The Crisis from Within: Historians, Theory, and the Humanities

In The Crisis from Within, Nigel Raab explores weaknesses that emerge when using interdisciplinary theories in historical analysis. With chapters that focus on knowledge, language, memory, imagining and inventing, and civil society, the analysis reveals how theoretical applications can be the source of interpretive confusion.

By drawing from a global range of historical works, Nigel Raab demonstrates how this problem concerns all historical sub-fields. From science in the seventeenth century to communism in the twentieth century, theories often overdetermine analysis in a way the historian never intended. After the enthusiastic reception of theory for over a generation, The Crisis from Within argues that the time has come to pause and think seriously about how we wish to proceed with theory.
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Biographical Note

Nigel Raab, Ph.D. (2002), is Associate Professor of Russian History at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is the author of Democracy Burning? Urban Fire Departments and the Limits of Civil Society in Late Imperial Russia, 1850-1914, (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011). He has published articles in Russian and German and is currently working on a history of natural disasters in the Soviet Union.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ... ix

Introduction ... 1

1. Historical Origins of the Interdisciplinary Approach ... 24
2. Historians and their Own Models ... 51
3. Knowledge and Its Theoretical Place in a Historical Discussion ... 75
4. Discourse as another Form of Knowledge ... 110
5. Memory and History ... 149
6. Imagining the Subjective and Inventing the Objective ... 186
7. Civil Society and the Historian ... 216

Conclusion ... 244

Selected Bibliography ... 255
Index ... 268


All interested in historical methodology, that is, specialists, professional historians, post-graduate students, undergraduate students, and academic libraries.


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