After having read ALL of Hayden White’s Metanarrative (for 664) I appreciated Burke’s suggestion that to ‘get around’ him historians simply might write an alternate ending.  A simple, yet sophisticated response to literary critics who suggest that historians need to recognize the “emplotments” of their own narratives.

What is the difference between context and structure for Burke?  At times, Burke’s analysis did not weigh the complicated nature of the “structure”, or theoretical positioning of the analyses reviewed in this work.  Because it’s not just a stylistic tension between narrative and structure, but a profoundly political choice mired in distinct world-views and circumstances.  In the end, I felt as though Burke was suggesting that the historical exercise is about entertaining; though, I know this would not be his position.

Barber and Berdan Part I


I thought tracking the definition of “ethnohistory” in the journal Ethnohistory was clever.  I was curious so I found the most up-to-date definition at their web page.  Here it is:

The journal of the American Society for Ethnohistory

Ethnohistory reflects the wide range of current scholarship inspired by anthropological and historical approaches to the human condition. Of particular interest are those analyses and interpretations that seek to make evident the experience, organization, and identities of indigenous, diasporic, and minority peoples that otherwise elude the histories and anthropologies of nations, states, and colonial empires. The journal publishes work from the disciplines of geography, literature, sociology, and archaeology, as well as anthropology and history. It welcomes theoretical and cross-cultural discussion of ethnohistorical materials and recognizes the wide range of academic disciplines.

Clearly this definition follows the trend of “expanding” its categorical borders.  From “primitives and peasantries” to “non-industrial peoples” to “ethnic peoples” to “cultures and societies in all areas of the world” to “indigenous, diasporic, and minority peoples” (current).

What does the evolution of these terms and their usages suggest about broader historiographical trends from the 50s to now?

Do you think that Barber and Berdan’s definition (page 12) is too broad when contrasted to the definition that appears on Ethnohistory website today?

Barber and Berdan’s analysis focuses on North American (heavily anthropological) ethnohistory.  What can we say about parallel (or prior) developments of “ethnohistory” in other nations/regions?