Historia Inmediata/ Debates

¿Es posible una historia inmediata?

It seems to me that much of this discussion surrounds an implicit but powerfully lodged hypostatism: history is simply a product and discussed as if it were a thing in itself.

No doubt one speak of histories in the sense of the books or other media produced by historians and chronists.But I do not think this is the real point in "immediate history".

Immediate history in my view is a form of praxis that is why I have called it in another missive "predictive history". Like any serious theoretical discussion the terms of engagement are directly related to the problem defined. Immediate history can be seen as a response to "dehistoricisation" of what we perceive as the present. This may be the result of media practices or a process conditioning the media we have today. But to explain what dehistoricisation means let me propose a summary definition of history as the body of practices which serve to situate and comprehend men and women in a temporal framework. This admittedly broad definition goes beyond a strictly professional definition of history and implies that although some of these practices may be professional it is not their professional character that makes them history or historical.

In this context dehistoricisation means disruption and/ or destruction of the means by which humans are able to establish a temporal framework of action (whether rooted in a past, a present, or a future). I am told or have read that there are cultures and hence languages which do not express tenses or time in the way European history does. The destruction of these cultures and languages is an active and violent form of dehistoricisation. On the other hand there are urgent matters of dehistoricisation closer to home in all those countries where the bearers of the past have been "disappeared".

For me immediate history is the response to the violent and pernicious attacks on humans as bearers of history and struggle. It is an emergent method-- like forensic anthropology-- to counteract practices which fetishise the "past" while annihilating the present. Marquez provides an excellent literary example of the challenges of immediate history and its necessity (One Hundred Years of Solitude). Given the collusion in the destruction or concealment of records and events and their witnesses, the challenge of immediate history is to develop methos which are rigourous enough to preserve humans and their dignity, including their senses of history, in the face of these physical and intellectual crimes.

In detail it means finding practices which allow meaningful statements on the basis of evidence where the existence of classical documentary evidence is withheld or has been destroyed. It means introducing methods of veracity which do not simply reinforce "conspiracy theories". Although I certainly hold many conspiracy theories to have more than a grain of truth, it is clear from my teaching experience that "conspiracy" explanations reinforce conditions of fear and powerlessness rather than helping people to constructive action. In my opinion the discussion about immediate history must therefore-- to the extent it is concerned with legitimacy-- deal with this problem or cluster of problems to which it is a response. Mit freundlichen Grüßen/ Sincerely/ Cordialement/ Atenciosemente/ Cordiali

Dr. Patrick Wilkinson
Institute for Advanced Cultural Studies Europe
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