Comparative Theory Essay: Ethnohistory And The Postcolonial Perspective

1421 words - 6 pages

In The Houses of History, selected and introduced by Anna Green and Kathleen Troup, the different theories of the twentieth century are broken down and specifics are introduced about each theory. Historians use these theories to study certain aspects of history and to be able to compare two theories to each other and the problems each theory addresses must be identified. With all aspects of history having some sort of connection, it would be better to take a holistic approach to the history of different eras. As we first read in Arnold earlier in the semester, "History is above all else an argument (Arnold 13)." Therefore, to compare two theories of history, the argument must begin with the facts of the theory and what that theory is used for, and then argue where it might have flaws or not connect history together.
Beginning with ethnohistory, which includes anthropology, the beginnings of the different studies of mankind are introduced, when the book then jumps to a postcolonial perspective the views of the future are pointed to the mistakes of the past. Each theory has a purpose to explaining the views and studies of different historians around the world. This essay will compare my views on ethnohistory combined with anthropology versus the views of postcolonial history. To start with anthropology, and outlining the timelines of mankind, one can start cumulating the facts around how humans have evolved throughout hundreds and thousands of years. Using anthropology as a theory of history is the ability to understand the social and cultural behaviors that connect the concept of human culture. As historians there are many benefits from using anthropology, studying the behaviors of human kind and all of its variations is a true example of evolution through time. These examples are socially relative and also culturally relative, helping to create a picture of the affects of human behavior caused by social and cultural societies. As more historians used the theory of anthropology, the theory itself began to have offspring ideas. British historians Emile Durkheim and Keith Thomas led the way in the twentieth century as historian who developed more influences based on anthropology. " For Durkheim, study of the social group or community took precedence over the individual. He believed that human behavior is fundamentally shaped by the moral, religious and social society in which the individual lives (Green, Troup 173)." In other words, the way Durkheim viewed anthropology in the twentieth century was society as a whole. His study was based on large groups of people rather than just a single person. Keith Thomas drew a different view with anthropology; he wanted to lead anthropologist into an untapped resource within the studies of the development of mankind. Thomas ideas for anthropology were to lead historians into more in depth findings about people's everyday lives. Thomas idea was, "...anthropology was to become immensely influential in...

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