Earlier this week, a cool Twitter thread happened, started by @_Varsha_Venkat’s query to historians about any pivotal, paradigm-shifting (for them) books they’d read
There are facts, and there are historical facts, E.H. Carr reminded us years ago. Fact: lots of people crossed the Rubicon. Historical fact: Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BCE. A fact is embedded within a historical context–or set of contexts–that gives it historical significance and meaning. So when does a plain old “fact” rise to the level of “historical fact?” The short answer: when a historian decides it does. The fact and its context acquire historical meaning in retrospect, as they are recovered, interpreted, and presented by the historian. Caesar crossing the Rubicon is important if you care about Caesar and the developments with Rome that came out of his decision to move south out of the alps. Facts happened. Historical facts happened, but then someone asked of them, “so what?” That’s it, and that’s all.
Continue reading “Objective History is Impossible. And That’s a Fact.”
After a couple of good Twitter conversations about my idea of “auditory imperialism,” with good questions that really made me think why I used “auditory” instead of maybe “discourse” or “linguistic” imperialism, I feel like I want to add more to my earlier post. So consider this post an addendum, in which I aim to be clearer on my choice of words (and in an argument that dives so deeply into the use of language, this seems important).
Los Leones, Colorado, was the site of a longstanding Mexican settlement in the upper Rio Grande Valley, until it disappeared from the map in the 1870s. The town itself remained, physically at least, but when this area became part of of the US in the 1848 Mexican Cession, Anglo settlers moved into the region. After the discovery of gold near Pike’s Peak in 1858, immigration increased exponentially. In Los Leones, Fred Walsen opened a shop on the central plaza, made a lot of money, bought more real estate, started an Elks Lodge, built a Victorian-style house, and had the town renamed Walsenburg. So Los Leones and what it was became Walsenburg–and everything Walsenburg was instead.