History and Theory 34 (4):275-298 (1995)

This article traces the competing meanings of "master narrative" in current theoretical debates over history and culture. The phrase "master or meta narrative" has grown popular for describing stories which seem to assimilate different cultures into a single course of history dominated by the West. Master narrative, like its predecessors Universal History and speculative philosophy of history, has become something to avoid. But our increasingly global situations demand stories that can describe and explain the worldwide interactions of diverse cultures and communities. From this convergence--a growing wariness of global stories coupled with situations which seem to demand them--has emerged a popular new double plot of world history in which cultural differentiation and cultural homogenization go hand in hand. The development has led to some surprising homologies and contrasts among the new histories created by thinkers from Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jean-François Lyotard to James Clifford and Francis Fukuyama. But our new "postmodern" distinctions between master and local narratives have carried over the venerable antinomy of people with and without history, and the search for timeless formal principles differentiating "historical" and "nonhistorical" modes of discourse and ways of being threatens to create new varieties of essentialism
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DOI 10.2307/2505403
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Grand Narratives, Metamodernism, and Global Ethics.Andrew J. Corsa - 2018 - Cosmos and History 14 (3):241-272.

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