Mapping the Discipline of History (Reading Blog #3)

“Mapping the Discipline of History”, chapter 2 of History in Practice by Ludmilla Jordanova, discusses how to better comprehend history and its disciplines. Most people and historians think that defining history as a body of knowledge appears attractive and straightforward. Jordanova, however, states that there are two problems with that belief: first, it assumes that history is a finite field with relatively clear boundaries (trust me, it is not that simple), and second, it fails to take account of the differences between accounts of the past that historians give.

Jordanova then talks about the effect that theories have on history. In this paragraph, he states that “theories of history” refers to claims both about what has determined temporal change and about the basis for the entire discipline.  As a student, I am taught to not take theories as facts, but I understand the point that Jordanova is trying to make.

In the major section of the chapter,  Jordanova states that there are three kinds of history: political, social, and economic. In the political history part, she mentions that there could be a political history of just about anything. The power relations, the connotations of political history,  the legacies of leaders and rulers, etc. Essentially, political history allows us to look at history from above. In the social history part,  she states that social history, along with political history,  are the easiest to study and do research about, because social history can relate to a nation, tribe, city-state, or even an entire ethnic group. She also states that “society” implies the existence of repeated patterns and motifs,  which is true.

In conclusion,  I think that most of Jordanova’s thoughts and statements in this chapter are indeed correct. Learning about history and its disciplines can be difficult to do,  but if did correctly,  it could be beneficial in the long run.

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