing our view on the past is not simply a vile act of distorting history. It’s an inevitable consequence of having power. It’s the unstoppable creativity of power. In this case, history is in the making.

All we can do is stay alert and try to find our own weaknesses and those of others in looking at the past. The way we look at the past unveils our view on society.

Three helpful questions:
– Who wrote the sources that inform us about the past?
– Who are our historians?
– What power do groups have and lack in our current society?


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