Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past

Regazzoni L (2022)
History and Theory 61(2): 242–268.

Zeitschriftenaufsatz | Veröffentlicht | Englisch
 
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Abstract / Bemerkung
This article examines the emergence of a new epistemic value that was attributed to remnants of the past during the broad debate on historical evidence in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the unintentionality of the testimony. Beginning in the early modern period, growing awareness of the partiality of historical literacy narratives regarded as intentional testimonies as well as growing interest in nonwritten pasts have led to the consideration of other kinds of relics, which have been seen as unwitting and indirect carriers of information about the past. Material and iconographic remains, languages and oral traditions, costumes, and superstitious practices gained currency as "neutral" and "authentic" testimonies of times past. This process is accessed by analyzing the historical evidence par excellence in eighteenth-century France: the monument as material and immaterial remains. Over the course of this period, evidence underwent impressive semantic enhancement and became a polysemic epistemological object. At the time, the term "monument" referred to an intentional mark designed for and entrusted to the future and to unwitting or involuntary evidence of the past, evidence that was later invested with historical value not originally intended by its maker. Although the nineteenth century saw the term "monument" lose its meaning as an unwitting trace of the past, what has survived is the epistemic value of an unintentionality of testimonies, albeit under other conceptual guises such as "remnants," "witnesses in spite of themselves," "traces," and "clues." What, then, is the usefulness of still imagining unintentionality today for the practice of research and for historical understanding?
Stichworte
epistemology of evidence; epistemic value; unintentionality/intentionality; skepticism; material/immaterial monument; France
Erscheinungsjahr
2022
Zeitschriftentitel
History and Theory
Band
61
Ausgabe
2
Seite(n)
242–268
ISSN
0018-2656
eISSN
1468-2303
Page URI
https://pub.uni-bielefeld.de/record/2959723

Zitieren

Regazzoni L. Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past. History and Theory. 2022;61(2):242–268.
Regazzoni, L. (2022). Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past. History and Theory, 61(2), 242–268. https://doi.org/10.1111/hith.12259
Regazzoni, Lisa. 2022. “Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past”. History and Theory 61 (2): 242–268.
Regazzoni, L. (2022). Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past. History and Theory 61, 242–268.
Regazzoni, L., 2022. Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past. History and Theory, 61(2), p 242–268.
L. Regazzoni, “Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past”, History and Theory, vol. 61, 2022, pp. 242–268.
Regazzoni, L.: Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past. History and Theory. 61, 242–268 (2022).
Regazzoni, Lisa. “Unintentional Monuments, or the Materializing of an Open Past”. History and Theory 61.2 (2022): 242–268.
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