Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
To the victor go the spoils; and so does much of history it often appears. After all, history is written by the victors as is often said.
In other words, history is factual in theory only. The way it is actually recorded, written about, and changed through time makes history quite fluid.
If this idea intrigues you, then maybe you should take a look into historiography. Historiography can very simply be defined as the history of history; meaning historiography is the study of how history was written, by whom, and why it was recorded as such. Moreover, it is a look at if and how historical events have been reinterpreted by historians over time and why.
Historiography is important for a wide range of reasons. First, it helps us understand why historical events have been interpreted so differently over time. In other words, historiography helps us examine not only history itself, but also the broader overlying characteristics that shape the recording of history itself.
For instance, did a new power come to being and did its historians alter the loser's history for generations? Or maybe economic issues caused historians to look at a historical event through a different lens.
Just as critically, historiography lets us study history with a critical eye. It helps us understand what biases may have shaped the historical period. It ensures we don't blindly trust what we read from historians 10, 100, and 1,000 years ago. Simultaneously, it ensures we don't fall victim to these same mistakes some previous historians may have made.
By extension, historiography lets us dig for and get to the factual history behind the historical myth, so to speak. It gives us a way to re-interpret the biases of a historian's perspective in a more equitable manner. So long as we remain unbiased in the process, of course.
Historiography also helps generalists and specialists alike. Think of socioeconomic history, for example. To a generalist, it's important to get an overall sense of how historians viewed the various social classes and why. Perhaps some historians thought the poor were poor because of their own doing. Why? Were those historians part of the privileged class, and did they have a clear bias?
For specialists, the study of history is important for its details. How were socioeconomic factors such as income, census reports, and related numbers recorded and by whom? Do they give an accurate representation of one social group's poverty or not? Are the numbers quite literally fudged, or can they be trusted to reflect accurately the disparity between classes?
Ultimately, historiography gives us an appreciation of how factors that shape and alter the recording of history shape and alter our interpretation of it as a result.
So let's take a look at some examples of historiography.
One example of this is the way by which war is recorded. Each side remembers it differently, and even the same side may re-interpret things over time. Take, for instance, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan during World War II. At the time, U.S. historians recorded it as a necessity; other historians wrote that it was not. And over time in the United States itself, many historians have started to agree with the latter camp. It's the same historic event, but the way it has been recorded always varied depending on who was compiling the historical narrative and when.
What factors influenced this change in historical perspective? Was it newly declassified documents, a shift in social thinking, or something else? Those who study the history of history would be interested in poring over the shifting narratives to find out.
Another very good example of historiography in action is the discovery of the Americas. Who's responsible for this? Not long ago, historians would have told you it was Christopher Columbus. Then came the discovery of early Viking settlements in North America. Historians changed their tune.
So whether it's because of political, military, or nationalistic perspectives, or just a new discovery, the way historians record and describe a single event can change. The study of how and why this occurs has everything to do with historiography.
Not everything changes, of course. Some historical events and their interpretations remain consistent over time. For instance, the space race was between the United States and the Soviet Union, that military and political factors underlined it, and that it was ultimately won by the Soviets by putting the first person in space. Some things in history are more black and white than others, and thus are agreed upon by all objective historians across all nations around the world. The modern recording of events with more robust and objective means, like audio and voice recordings, helps immensely with this.
All right, let's take a moment to review what we've learned. Simply put, we learned that historiography refers to the history of history. It's the study of how historical recording and interpretations of the same events shift with time as a result of many different factors.
Historiography helps us understand that societal, political, economic, and other issues may alter the recording of history over time. So long as we don't come to it with biases of our own, it allows us to get as close to historical fact as possible. It even helps historians avoid repeating the same mistakes as their predecessors when recording their own narrative.
There are many examples of historiography. For example, studying the way historians all over the world recorded the discovery of America, and how and why this has changed over time, would be an example of historiography.
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