chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

There are, perhaps, two main correctives to this. The first is to recognize what is involved in the opposite standpoint. It is futile, we would argue, to treat the past, as some professional historians have always advocated, only ‘in its own terms’, to employ only the categories of the past to explore only the past itself. In the strict sense, this is an impossible procedure: there is no simple act of ‘recovery’ uninformed by the experiences, needs and concepts of today. We are inescapably historical beings: the object of history is not just the past; it is the past-present relationship. To pretend to historical contemplation is a form of delusion. We owe to the struggles of the past (and to ourselves) not only an archaeology of recovery or memory, but also the dignity of contemporary importance, and therefore the dignity of evaluation.1