The development of microhistory. Einaudi “microstorie” and Quaderni Storici; Ginzburg, Giovanni Levi, Edoardo Grendi, Carlo Poni et al; history from below. ‘s and ‘s as practiced by the canonical figures Carlo Ginzburg or Giovanni. Levi. Although it is never hard to point to predecessors retrospectively, . The work of Clifford Geertz was particularly important to the emergence of microhistory, even if some of the microhistorians, Giovanni Levi in particular, had .

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We are facing otherness in situations when we react like this: In practice, it seems to be a doubtful causal relationship. In the broadest sense, they were simply trying to re-create the ways in which past people understood and reacted to social and economic structures, which, as the above examples make clear, is not always as obvious as the historian might wish. So here we stand at the crossroads again. Scholars who have been influenced by Geertz, including historians, have not recognized, according to Sewell, the extent to which these two functions of culture are different.

Our subject might appear any number of times in a well-preserved archive, as many significant events in his or her life were formally recorded. The microhistorians also objected to the increasingly popular use of quantitative methods inspired by the French Annales practitioners, the Cambridge Population Group, and American cliometricians.

Microhistory |

It is, just like our curiosities, something what we carry with us in our heads into the archives. Edited by Peter Burke. The microhistorical method mirrors this aspect of human existence, attempting to reconstruct the sometimes peculiar ways in which individuals have tried to understand the larger world from within the confines of their personal experiences. But this could only occur after the data had been collected and assembled so as to reveal the internal logic of the social system under analysis.


Geertz’s admonishment to anthropologists in the field, therefore, was to studiously avoid starting with a general theory or hypothesis, and instead to allow the accumulated data to suggest the interpretive techniques to be employed in each particular case study.

Rather, microhistry microhistorians wanted to expand the possibilities of social history by adding depth of analysis to the breadth of existing narratives.

Like Geertz, the microhistorians saw culture and social interaction as giovannl complex system of rules and meanings. In addition,methodology-talk concerning microhistories is in contradiction with the perspective itself.

micgohistory Best of all, the chain of evidence could be picked up at any point along the line, allowing us to mucrohistory outward to discover the rest. First we have to have some ideas about what we want to know, that is, about what we are curious about.

In a purely anthropological interpretation based on a highly relative understanding of rationality, the capacity to produce a symbolic language of social inversion and changing the social order might be seen as nearly the same thing. Views Read Edit View history.

Nevertheless, the general lack of synchronic analysis in most microhistories is not damning by itself. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. They just do their hiovanni in coping with documents, questions, problems, narrations and so on, without any methodological consistency, but they do it from their perspective that can be called microhistorical.

But these techniques, even if they are equally suitable, are not the same. Employing philological techniques, Ginzburg spent considerable time and care attempting to reconstruct Menocchio’s reading list based on textual clues contained in his testimony before the inquisitors. The limitation imposed by anthropology on comparative analysis has already been discussed in the context giovani Giovanni Levi’s criticism of Geertz.


Microhistory emerged, primarily in Italy, in the late s and early s, as a revolt against studies of large social groups and long, gradual historical transformations. The Enigma of Piero: In spite of the fuzziness of these words several scholars take natural that microhistory is equal with the involvement of the readers, without discussing what it means.

Geertz’s method, therefore, has two equally important dimensions. I do not want to pretend that there is an agreement concerning what this microhistorical perspective means and what it implies.

But in terms of the everyday social reality of their lives, their lived experience, their decision not to follow the market made perfect sense, for while it may not have been profitable, it helped preserve the social order. This is what I have tried to show in the earlier pages. For example, in the field of history of science, they historicize science, but when they take their own field as an object of historical study, they neglect to historicize history.

Translated by John Tedeschi and Anne Tedeschi. Not the easiest task, if possible at all.


As for the Salem Witchcraft case, Boyer and Nissenbaum are close to Levi in assuming that Salem people were motivated by economic interests, just like most of us in the present. No, I historicize historical learning itself and this is what most historians do not do.

Dealing with otherness, however, does not make a historical account microhistorical. It is about her efforts to become a part of this life. I do not think that Shusterman doubts here the possibility of private experiences, he only notices that our experiences for the most part are shared.