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Contributions to Theory and Comparative History of Historiography

German and Brazilian Perspectives

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Edited By Luiz Estevam de Oliveira Fernandes, Luísa Rauter Pereira and Sérgio da Mata

This book bears witness to the tightening of bonds that has been taking place among the Brazilian and the German historiographical communities in the last years. It presents a wide array of historiographical issues by various scholars: the role played by history writing in modern processes of nation-building, Alexander von Humboldt’s indirect Brazilian experience, the humanistic and methodical legacies of 19 th century German historical thinking, current perspectives in the history of concepts, and the potentials and limits of history as a means for political education.
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The History of Concepts and the History of Historiography: a Brazilian Trajectory

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Introduction

It was quite common in the 1990s to hear young historians with a theoretical leaning complaining about the monopoly of the French school/tradition in Brazilian historiography. Rather than merely addressing the problem of the origins of that hegemony, their complaint targeted certain more precise phenomena, namely; a) the prevalence, at least in the historiography produced in the decades of the so-called era of specialization (the 1980s and 1990s), of a historical conception that left little room for theoretical problems, placing its emphasis more on empirical research and methodology; b) the lack of translations (into Portuguese) of the work of German language authors and of Brazilian researchers capable of reading their works in the original, and c) a perception that the absence of such reception jeopardized the possibility of a more theoretical approach to the historiography, given that it was impossible to ignore the long contribution made to the field in the language of Goethe.

In the last two decades, just like various other sectors of historiography in Brazil, research into the theory and history of historiography have taken the path of specialization. In this most recent history, the Brazilian Seminar on the History of Historiography (Seminário Brasileiro de História da Historiografia – SNHH) has played a highly important role as a catalyst, meeting point and showcase for an emerging, dynamic and diversified group of researchers whose works and careers have been preferentially focused on theoretical and historiographic phenomena. The success of that...

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