History Made Conscious

History Made Conscious:Politics of Knowledge, Politics of the Past

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How History has changed in the half-century since the 1960s

During the last fifty years, the writing of history underwent two massive transformations. First, powered by Marxism and other materialist sociologies, the great social history wave instated the value of social explanation. Then, responding to new theoretical debates, the cultural turn upset many of those freshly earned certainties. Each challenge was profoundly informed by politics - from issues of class, gender, and race to those of identity, empire, and the postcolonial. The resulting controversies brought historians radically changed possibilities - expanding subject matters, unfamiliar approaches, greater openness to theory and other disciplines, a new place in the public culture. History Made Conscious offers snapshots of a discipline continuously rethinking its charge. How might we understand "the social" and "the cultural" together? How do we collaborate most fruitfully across disciplines? If we take theory seriously, how does that change what historians do? How should we think differently about politics?


  • There is no better guide to the debates over politics and history writing in our times than Geoff Eley. His deep knowledge of US, British and German historiography enables him to make a compelling case that different questions demand different theories.

    Catherine Hall
  • In History Made Conscious, Geoff Eley covers great sweeps of the history of history since the 1960s. His work is marked by insightful observations on the circumstance which have sparked shifts in emphasis and a stimulating openness to influences from myriad intellectual currents, including the Marxist new left, feminism, cultural studies and ant-imperialism.

    Sheila Rowbotham
  • History cannot but benefit from entering into dialogue with other disciplines and confronting the challenges of politics. Permanently putting itself into question is the key to its renewal and vibrancy. Nearly two decades since A Crooked Line, Geoff Eley unveils the complex relationship between historical studies and politics. Global in scope, critical and nuanced in spirit, and illuminating from one end to the other, History Made Conscious is indispensable reading for anyone interested not only in the past, but also in the way history is written and interpreted in our time.

    Enzo Traverso