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Round Tables

Title
Reassessing Historical Methodology: the Value of Experience in Historical Knowledge
Session code
RT17
Date Time
Tuesday, August 23rd / 09.00-12.30
Organizers
Veronica Tozzi; Kalle Pihlainen
Place
Collegium Maius, Salon Mickiewicza
Abstract

This round table reconsiders conventional ways of conceiving the connections between historical knowledge and experience. The challenges posed to history by the recent “turn” to experience call for a rethinking of historical practices, but they also require further consideration of history’s boundaries, including its connection to popular, vernacular ways of knowing and representing the past. We hope that consideration of the nature of history from this perspective can offer new insight into the use of historical sources and methods as well as key analytical categories and conceptual frameworks. Given the ambiguous place of historical research in broader talk about the past, we hope that this will also lead to detailed investigation of the complexity of the role(s) attributed to experience and the changes that this new-found, broader compass can suggest for historical research. To this end, our round table aims to draw attention to the relations between historiography, methods and experience in their full scope and complexity. Key questions to be discussed include: How do “historical experiences” impact our attitudes to the past as researchers and as popular consumers of the past? How can reflection on the role and function of historical studies aid in redefining the relations between historiography, experience, communication and truth? Is a teachable historical epistemology that focusses on how historians establish facts, interpret evidence and represent the past enough to resolve such problems? Or, can we assume, instead, that these issues can be better understood without (primarily) appealing to conventional epistemological practices? After all, much current “history-talk” seems to increasingly rely on some idea of experience in constituting our relation to the past.