History and Theory 35 (4):5-22 (1996)

Intercultural comparative historiography raises fundamental methodological problems: Is there any ground for comparison beyond the peculiarities and differences of cultures to be compared? One must avoid taking the Western cultural tradition of historical thinking as the basis for the comparison. Therefore one has to conceptualize the theoretical grounds for comparison and explicate elements of historical thinking which operate in every culture. Then cultural differences in historiography can be analyzed as peculiar constellations of these elements. In order to develop this comparative groundwork, one has to start with some fundamental considerations about historical memory as the universal cultural means of orienting human practical life in its temporal dimensions. On this foundation one has to erect a theory of historical consciousness and its constitutive factors, procedures, and functions. In a systematized form the relationship of these elements can be used to identify the varieties of historical thinking in different contexts over time. This approach has as one objective an intercultural exchange of knowledge about history as a medium for identity-forming. It should enable the participants in this exchange to overcome the widespread logic of exclusion in favor of a more inclusive manner of historical self-understanding
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DOI 10.2307/2505441
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