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Historians across BordersWriting American History in a Global Age$
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Nicolas Barreyre, Michael Heale, Stephen Tuck, and Cecile Vidal

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279278

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279278.001.0001

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Straddling Intellectual Worlds

Straddling Intellectual Worlds

Positionality and the Writing of American History

(p.75) Chapter 4 Straddling Intellectual Worlds
Historians across Borders

Nicolas Barreyre

Manfred Berg

Simon Middleton

University of California Press

This chapter questions the continued value of the outsider/insider binary (U.S. history written by “foreigners”) by looking at the various intellectual milieus that historians of the United States in Europe deal with in their professional and daily lives, as well as by reflecting on the role of “positionality” in historical writing. It approaches U.S. history as a common field (comprehending both American and non-American scholars) that intersects with a range of other audiences that scholars may engage with, depending on their location in the field. It examines a number of conventions that are taken for granted (for example, in writing style) for clues such habits may reveal about the distinctions that shape European historians’ exercises in American history. It also addresses the problem of language, which is a larger question than translation alone. For example, no complete American history can be written without considerable attention to race, but when this concept is translated into European languages, it carries differing connotations, and these, in turn, can affect the way history is written.

Keywords:   positionality, location, audiences, conventions, language, translation, internationalization

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