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Why I am a historian
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2013 (English)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 79, no 2, 68-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The role of the historian, it is argued here, is similar to that of an interpreter: the historian's task of making the past comprehensible to modern readers can be compared to the task of interpreting for refugees who have just arrived in a new country. Both the historian and the interpreter are, or should be, intensely aware of their responsibility in rendering the information with which they are entrusted in a truthful manner. People in the modern world are quite capable of learning from the past. Yet the past is not immediately accessible, and there is no quick fix to learning about the past. In a metaphorical sense, it is the job of the professional historian to help people draw conclusions from the past. This does not mean that there are right and wrong conclusions in a simplistic sense; it does, however, mean that some conclusions are more valid and more easily defended given the norms or styles of reasoning that pertain within the community of historians. While pluralism is good for the discipline of history, the practical problems that may result from pluralism cannot be ignored. Thus, history is now such a sprawling and multifaceted field that it is hard, not to say impossible, to survey and evaluate its results. As the present article suggests, perhaps it is time to devote more energy to cooperative and synthetic endeavours with a view to establishing what all our knowledge means.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 79, no 2, 68-75 p.
Keyword [en]
interpretation, learning from history, professional norms, pluralism
National Category
Humanities History and Archaeology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-215308ISI: 000327918900007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-215308DiVA: diva2:686734
Available from: 2014-01-13 Created: 2014-01-13 Last updated: 2014-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Ågren, Maria
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