História (São Paulo)
On-line version ISSN 1980-4369
WEINSTEIN, Barbara. History without cause? The new cultural History, the grand narrative and the postcolonial dilemma. História [online]. 2003, vol.22, n.2, pp. 185-210. ISSN 1980-4369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-90742003000200011.
This article examines the decline of grand narratives in the North American historiography with the rise of the new cultural history. The influence of cultural anthropology - especially the work of Clifford Geertz - has resulted in a preference for microhistory and the eclipse of causation and explanation. At the same time, many postmodern historians continue to refer (though not explicitly) to a Eurocentric narrative of the transition to modernity. In response, criticism of Eurocentrism-the impulse to "provincialize Europe"-has come from two tendencies. One is the new world history, whose proponents are rethinking the grand narratives but with rather traditional methods. The other is postcolonial theory, exemplified by Dipesh Chakrabarty. This last author, although an incisive critic of Eurocentric historiography, does not manage to offer alternatives because he rejects all "historicist" narratives. In contrast, Steven Feierman, a historian of Africa, insists on the necessity of constructing new grand narratives that will provide new points of reference and a way of exiting from the postcolonial dilemma.
Keywords : microhistory; narratives; postcolonial period.