A critical historiography of the present
Drawing on writings by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and others, this essay calls on historians to merge analytic approaches inspired by the “cultural turn” and the so-called “new social history,” as it has been evolving particularly in the United States for a couple of decades. The creation and dissemination of meaning and social stratification along the lines of categories such as race, class, gender and many more are to be understood as mutually interdependent and intersecting. Scrutinizing how webs of meaning and difference are generated in history means to show their contingency and malleability. If we take history seriously, as stressed by Michel Foucault, we will see that “there is not a timeless and essential secret” behind the order of things, but that it is the effect of history. Thus, writing history is an act of critique, as it shatters certainties and universalities and unfolds the contingency of the conditions of human existence.
Kurz-Bio: Jürgen Martschukat
ist Professor für Nordamerikanische Geschichte an der Universität Erfurt. Sein jüngstes Buch befasst sich mit der Geschichte von Familien und Vaterschaft in den USA und erscheint im Frühjahr 2013 unter dem Titel „Die Ordnung des Sozialen“ beim Campus Verlag.