Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Symbiosis of History and Politics: Review of Constantin Fasolt's The Limits of History

Susanne Rau:
The fact that historiography can be influenced by politics, evidence of which can be found in histories written during the nineteenth century and under totalitarian regimes, is not a foregone conclusion, but due to changes in academic culture this connection has slowly slipped into the practice of history. To understand the place of Fasolt's argument, one must consider the differences between two views of the way politics has influenced history. One view focuses upon a work's perspective, the value judgments it makes and sometimes even the content of historiography that comes across in contract works or historical eulogies. The second, the focus of this book, concerns the principles of historical thought. Here, human actions are no longer considered to be governed by divine providence, and the study or writing of history is thus considered a form of political activity.

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