The Other Uncertainty: The View from Disaster History


From my beloved comrade Prof. Scott G. Knowles, Ph.D. (Drexel University)

…The “certainty” of the historical record is an artifact of a time when women, minority groups, workers, and nonhuman life/the environment were not part of the inquiry.

When only a few main narratives are allowed into the record it is far easier to develop straightforward causal explanations of historical change. To put it simply: narratives of progress are easier to sustain when one studies primarily white men in the global North. This type of certainty peaked in the early twentieth century, and as the century groped along through war and civil unrest, so too did the study of history grope toward a deeper uncertainty. Add more perspectives, especially those of marginalized groups, and the narrative falls apart—it becomes many stories, many causes, not leading in a definable progressive direction. As the profession works more and more to attain inclusion among its ranks, it will become more likely to tell a deep and variegated history, one more attuned to the realities and complexities of the human experience. The end goal, I believe, is to render a past that captures as many perspectives as possible; only then can history be said to be something other than a selective reading by and for powerful interests…

Source: The Other Uncertainty: The View from Disaster History – Items

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