The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources

The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources

The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources

The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources

Excerpt

In nearly all fields, historians are engaged in an international stock-taking, in pondering how well they have done and after deciding (as historians will) that they have not done nearly well enough, in suggesting how they might do better. Nations newly born are striving to find a national identity through searching the past. Societies not yet nations are using the anvil of their history to beat out their claims to a separate identity. Old and powerful nations alike, with traditions already rich in historical knowledge, are experiencing everywhere an age of re-evaluation. As each field of study is re- examined, its limits spacial and chronological are questioned; periodization, principles of organization, and time-honored generalizations hidden in the shorthand communication of words (gentry, feudal, Puritan, empire, helot, frontier) are attacked. Once historians would have echoed the initial certainty of the speaker in Eliot "Ash Wednesday," "I know that time is always time/And place is always and only place/And what is actual is actual only for one time/And only for one place." Now, less sure of their tools and of their value judgments, many would lament (again with Eliot) the loss of the "glory of the positive hour."

Several historians recently have taken long and sometimes hard looks at British history and historiography, convinced that now is a suitable time, before the mountain of publications grows even higher, to assess what has been done and, by the assessing, perhaps to have some small influence on what may be done in the future. Science, as we know, has grown at an exponential rate, and history cannot be far behind. The number of scientists alive today exceeds the total number of . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.