Rethinking (my) history

The postmodern critique of history, mounted by Keith Jenkins, Alun Munslow and a number of their illustrious forebears (Saussure, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Barthes, Rorty, White, Baudrillard, Ankersmith), posed a serious challenge to the traditional (empirical, objectivist) historian. In 'Rethinking (My) History', I examine the principal works of history I have written, seen in the light of the 'postmodern' critique, and consider a number of the questions raised by it. In particular, I discuss the questions raised by Jenkins and Munslow concerning the relationship between history and ontology, the possible existence of fact and causation, the importance of perspective, and the relationship between power and knowledge. I also consider briefly the significance of Saussure's assertion that different languages created different worlds, Barthes' idea of the relative nature of truth, and Hayden White's critique of metanarrative/history. Not surprisingly, given the complexity of many of the issues raised, I come to no very definite conclusion.