Historical Awareness & Uses of History


The historical-fiction books and movies we have all seen throughout our life is an example of our social memory. These modes of media do not always give a complete or accurate picture of the event but they do help strengthen the American culture. So, while in the recent movie ‘Dunkirk’ all the actors are white there was a minority of Indians that were used as support staff and are not shown.[1] The point of the film is not to give an accurate description of the place but an event that illustrates English fortitude and tenacity.  The Historicist, a movement in the middle of the 19th Century, and the historical awareness, argued by John Tosh, was one of understanding history from past perspectives and remove all biasedness either towards or against the past. In the next chapter Tosh brings up and discusses the question of, how history should be used. The answer to the question to me it seems it that history gives options and alternatives that give people agency but the outcomes, timetable, and method is all up for debate. It is about understanding and sympathizing with the past while also being detached and objective. History is not for discovering the future but to give people to hope of a future that could be different in all or no aspects of human life in 100 or 10 years.

[1] CHRISTOPHER WOOLF, AMULYA SHANKAR, “There were Indian troops at Dunkirk, too,” National Public Radio, last modified August 2017. Accessed September 17, 2017. http://kosu.org/post/there-were-indian-troops-dunkirk-too

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