Cohen’s Main Points

Cohen’s Main Points

  • When it comes to history, Cohen wants everyone to realize that history is more than just facts.
  • How we have been teaching and researching history has been limited, and there seems to be a reason for this as Cohen states, “that actual experience is messy, complicated, opaque, while history (or “books”) brings order and clarity into the chaos.” (Cohen, 5)
  • Therefore Cohen is pushing for people to use perspective.
  • Even though it may not paint a pretty picture, it is important to cover all sides of the story because this all plays an important role in what took place.
  • This includes diving into understanding the experience and the event.
  • The event is important because without a certain event, there would be no experience. In this case, a drought, flood, and Western “interference” lead to the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Even though the experience differs from person to person, in the end it was their experience that lead to the movement that propelled the event.
  • “The problem basically, has to do with how we go about defining the relationship between “history” (in the sense of the history that historians write) and “reality” (in the sense of the history that people make and directly experience).” (Cohen, 4)
  • Cohen is also very keen on warning us about mythologization.
  • “historians deal in (or at least are supposed to deal in) complexity, nuance, and ambiguity, mythologizers generally operate with a one-dimensional view of the past, wrenching from the past the single characteristics or traits or patterns that are then portrayed as the essence of past reality.” (Cohen, 214)

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