Massacres and Their Historians

Recent Histories of State Violence in France and Algeria in the Twentieth Century

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Joshua Cole
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Historians cannot resist violence.* Not simply because of a voyeuristic interest in the dramatically lethal, but also because many of the most vexing questions about the writing of history converge in the crucible of violent events. Historians are attracted to the subject because they hope that it might tell them something about the fundamental problems in their discipline: questions about causality, agency, narrative, and contingency; about the readability of the past and the conclusions that one can draw about complex social phenomena from fragmentary and often one-sided bits of evidence.

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