Short Tutorial Report On Bias In History With Reference To The Korean Nationalist Paradigm.

1202 words - 5 pages

History & Knowledge .Is it possible to write history without bias? I will use an example of bias from Korean History as factual basis for my discussion, consider if bias really matters and if it can be overcome.What is Cultural Bias in History?(As opposed to personal bias)Cultural bias occurs where, 'a historical inference, description, or explanation is later found to be untrue or unfair, relative to the evidence available, because of a culture wide interest in information of one kind rather than another.'(p41) The example below is an instance of cultural bias because it formed the basic and accepted academic model for the interpretation of 20th Century Korean history. (Wells; pp.191,192) McCullagh's example of cultural bias is "white male history". (p.41)An Example from Korean History.Kenneth M. Wells writes that 20th Century Korean History has been interpreted largely using a nationalist framework. This framework leaves out a vast proportion of important information that does not fall under this area.(p197) In particular, he considers the circumstances of Korean Women in the early 1900's and argues these do fit under the auspices of Nationalism but not in a conventional sense. In Korean history it has often been assumed, '...that nationalism works on behalf of all and therefore it is in everyone's interest to work on behalf of nationalism.' (p192) But for Korean women, mainly confined to the private sphere, nationalism has offered little, they were wives first and then citizens. Even more significantly the nationalist cause was a hindrance to the women's movement because debate in the public sphere was diverted to nationalist issues, gender equality was considered secondary to the important task of gaining independence (from the Japanese) and because women's activities that were not nationalistic were considered "...irrelevant, frivolous, or anti-male..." (p218) So clearly the assumption was incorrect and this is an example of bias.Can Bias be Overcome?McCullagh argues that while cultural bias can be difficult to eradicate, most personal bias can be overcome. He rejects the idea that personal bias is inherent in all historical writings and claims that it can be overcome to a large extent through, not detachment, but commitment to 'standards of rational inquiry'(p.39). He suggests that peer review (p.55) and the continual criticism and cooperation of other historians will aid historians in this respect . (p.66)While I agree with him that peer review is a good system for ensuring accuracy and tackling personal bias, I do not think that this method comes even close to completely overcoming bias. Often bias is not noticeable and it is almost impossible to write something without it. Consider this example of bias in description. McCullagh argues that in order to be fair a description must include all of the important aspects of the subject. Providing an exhaustive description of the subject is one way to do this, but he dismisses it as...

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