1. toward a history on equal terms: A discussion of provincializing europe

History and Theory 47 (1):69–84 (2008)
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Abstract

This essay is a critical discussion of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s book Provincializing Europe as well as a first sketch of a History on Equal Terms. After giving a short summary of Provincializing Europe, I first argue, against Chakrabarty, that there is no necessary connection between the discipline of history and the metanarratives of modernity. To the contrary: the founding idea of the discipline of history was a turn against such grand narratives. With his attempt to deconstruct the narratives of the European Enlightenment and of modernity, Chakrabarty therefore has to be regarded as a thinker of radical historicism rather than as a critic of the discipline of history. Second, I criticize the use of the term “modernity” in Provincializing Europe and the concept of modernity in general. Instead of a deconstruction of the discipline of history, I propose a deconstruction of the concept of modernity. This could open up the way for a History on Equal Terms situated within the discipline of history, that is, a historiography that would—just as Chakrabarty rightly demands—in principle pay the same attention to and expect relevant results from any region in the world, depending only on the focus of research

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