What we call the past is just that: It is what happened at some point before now. Once it occurs, the past is gone forever –beyond repeating, beyond reliving, beyond replicating. It is recoverable only by the evidence, almost never complete, that it leaves behind; and that evidence must be and is interpreted by individual humans, historians principally, all of whom differ in all sorts of ways. Distinct from the actual past are the narratives and analyses that historians offer us about earlier times. That is what we have been taught to call ‘history’, i.e., what most of us make of the forever-gone past. Indeed, history is created by the application of human thought and imagination to what is left behind…
Only recently have conventional historians been confronted by others with which Herodotus was more comfortable —those coming from social and cultural (and human rights) history, through whom the history of women, slaves, laboring people, African Americans, Latinos, gays and lesbians, and others whose rights have been and are violated have been given greatly enlarged attention. This marks the emergence of all people as historical subjects not avoiding public and political historical frictions.
Read Claudio Schuftan’s article
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