Culture and history

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Culture and history is the main building block of our lifes

The Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture

History is the study of life in society in the past, in all its aspect, in relation to present developments and future hopes. It is the story of man in time, an inquiry into the past based on evidence.

As with any scholarly approach that boasts of being “new” when it bursts onto the scene, new cultural history was fairly well established as one among many ways of thinking about history by the twenty-first century. This is not to say that new cultural historians enjoyed the unanimous esteem of their more traditional colleagues, for the field still managed to draw the fire of critics from the left and the right who believed that after twenty years this approach still represented a mere “trend.” One could agree with Peter Novick that this attests to the fragmentation of the historical profession into a plethora of specializations that no longer cohered around shared principles and whose denizens had little common ground for discussion. Yet much has changed in cultural history since its heyday in the 1980s.

 When new cultural history was actually “new” it provided innovations both in terms of the topics considered worthy of historical attention and in terms of the ways of theorizing such topics within their respective contexts. It is nevertheless apparent that a good portion of what was marketed in 2000 as “cultural history” reflected more of the topical rather than theoretical innovations entailed by this approach. In fact, some of these works even read more like conventional social histories with a few obligatory nods to one of many privileged theorists.

To some extent this state of affairs reflects the success of this approach in the academy and the willingness of historians to combine methodologies in a creative and eclectic manner. On the other hand, though, one might argue that cultural history lost much of its edge by becoming subsumed into a more or less nonreflective historical establishment. Some historians see less fragmentation than the cooptation of erstwhile radical approaches back into a surprisingly resilient mainstream.

“Whatever possibilities become evident,” notes Patrick Joyce, “something is needed to shake the hold of a history which continually reproduces itself, in the process sucking the erstwhile heterodox into its consensus, in much the way that ‘cultural history’ is slowly but surely becoming routinized as more methodology, yet one more subdiscipline in the house of history.” Joyce’s observation is astute, yet one wonders whether a historical approach that could successfully resist such cooptation is possible and, even if it were, whether it would still merit the name “history.” It seems evident that what makes history “history” has little to do with methodologies and innovations that are unique to it, and perhaps a more thoroughgoing interdisciplinarity would discourage the domestication of future innovations into mere additions to the mansion of conventional history.