Anthropology Meets History

Investigating European Societies

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
Christian Giordano University of Fribourg

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This article analyses the difficult relation between anthropology and history. The point, therefore, is to show how anthropology conceptualises the past differently from history as a discipline. Beginning with the differences between anthropology and history in terms of the concept of time, the article highlights that while for history time is concrete, objective and exogenous to human beings, for anthropology it is characterised by its being condensed, collectively subjective and endogenous. By analyzing actual examples, the article shows that the anthropologist is not interested in the past per se, but rather in the past as a dimension of the present. Accordingly, actualised, revised and manipulated history as well as the role of the past in the present need to be taken into account. Consequently, history and the past have their own specific efficiency because they are also a form of knowledge and social resource mobilised by single individuals or groups to find their bearings and act accordingly in the present and likewise to plan the future.

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Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

(formerly: Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures)