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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Is There a Baby in This Bathwater? Disquieting Thoughts on the Value of Content in History
Author:Allen, G.R.ISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:history education
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582470008671378
Abstract:South Africans historians of all ideological persuasions claim that their discipline has a significant, and often morally important, practical contribution to make to society in general and in empowering individuals. For many years 'establishment' history was taught in South African schools and the decline in history's status (and popularity) as a school subject is perhaps connected to this perception. This essay is not intended to answer the question of whether academic history is socially valuable, but to act as an aid to critical reflection by questioning some of the claims made for its social power. More specifically, it highlights some of the problems that arise when historians claim social relevance for their discipline. It focuses on the following functions of historical knowledge: to provide familiarity in order to know and understand the social world; to attribute continuity and order to the experience of life; to provide hindsight; to contribute to the process of consciousness formation and, finally, to enable the professional and popular representation of the past. Notes, ref.