New cultural history

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New cultural history describes a discipline of historical studies developed in the 1980s and 1990s that deals generally with the past culture (i.e. not just art , music and literature ).

The conviction of some historians that traditional disciplines such as political, social and economic history can not be understood only the past, resulted from the structural history of a cultural change ( cultural turn ).

The starting point is the view of cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz that culture should be understood as everything that people substantiate with meaning: “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun” (man is a living being that is entangled in self-spun networks of meaning is). Accordingly, the New Cultural History examines above all the patterns of perception and interpretation of historical actors and groups of themselves and their environment and can thus include their “dreams, lofty hopes, projects” in the research.

The main discipline is ethnology (in contrast to sociology in the previously dominant social history), which does not try to compare the examined past with the conditions of the present with the help of a modernization theory , but which emphasizes and tries to emphasize the intrinsic value and independence of the earlier epoch, to grasp and understand them in their foreignness. The New Cultural History is also strongly influenced by anthropology , the history of mentality , everyday history , micro-history and gender history .

The main exponents of New Cultural History are Peter Burke , Natalie Zemon Davis , Robert Darnton , Roger Chartier and Carlo Ginzburg . Historians from the Annales School such as Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie also did important work.

See also


  • Ute Daniel , Clio in culture shock. On the current debates in historical science , in: History in Science and Education 48 (1997), pp. 195–219 and 259–278.
  • dies., Compendium of cultural history. Theories, Practice, Keywords, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  • Achim Landwehr , Stefanie Stockhorst : Introduction to European cultural history. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 2004, ISBN 3-506-71712-X .
  • Lutz Raphael : History in the Age of Extremes. Theories, methods, tendencies from 1900 to the present. Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-49472-2 .
  • Ulrich Raulff (ed.): Mentalities history. Wagenbach, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-8031-2152-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. Clifford Geertz, Thick Description. Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture, in: ders., The Interpretation of Cultures, New York 1973, pp. 3–30, here p. 5.
  2. Paul Ricoeur in conversation with Jörg Lau, The story is not a cemetery , in: The time of October 8, 1998.