Ingar Kaldal: Alltagsgeschichte and Microhistory. A short presentation.

List of content (in norwegian). Back to my home page, here
Norwegian presentation of the project, here

This is a short presentation of a project about recent trends within german social and cultural history. It was finished during visits at different German institutes in 1992-1993, financiated by the Ruhrgas-fund for historians. A book and a few articles has been written from the project, but only in norwegian. The book can be bought directly from the Dept. for History in Trondheim for 100 Nkr.

There has been much current debate on the international history scene on just where social history is heading. Well-known catch words are historical anthropology and "new cultural history". This project represents an attempt at an historical analysis of what is happening in parallel fields of research in Germany, where "Alltagsgeschichte" became a popular rallying-cry starting about the end of the 1970's.

While the history of mentalities gained quick popularity in France, German social History was influenced to a far greater degree by structural history oriented on social science. This was also true of the "Gesellschaftshistorische" movement dominant at the close of the 1960's. The popularity of "Alltagsgeschichte" towards the end of the 1970's must be seen as relative to several aspects. In one sence it represented a reaction to to the use of theories common in social science. In another sense it expressed growing scepticism toward modernization, concerning both the use of modernization theory in historical analyses and critical aspects of society that were generally regarded as "modernity".

Emphasis is put here on clarifying the development of different programmes in the field: Lutz Niethammer has not only been a leading light of German oral history. Of more interest is his programme for "Erfahrungsgeschichte" and communicative historical science. Alf Lüdtke's "Eigensinn"-perspective is another way of analyses in the field. A third alternative i represented by Hans Medick. His programme goes farthest in developing an historical analyses allowing the complex, compound and ambiguous in the cultural processes in the history to remain just that. The differences between concepts within the field become even more apparent when considering current debate withing German "Volkskunde", in the opposition between Wolfgang Kaschuba and Carola Lipp. Lipp comments the "Eigensinn"-concept as a negative version of wellknown ways of thinking about modernization.

The book from the project also presents a lot of examples from Alltagsgeschichte and german micro history. One of them is the vast Göttingen-project, involved since the 1970's in studies of protoindustrial environments in southern German villages. Another one is Barbara Duden's analyses of the way in which new conceptions of physical illness arose towards the end of the 18th century, based on a study of unique records of male specialists in womens' diseases.

If you want to know more about the project, please contact me at my e-mail-address: