ENGC44H3 Lecture Notes - Eurocentrism, Postcolonialism, Ethnocide

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7 Dec 2013
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ACMA01H3 Lecture #3
What is History?
History: A “tricky” category
o Simple definition: a record of events that took place in the past
“The study of past events particularly in human affairs… the past
considered as a whole” (OED)
o Mediation
History comes to use via other people
It is never simply us and the raw event
o Context can shape how history is told and whose history is told
History is not an exact science
Attempts at objectivity are not always successful
“History is written by the victors
History “from above”
o A top-down structure
Looking down on events with a privileged
perspective
Liberationist Thought
o Critical philosophers and historians have started challenging “official” histories
Liberation theology and liberation philosophy
“A clear awareness of (histories of oppression) can come to se
only from a historical conspectus which emerges from below”
o Conspectus: a general survey of the subject
o Central and South America 1960s and 1970s
Enrique Dussel (“Was America Discovered or Invaded?”) is a liberation
philosopher from Argentina
Emphasizing:
Those who suffer
Those who are oppressed
Those who are victims
Those who are on the “losing” side of History
Shifting the historical focus away from the colonizers (provided us with
this history) and onto those who were colonized (could not provide us
with history for reasons: e.g. genocide)
History and the “Victors”
o The “victors” are not the only people to emerge from conflict
History often takes on the character and worlds-view of those on top
This is the “official record”
Passed down through generations
E.g. Christopher Columbus
A “hero‟s tale”
Every year, Columbus‟ “discovery” is celebrated with a holiday
in the USA
o Colonization of North America led to expansion to
Caribbean islands and central and south America
Exploitation of natural goods (e.g. mines)
Slavery, torture, death
Destruction of entire cultures
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