CFP: S-USIH Panels at the OAH Annual Meeting New Orleans, LA April 6-9, 2017 Proposals are due by April 15, 2016. For more information regarding the OAH annual conference please click here The Society for U.S. Intellectual History will present […]
[Address updated: 1/22/2016, 10 am] The Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) is currently accepting submissions for the inaugural Dorothy Ross Prize for best article in US intellectual history by an emerging scholar (defined as a current graduate student or […]
ANNUAL BOOK AWARD FOR BOOKS PUBLISHED IN 2015 SUBMISSION DEADLINE: JANUARY 31, 2016 For contact information regarding where to send copies of books, please email: email@example.com The winner of the book award will be honored at the annual conference to […]
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As I have mentioned several times before over posts in this blog (see for example this post), I have found nationalist mythology to be the most enduring and crucial challenge I face as an historian of early America. This is one of the reasons I turned to ‘settler colonialism’ as a conceptual tool, for I found no other framework that helped me wrestle with this mythic predicament. As theorist Lorenzo Veracini noted, the U.S. is, alongside Israel, one of the “two polities” in which “the very invisibility of settler colonialism is most entrenched.” And, he added, “the more it [settler colonialism] goes without saying, the better it covers its tracks.” (1) Further complicating the situation, history as a discipline both in the U.S. and in Europe historically emerged as one of the cornerstones of this nationalist mythological project. Thus, in pursuit of the historical truth, as best as we can make it at least, as historians we face an at times almost impossible task, one that requires us to transcend the premises at the center of our own discipline.
In high hopes of rattling a bit the scaffolding upon which this deep link between nationalism and history have been constructed I have recently started examining how historians of different polities have sought to challenge their nationalist mythologies. My intuition was that since the myth of exceptionalism is so central to American national mythology, a comparative examination could prove particularly subversive. In what follows I thought to relate some impressions of a book I recently finished reading as part of this agenda, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France 1870-1914 (1976) by Eugen Weber. This is not a review and far from exhaustive, only some observations that I found pertinent to my comparative agenda.