Social History as "Sites of Memory"? The Institutionalization of History: Microhistory and the Grand Narrative

Criticizes the way in which social historians practiced their scholarship after the 1970's and how and why they have not responded to the challenges of postmodernism and poststructuralism. The focus is on the 'Journal of Social History (JSH)' and the academic debate since its inception - how scholars have responded to the challenges and problems facing the discipline at different times. Connections are drawn between these developments found in 'JSH' and the author's own ideas and experiences of academic work, with the aim of assessing the state of the discipline in the early years of the 21st century. As a result of the very success of social history, social historians have felt no reason to take scholarly risks since 1990 - there is simply no incentive for them to do so. Hence, the image of social history becomes ossified, and scholars are tempted to start treating social history as nothing more than a series of "sites of memory," as monuments that can be neither moved nor challenged. The article severely critiques the conventional theoretical framework of social-historical research - the institutionalization of history - and an attempt is made to redefine the aims and parameters of history to enable it to achieve its full potential. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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