Reification in historiography

Nov 2016
1,531
Indus Valley, Pakistan
#1
What role does reification play in our understanding of history? Is our understanding of history largely product of reification - as it lay a framework within which we then apply our understanding of events.
 
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Nov 2016
1,531
Indus Valley, Pakistan
#5
Give one or two examples of reification in history please.
No problem, take the use of the term Africa. That is actually a abstraction because there has never been in history (maybe today) a one entity. It defies any single definition of it. The people living there are so diverse, so unconnected that to use the term in historical sense is entirely redundant. However a by using 'Africa' we have created a abstraction which in truth never existed. The lowest common denominator for Africa is so low that it could include anything. We have one the greatest and earliest civilizations in Egypt yet in others parts of Africa civilization as we undrstand it was recent exogenos introduction.

Then we have Ancient Greece which has been crafted as a European civilization overlooking that at the time Egypt, Levant, Greece and even Persia were one historical dynamo. It was not like the Greek thought I am European, the Phoenician I am Middle Eastern, the Egyptian I am African and the Persian I am Asian.

Instead I feel these people shared more with each other then rest of the world. They were and deserve a historical region. Instead the way modern historians have reified this part of human history is largely shaped within present day realities. In short the past has been shoehorned into how we see the world today with it's Western, Eastern etc divisions.

Ultimately this boils down to how much of our present reality shapes our abstraction of the past.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,946
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#7
Semiotics is less pessimistic:

when we read history we give a meaning to it. It's the meaning which can differ from the original one [the nature of the events we tell, for example], not the historical reconstruction.

Regarding abstractions ... our brain works in that way and it works very well: math is an outstanding and astonishing wide set of rational abstractions.
 

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