Monday, January 15th, 2007
Often, I’ve thought about macro-scale approaches to social science and theories of sociopolitical evolution, but today, almost for the first time, I thought about how historians might approach the same issues, working from the temples of archives of records about the past, sometimes without questioning what other records, the non-written kind like ruins and artifacts, might indicate about these same people and times.
Both approaches bounce between one or a few examples (case studies), and broad theories, but the data each draw upon differs. However, the theories both end up with are surprisingly similar. Each has two camps, for instance, on whether the past cycles or is more linear (depends in part on how deeply into The Past you’re willing to go), and to what extent different perspectives are incorporated (the conquered “periphery” may see the trajectory of time/history quite differently from the privileged “core”).