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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The data dictate the method. American practitioners of the new cultural history, who were engaged mircohistory their own revolt against large-scale social history, latched onto the method as a way of recovering individual agency in history. It remains very difficult to define, precisely because it is not a coherent set of practices or methods. Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence. The approach has most often been likened to the detective’s search for clues at the scene of a crime, in jicrohistory evidence such as fingerprints rather than the principle of human nature or the larger social conditions that helped create the environment for the crime is used to discover the identity of a particular guilty individual.

Microhistory’s apparent inability to account for gkovanni, however, is also the result of conceptual limitations.

Microhistory – Wikipedia

While there have certainly been cases of interpretive excess, these have been limited to a few works, and serve more as a reminder of the dangers involved than as a condemnation of the method. The most obvious lay in the difference between ethnographic fieldwork and archival history: In many ways such an approach more closely mimics the anthropological models on which microhistory was based.

The obvious danger of such an approach, however, is that the scholar possesses a potentially uncomfortable degree of latitude in deciding what things mean in different situations, and can assign value and meaning to different human behaviors that they may not possess. Ginzburg and Poni, in their Quaderni Storici article “Il nome e il come” translated by Edward Muir as “The Name and the Game” argued that the fundamental unit of analysis for the microhistorian should be people’s names, since these may be traced, compared, and confirmed through a wide variety of archival sources, including tax records, birth registers, notarial contracts, and court cases.

Lfvi a similar trove of documents, the nominative approach proposed by the microhistorians would have been inconceivable. Most of us are or gjovanni be fully aware of the fact, that historical accounts are addressed primarily to other historians de Certeau glovanni, pp. The data dictate the analytical method to be employed, not the other way around. Historical society Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo.


I do not want to pretend that there is an agreement concerning what this microhistorical perspective means and what it implies. His argument, therefore, focuses on the ways in which culture can be described by the historian, not the mechanisms through which social change eventually occurs. The Italian microhistorians’ interest in the historic variations in people’s lived experience of the world was heavily influenced by developments in cultural anthropology in the s and s. In quantitative analyses of historical phenomena the historian looks for statistically significant correlations microhkstory provide empirical giobanni of how most people acted in particular situations.


We are facing otherness in situations when we react like this: Sigurdur Gylfi Magnusson www. For them the connection is more than a grammatical genitive case.

Microhistory originally developed in Italy in the s. The Story of an Exorcist. 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. But while the fame of the individuals changed, the method did not.

Thus it was the No Storici group that largely established the terms of debate and the boundaries of the method microhisttory an early date, and without them microhistory might not have become a distinct practice. But microhistorg is what we do actually, if we take microhistory as a method. Geertz was convinced that universal rules, whatever their apparent utility as explanatory tools, were flawed, because every system microhitory social exchange is unique.

Another defense of the method mounted by the Quaderni Storici group attacked the critics through the quantitative methods they often favored. Taken individually, these scraps of evidence do not seem to amount to much. A perspective, unlike a method, does mocrohistory require application. While the absence of a consistent method has hampered attempts to provide a pat definition of microhistory, it has also allowed for an extremely microhistry variety of studies to be conducted under its banner.

Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. See also other articles in this section. The work of Clifford Geertz was particularly important to the emergence of microhistory, even if some of the microhistorians, Giovanni Levi in particular, had reservations about Geertz’s method. Translated by Martin Ryle and Kate Soper.


In the American Historical Review published a debate between Robert Finlay and Natalie Zemon Davis concerning her well-known microhistory, The Return of Martin Guerre, which analyzed the trial of a sixteenth-century French peasant accused of posing as someone else for the purpose of wrongfully claiming the other man’s wife and property.

Geertz had popularized a concept of culture as a system of symbols that permits individuals to relate to and comprehend the external world.

I cannot give here an adequate answer to these questions, only intend to note that if they do so,the identification of a distinct microhistorical method or of a certain number of appropriate methods would be much more harder.

Ginzburg first assembled Menocchio’s often conflicting testimony before the inquisition in which he tried to explain to his accusers why he held beliefs that seemed at odds with catholic orthodoxy, including the somewhat odd notion that God had created the world in the same way as peasants made cheese.

When they think of themselves, they forget about microhistorical perspective and they rather see themselves as method-oriented experts, as chefs cooking from standard recipes and cook-books.

It can be disturbing only for those who would like to define microhistory. This is what I have tried to show in the earlier pages.

Giovanni Levi –

Her conclusions were also justified, she claimed, because the chronicles she had used as her sources already contained significant distortions and interpretations of the events.

His method was aimed explicitly at recovering the unique features of different cultures and showing how these provide the foundations for group organization, not some supposedly universal feature of human behavior such as rational choice or self-interest. Neverthless, we have no reasons to be desperate.

In addition,methodology-talk concerning microhistories is in contradiction with the perspective itself.

The most important method involved the reduction of the scale of historical investigation to accurately identifiable individuals. And what we sacrifice in this case is being experimental. Just another non-exclusive microhistory-issue.

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