Small Worlds: Method, Meaning, and Narrative in Microhistory

Overview

Growing unease with grand theories of modernization and global integration brought twelve scholars from four disciplines to the School for Advanced Research for an experiment with the research genre known as microhistory. These authors now call for a return to narrative, detailed analysis on a small scale, and the search for unforeseen meanings embedded in cases. The essential feature of this perspective is a search for significance in the microcosm, the large lessons discovered in small worlds. Urging the ...
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Overview

Growing unease with grand theories of modernization and global integration brought twelve scholars from four disciplines to the School for Advanced Research for an experiment with the research genre known as microhistory. These authors now call for a return to narrative, detailed analysis on a small scale, and the search for unforeseen meanings embedded in cases. The essential feature of this perspective is a search for significance in the microcosm, the large lessons discovered in small worlds. Urging the recognition of potential commonalities among archaeology, history, sociology, and anthropology, the authors propose that historical interpretation should move freely across disciplines, historical study should be held up to the present, and individual lives should be understood as the intersection of biography and history. The authors develop these themes in a kaleidoscope of places and periods-West Africa, the Yucatan peninsula, Italy, Argentina, California, Brazil, Virginia, and Boston, among others. They illuminate discrete places, people, and processes through which both the intimacy of lived experience and the more distant forces that shaped their days can be viewed simultaneously.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

1 Introduction John Walton Walton, John James F. Brooks Brooks, James F. Christopher R. N. DeCorse DeCorse, Christopher R. N. 3

Pt. I Microhistory: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Concerns

2 Lived Hegemonies and Biographical Fragments: Microsteps toward a Counterhistory of the Spanish Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy Richard Maddox Maddox, Richard 15

3 The Hidden Weight of the Past: A Microhistory of a Failed Social Movement Group Kathleen Blee Blee, Kathleen 37

4 To Write Liberation: Time, History, and Hope in Yucatan Paul K. Eiss Eiss, Paul K. 53

5 Varied Pasts: History, Oral Tradition, and Archaeology on the Mina Coast Christopher R. N. DeCorse DeCorse, Christopher R. N. 77

Pt. II Shifting Lenses, Embedded Scales: Event, Biography, and Landscape

6 Arson, Social Control, and Popular Justice in the American West: The Uses of Microhistory John Walton Walton, John 97

7 The Floating Island: Anachronism and Paradox in the Lost Colony Michael Harkin Harkin, Michael 121

8 Biography as Microhistory, Photography as Microhistory: Documentary Photographer Dorothea Lange as Subject and Agent of Microhistory Linda Gordon Gordon, Linda 145

9 "Above Vulgar Economy": The Intersection of Historical Archaeology and Microhistory in Writing Archaeological Biographies of Two New England Merchants Mary C. Beaudry Beaudry, Mary C. 173

10 What Influences Official Information? Exploring Aggregate Microhistories of the Catasto of 1427 Rebecca Jean Emigh Emigh, Rebecca Jean 199

11 Anomalies, Clues, and Neglected Transcripts: Microhistory and Representations of the Cuban Sugar Frontier, 1820-1860 DaleTomich Tomich, Dale 225

12 Seductions and Betrayals: La frontera gauchesque, Argentine Nationalism, and the Predicaments of Hybridity James F. Brooks Brooks, James F. 247

13 Oral Traditions and Material Things: Constructing Histories of Native People in Colonial Settings Kent G. Lightfoot Lightfoot, Kent G. 265

References 289

Index 325

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