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Deconstructing History by Alun Munslow

By Alun Munslow

Surveying the most recent study, this welcome moment variation of Alun Munslow’s winning Deconstructing heritage provides a very good creation to the debates and problems with postmodernist historical past.

This new version has been up-to-date and revised and, besides the unique dialogue fabric and issues, now:

  • assesses the claims of historical past as a kind of ‘truthful’ explanation
  • discusses the bounds of traditional old pondering and perform, and the responses of the ‘new empiricists’ to the book’s vital arguments
  • examines the coming of ‘experimental historical past’ and its implications
  • clarifies the application of addressing Michael Foucault and Hayden White, and strengthens the research of Frank R. Ankersmit’s fresh work.

Along with an up to date word list, and a revised bibliography, this moment version won't simply reside as much as its predecessor’s acceptance, yet will surpass it because the such a lot crucial pupil source for learning background and its perform.

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The mainstream reconstructionist philosopher of history C. Behan McCullagh provides an exceptionally clear argument as to the objectives of reconstructionists and maintains that most try to discover what actually happened in the past, which explains why they pay such attention to the accuracy of their observations of evidence and to the adequacy of their inferences from it, and why they refuse to put forward any descriptions of the past for which there is not good evidence. 2 McCullagh concludes that although historical descriptions cannot be proved true beyond all possibility of error, they can often be proved probably true, given empiricist assumptions.

In Saussure’s opinion, words do not unproblematically correspond to the things to which they refer – their referents. There is no natural relationship between the word and the world. The relationship between words and what they signify is, therefore, arbitrary. Any referentiality we assume in language is the result of it being fixed by social convention. Saussure’s second argument follows from this lack of natural correspondence of word and world. Words are only ‘signs’ being, in effect, defined by their difference from other words in a sentence.

Although Marwick accepts the notion of history as a discipline in the sense of a profession, he will not agree that the profession is disciplined by power relations to say and do certain things. He certainly disagrees with White’s view that history has been domesticated by ideologies of all kinds from the nineteenth century onwards, and that deconstruction has reinvigorated the past by acknowledging its possibilities rather than truths to be found. 40 History as reconstruction/construction Most mainstream historians start by rejecting what they characterise as a relativist view of historical knowledge.

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