How does the European historiographical apparatus, or historicism, translate to a non-European context such as that of India? Drawing on Dipesh Chakrabarty's work The Calling of History, this essay suggests that instead of providing a rigid definition of “non-European” historicism, we should attempt to salvage its Indian and non-European specificity. The dense correspondence that Chakrabarty uncovered allows us to examine the interpersonal and noninstitutional process by which Indian historiography emerged during the first half of the twentieth century. The Calling of History exposes how a set of balances, such as the one between “public” and “cloistered” life of the historical discipline, guaranteed the status of historical veracity as a major value. Reflecting on this process from a Middle Eastern standpoint, this essay argues that non-European historicism was so vulnerable that its collapse resulted in a chronic inability to access and process the past, thus ushering in a traumatic mode of ahistorical existence.
Research Article| August 01 2016
Yoav Di-Capua; The Messy Career of Historicism: Reflections from the Middle East. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2016; 36 (2): 337–344. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-3603418
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