No outside history: Reconsidering postmodernism


Parkes, R. J. (2014). No outside history: Reconsidering postmodernism. Agora [Sungraphô], 49(3), 4-10.

PostmodernismIs Postmodernism really a threat to history? [From the Introduction]: In this paper, I want to explore the relationship between postmodernism and history. I will argue that postmodern theory, far from killing history as its critics suggest, is a profoundly historicist mode of thought that extends the gaze of the historian so nothing escapes it, not even themselves. This is its great challenge to the historian and history educator. Although it may seem a little late to be defending postmodern theory in history education, I am motivated in this task by the bad press postmodernism continues to receive, particularly whenever school curricula are brought up. While I share some of the concern shown by historians, educators, and social theorists towards aspects of cultural postmodernism, I offer a more sympathetic reading of postmodern theory (philosophical postmodernism) than is typical among historians and history educators. In particular, I will argue for the importance of recognising the complexity of postmodernism’s relationship to history, particularly the idea that nothing stands outside history, and make some brief comments regarding its implications for history educators.
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