chapter  3
53 Pages

Negotiating ‘difference’

In Chapter 1 I set out six general principles for a ‘postmodernist’ or, more broadly, a sceptical practice of history, three of which were particularly relevant to my discussion of teleology/presentism in Chapter 2. A central part of that discussion was focussed upon unconscious teleology, particularly in conventional approaches to linear causation involving quests for origins. Given the frequency with which origins and tradition are obviously invented, it can be

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10111 11 2 3222 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5222 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

empiricist history would recommend that we switch our focus to ruptures or breaks in the passage of time/events – to discontinuity(s). A second guideline for a sceptical praxis of history that was especially pertinent in Chapter 2 was the need for self-reflexivity on the part of the historian, with respect to frank admissions of one’s own position(s), uncertainties and contradictions. In agreement with Somekawa and Smith and others, what I take to be more indicative of scholarly integrity than disinterested truth claims is the frankness with which the historian acknowledges his/her commitments – for example, to an epistemological and political, radical praxis of history. The third principle of practice underlined in Chapter 2 was intimately related to the above-mentioned demand for the historian’s presence in the text, reflecting upon his/her uncertainties and contradictions as well as history’s intrinsic paradoxes. This was the desirability of leaving arguments and conclusions more open to avoid ‘closures of knowledge’.