Another History is Possible

In a very simple sense, this website is a space for a Head of History to share resources with my students and colleagues. I do not claim ownership to any of the materials. Indeed for the learning resources I have produced I would encourage as many people to use them as is possible.

I remain eternally grateful to the labour of Abdul Mohamud and Robin Whitburn as part of Justice to History and countless other teachers who have helped me develop.

Another history is possible. What does that mean?

  1. Other Histories

In a literal sense, the other history that this website will focus upon is what euphemistically gets called ‘non-traditional’ histories. In fact these histories have great traditions, have drawn great debate from great historians who have provided great insights. Most just haven’t been made cannon in compulsory UK education.

2. Another way of working with the Archive

Historians ‘from below’ have given different names to this – most pithily – how do we let the subaltern speak? How do we allow the nameless numbers of history to become names with stories to tell?

Michel – Rolph Trouillot accurately pointed to the way the archive is itself a product of who is allowed to speak and who is silenced. The archive is therefore itself an interpretation of the past that silences so many lived experiences. This is not an abstract point – consider the lives of these 80 nameless rebels. Their lives erased in 1865 upon Governor Eyre’s brutal orders and their deaths then recorded by British Army Officer Alexander Dudgeon Gulland. How and when do they they speak in the classroom?

This site hopes to help teachers go against the grain, in any small way, and address those silences in the classroom.

3. Another Future

This is not a relativist claim to say that we can change the past merely by telling a different story. The discipline of history is rightfully rigorous and previous injustices cannot be short-circuited simply by some sort of favourable selection of sources.

My claim is in fact precisely the opposite. That for too long our histories have been short-circuited in the name of projects aimed at dealing with a post-colonial melancholia. These projects bear more resemblance to cognitive behavioural therapy than they do to rigorous historical practice.

How else does anyone with even a grasp of our history explain this?

As American historian Thomas C. Holt put it in his brilliant 1995 essay – “the burden of our history is great; the burden of our history-making is all the greater.”

The burden of our history is great; the burden of our history-making is all the greater.

Thomas C. Holt (1995)

The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.”

Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1995)

race is colonialism speaking, in idioms whose diversity reflects the variety of unequal relationships into which Europeans have co-opted conquered populations.

Patrick Wolfe (2016)

What does this look like in practice?

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