The social function of historical knowledge and scholarly history writing in the 21st century
In the 21st century historiography remains epistemologically diverse like no other discipline in the social sciences and humanities. Theoretically uninformed, often nationalist, and objectivist (reconstructionist) narrative historians coexist with constructionist and deconstructionist historians who work with social theories and conduct critical analyses within the same institutional frames of regional or national historiographies. In spite of decades of intense plausible criticism – at least in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe – the national/nationalist history writing based on rather naïve objectivist epistemology remains influential and forms an important, if not dominant, part of respective national historiographies. The present paper suggests that there are several factors of the lasting reproduction and even thriving of the obsolete epistemological positions that traditional, narrative national/nationalist historiographies are based on. These might be categorized as cognitive, social, and institutional in their nature. The paper analyses particularly the social purpose of the knowledge about the past and the social functions of institutionalized professional history writing. National histories play an important part in the politics of memory and identity; they provide a historical dimension to the ideal (imagined) national community, they also serve as legitimizing or delegitimizing narratives – these functionalities require a strongly objectivist (naïve) epistemology. In fact, the epistemological points of departure of the traditional narrative national/nationalist historians are very similar to the intuitive “pre-cognitive” theories of the past shared by most ordinary people. Both are based on the idea that the past can be narrated in the form of one true story. The paper comes to the conclusion that historiographies – at least in the Central and Eastern European countries – are formatively influenced by social determinants coming from outside the discipline to a much larger extent that most historians are ready to admit.
Key words: Social function of history. Historiography. Abuse of history. Legitimization through history. Epistemology of historiography.
The constructivist understanding of history and its ethical dimension
The author of the article introduces Hayden White’s, Frank Ankersmit’s, and Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen’s constructivist understanding of history. He contrasts their understandings of history with the traditional understanding, which supposes direct correspondence of historical work to the past. In his presentations of constructivist thought, he points out their emphasis on legitimate possibilities of different methods of construction and ways of presentation, which result in different historical representations of historical events. Differences among historical representations of the past can also be related to the historian’s choice of different constructive methods and also the involvement of his/her preferred moral and political values. These constructivist understandings of history, with the deeper analysis of process writing, incite the historian to deeper ethical self awareness of his/her work.
Key words: Constructivism. Plurality. Values. Historical work. Past.
Silva Bereg. A Royal Forest in Medieval Hungary
The author of this study is concerned with researching the Bereg royal estate, which formed part of the frontier regions of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. In the 11th century Bereg belonged to the great frontier county of Boržava, but formed an independent territory within it. A separate county organization under noble control was established in it only later. Its centre was a royal manor, where the kings of Hungary settled people of German origin in the first half of the 13th century. Its importance mainly lay in the fact that it was a dynastic property of the House of Arpád at least from the 11th century. It was a part of the Carpathian mountains dominated by forests. Members of the Arpád dynasty often went there to hunt. In Western Europe such properties were known as forestes and the prerogatives of the monarch prevailed there. It is very probable that forest properties of the dynasty including Bereg were also protected by special rights of the monarch in the Kingdom of Hungary. According to all the evidence, Bereg was a royal forest where members of the Arpád dynasty hunted, and it had an internal organization similar to that known from Western Europe.
Key words: Kingdom of Hungary. House of Arpád. Frontier region. Bereg. Ugoča. Royal forest. Hunting. Dynastic property. Comitatus and districtus. Comes and procurator.
Social and health care in the Kingdom of Hungary in the first half of the 19th century
The study is concerned with the changes in social and health care in the Kingdom of Hungary in the first half of the 19th century. In this period social care became more systematic and was gradually separated from health care. Apart from town administrations and religious institutions, charitable societies began to significantly contribute to charitable activities. Under the influence of the central government, local authorities began to devote increased attention to such categories of dependent people as the mentally ill, single mothers and illegitimate children, who had previously been scorned or punished by society. Educational institutions for deaf-mute and blind children were a new element on the regional level.
Key words: Kingdom of Hungary. 19th century. Social care. Health care.
«La situation n’est pas encore critique... » Les problèmes de contrôle de la Slovaquie dans la correspondance Markovič – Beneš – Šrobár (février – mai 1919)
(«The situation is not yet critical… » The problems of controlling Slovakia in the correspondence of Markovič – Beneš – Šrobár (February–May 1919))
The study analyses how the prevailing situation in Slovakia during the first months of 1919 was reported in part of the official or more informal correspondence between Ivan Markovič and Vavro Šrobár on the one hand and Edvard Beneš on the other.
Some specific material problems occurred and the Czechoslovak authorities faced the reluctance of part of the civilian population. They also had to cope with the Italian military mission that was widely considered unreliable and Hungarian-leaning.
The core of the correspondence is made up of considerations on the material and political uncertainties arising from the lasting shortages, the weakness of the nascent Czechoslovak apparatus and the latter’s difficulties stabilizing the situation in the whole region (and more specifically in some counties). As the weeks went by, the importance of a final decision regarding the borders with Hungary was firmly underlined, while the Slovak authorities were poorly informed on the overall diplomatic and political situation in Paris. Meanwhile, Slovak political Catholicism remained ambiguous and led agitation challenging and potentially weakening the Czechoslovak authorities. Markovič’s correspondence expresses the instability of the Czechoslovak authorities’ positions, shifting between partial improvements and lasting difficulties. At the end of April 1919, the overall situation remained precarious.
Keywords: Ivan Markovič. Vavro Šrobár. MPS. Italian military mission. Slovak political Catholicism.
The Tripartite Commission and the Czechoslovak monetary gold
The study considers questions related to the functioning of the Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Gold Reserves created by France, the USA and Great Britain in 1946. Its role was to verify and distribute the gold reserves of 10 European countries stolen by Germany during the Second World War. One of the recipients was Czechoslovakia, which lost more than 45 tons of gold reserves in 1939–1940. The study is directed towards the marathon of talks between the commission and Czechoslovakia in the period 1947–1952, which finally led to recognition of the Czechoslovak claim to a share of the gold. However, this was blocked by pressure from the USA and it was eventually physically returned only in 1982.
Key words: Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold. Monetary Gold of Czechoslovakia. Illegal transfer to the Reichsbank. National Bank of Czechoslovakia. Slovak National Bank.
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