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History after HobsbawmWriting the Past for the Twenty-First Century$
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John H. Arnold, Matthew Hilton, and Jan Rüger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198768784.001.0001

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A Visit to the Dead

A Visit to the Dead

Genealogy and the Historian

(p.292) 16 A Visit to the Dead
History after Hobsbawm

Alison Light

Oxford University Press

What can university historians learn from the recent surge in the pursuit of family history? In following their own enthusiasms, family historians often play fast and loose with conventional periodizations and forms of narrative history, making instead their own emotional connections and personal links across time; they individualize homogenizing categories of class, disaggregating group identities, and they cheerfully cross disciplinary boundaries, asking moral and metaphysical as well as political questions about the place of the dead in our memories and cultures. This chapter explores the potential that family history has, not only to revitalize the histories of the working classes, but to make us think about the limits, forms, and purposes of writing history.

Keywords:   family history, memory, class, culture, narrative history

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