Saturday, August 25, 2007

The New Cultural Critique In History

The New Cultural Critique in 20th Century History

According to Raphael, the year 1968 (following many years of tumult and social upheaval in the West) represented a parting from the traditional Marxian narrative and a transitioning towards a new historiography, one out of which the Subaltern group of Historians would be later molded.

While the Marxian emphasis on domination and social stratification continues, the new cultural approaches widened the traditional horizon by examining power relations beyond the political and economic to all the levels within society. The new ways of history critically engaged the entire project of making history.

Feminism, Environmentalism, Post-Modernism, Postcolonial studies, the Orientalist critique as well as the Subaltern ideas all embraced not just new ways of analyzing historical actors and events but looked at ways in which knowledge was produced in relation to the self, how power related to the production of knowledge, the continued relevance of the Enlightenment ideals of the inherent superiority of Science and whether our all-encompassing human subjectivities could ever allow us to discern anything of lasting truth.

In other words, these scholars and thinkers like Foucault, Said and others were engaged in a radical critique of the West itself and questioning to what extent Western culture which has hereto been synonymous with modernity can be truly considered as such.

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