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The Role of Historiography in History Studies

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History is an account written in a narrative form. It is used to examine and analyze past events while Historiography is a combination of a lot of historical work on a specific matter. Thus, historiography is the account of history, especially after the critical examination of different sources and by picking out selective details and portions from renowned authentic sources/historians and by writing it down like a story or narrative so that people can read and analyze different perspectives critically. In other words, it is the history of history. Historiographical essays are basically written about one particular issue. We are able to see things from different perspectives which are sometimes conflicting, and it eventually shapes our own way of understanding of the situation.

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In modern days, historiographers aim to recreate an already written record of human activities and to understand it in a better way. The methods of historians are quite recent, and gained popularity and recognition in the late 18th and 19th century. During this time was when the subject of history actually rose as a proper academic profession and people started writing about all sorts of subjects like science. It is thus an assumption that keeping records of events in history is an inevitable human trait and activity. It is because before this time, history was never a significant subject for humans for education or any other purpose for that matter, apart from texts and records based on subjects like philosophy, religion or other arts like poetry.

Historiographers ask many questions. They question the identity and credibility of the writer and also consider what particular agenda they have or could possibly have. They also try to analyze the possibility of accuracy of the writer or historian considering where they come from or where they were when they made their observations or accounts. They also need to check if any personal trait of the historian could be impacting their perspective or agenda, e.g. their gender, age, sexual orientation, nationalism or political ideologies or any other belief which could be contributing unconsciously. Furthermore, it is important to note what their primary and secondary sources of information were and if they could also be altering their perspective in any way. Lastly, it is essential to ensure that the literature is free from any prejudice i.e. if the historian has missed out any other significant details of the situation and that if it’s creating a feeling of biasedness for the reader.

It is perhaps evident that an underlying sentiment of a historiographer is skepticism. It is because of a well-known and accepted opinion that historians actually do have a certain level of biasedness or a particular agenda behind their work and there is definitely a chance that their method of interpretation or sources selected for information could have deeper intentions or to prove any certain pre-existing notions in society. Therefore, history as a subject is never in essence, “objective”, but is instead an amalgamation of the historian’s beliefs. The only objective portion can be the dates, events, etc. and is then left completely on the historian how they perceive or interpret those facts in their minds and in their writings. So when we read a certain piece of literature by a historian, we are in fact reading an interpretation of events and facts by one single person. It is a historiographer’s job to collect these interpretations from historians and analyze the situation based on them.

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Storytelling has been around for as long as humans have existed. It is a very effective form of communication and by narrating events, they get passed on to the future generations. I believe that an effective education system would consist of a formal and systematic study of historical text and methods of historiography so that we would all learn how to critically analyze a particular situation ourselves instead of relying on one piece of literature about a certain issue. The study of history through historiography is an effective way to develop our own opinion about the world and our heritage.

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