The Ambiguities of History

The Problem of Ethnocentrism in Historical Writing

By Finn Fuglestad

This book argues that history may, by definition, be an imperialist science or a quintessentially Western form of?discourse. Finn Fuglestad thinks there is something profoundly ambiguous about the science or academic discipline we call history. It is the only science that is the product of its own object of study, the past, an object outside of which?it cannot exist. It is also the only science that can study itself. The author argues that history has a relationship?with one of the so-called civilizations of the world that borders on the incestuous. That civilization is Western?Civilization: history has both emerged from it and helped to shape it in such a way that they are inextricably linked.?History, with its Western conceptual framework, has become a defining part of Western Civilization to the extent that?the West cannot even conceive of itself being without history. But what happens when history is removed from?its natural habitat? Can it be done, and has it been done, other than on the terms of the West? The real issue therefore concerns all those societies and peoples outside the West who, in accordance with the Hegelian tradition, have traditionally been labeled as without history. What does it mean exactly not to have history? The reconstruction of the pasts of peoples without history poses a tremendous challenge to the science of history, especially at the conceptual level. Finn Fuglestad not only believes that there has been a failure to confront this challenge properly, but he also questions whether anything can really be done.

152 pages

Publication Date: 12/1/2005
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9788274772045