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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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Italian Historical Writing

Italian Historical Writing

(p.333) Chapter 16 Italian Historical Writing
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Stuart Woolf

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relations between party and history in post-Fascist Italy, foregrounding Italy’s most distinctive contribution to post-war historical method—microstoria. Microhistory’s exponents have proposed a radical challenge, not only to the traditionally dominant form of writing history from the viewpoint of the state and ruling elites, but more fundamentally to the generalizing assumptions of the social sciences. Microhistorians place in doubt the basic conviction of historical positivism that political-institutional ‘facts’ constitute the subject matter of history, and that the archival documentation, subject to philologically appropriate methods, provides direct and reliable evidence. However, they are equally critical of the influence on historical interpretation of the functionalist presuppositions on which social scientists construct their theories of the normative systems that regulate societies and economies, and the macroconcepts that are deployed to explain historical change over time, such as capitalist transformation, the evolution of the modern state, progress, modernization, class, and so on.

Keywords:   post-Fascist Italy, historical method, microstoria, microhistory, social sciences, historical positivism, Italian historical writing, archival documentation

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