Beyond the Canon: History for the Twenty-first Century by Maria Grever, Siep Stuurman

By Maria Grever, Siep Stuurman

'Beyond the Canon' bargains with fresh politicized approaches of canonization and its implications for historic tradition in a globalizing and postcolonial global. the amount discusses the framing and transmission of old wisdom and its effects for the development of narratives and the instructing of historical past in multicultural environments.

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However, such a canon also has its drawbacks. Its principal flaw is that canonized versions of the past, particularly when imposed by the state, undermine the plurality of perspectives. 39 Moreover, because canonized facts, names, 42 Beyond the Canon dates and images tend to petrify, they may actually contribute to stereotyping and ethnic categorization. Where there is a canonized nation, there will also be non-canonized ‘others’. The probable effect of the explicit exclusion of other, ‘deviant’ interpretations and perspectives will be indifference, alienation and dissension among communities and groups who do not recognize themselves in the authorized canon.

The latter is logically selfcontradictory and pedagogically useless. See for example, K. Jenkins, Rethinking History (London, 1991). 6. J. Dempsey, ‘A Lingering Soviet Shadow over Europe’, International Herald Tribune, 6 May 2005. 7. CBC, Canada: a People’s History, produced by Mark Starowicz (Toronto, 2000–01). The analysis of the CBC was submitted in an earlier version for S. ), Narrating the Nation (New York: forthcoming). 8. G. Bouchard, Génèse des nations et cultures du nouveau monde. Essai d’histoire comparée (Québec, 2000).

To put it strongly, an imposed canon of history tends to degenerate into an ideology. Such a canon deploys a one-dimensional perspective on historical events, through which ‘history’ becomes a series of relics, instead of the articulation of a dynamic, layered and polyphonic past. In the end, the notion of a real historical process depends on the plurality of perspectives. In the first place, historical events and processes are by their very definition contingent. They need interpretation because in themselves they lack meaning.

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