2006 | 36 | 3-21
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Towards a Theoretical Framework for Comparing Historiographies: Some Preliminary Considerations

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In this contribution the author proposed some concepts that may be useful when we are comparing historiographies. He introduced some important general problems of comparative historiography by the example of Quebec-historiography as analysed by Ronald Rudin. They concern the relationship between historiography and historical consciousness aswell as the practical functions of historiographical discourse. Next he suggested that both general themes can best be elucidated through the notion of historical identity. Thus, he proposed to take the concept of historical identity as the bridge between historiography and society; thus being the central notion for the matrix of comparative historiography. Next the author proposed to define historical identity basically as identity through change in time. Further he elucidated the fundamental relational nature of identity. The fundamental multiplicity of historical identity is a consequence of this relational nature. Next to multiplicity he elaborated on the 'exclusive' nature of identity, leading to its so called 'negative bond' to other identities. In the second part the author identified some fundamental dimensions for a matrix that can be used for classifying types of historiography. He suggested that the dimension of space and time can be taken as the most general marks of historiography. In theory the spatial dimension can be neatly differentiated into a sub-national, a national and a supra-national level, but this order is threatened in practice by the essentially contested nature of its central level, that of the nation.Next to the spatial marks of historiography he identified non-spatial marks, like religion, race, class- and gender identities.Religious identity appeared especially to have more in common with national identity than is usually assumed. Nations with powerful neighbours especially may cultivate openness instead of closure and he suggested that this may be interpreted as a sublimation of their relative political weakness. The last two marks are related to the temporal dimension. First, he elucidated that all representations of historical identity are faced with the problem of their origins. Second, he showed that spatial relations sometimes are transformed into temporal relations through the construction of worldtime.
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  • Ch. Lorenz, Berlin, for postal address, contact the journal editor
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