When people talk about history, they talk about two kinds: the history of the past and the history of the future. But what exactly is the difference between these two? The history of the past is what we know today-the factual accounts and data that form the basis for our current knowledge of the world. On the other hand, the history of the future is what future historians will write about tomorrow. In this sense, historians are actually living in the future, writing about what happened long after it has already happened.
But when you look at both kinds of history, there are a number of similarities. Both focus on the development of man as a species, through time. Both are written history, and both give an account of how things changed. In fact, both kinds of history do a good job of describing how man began to interact with the environment, civilisations began to form, and how government and society emerged and developed over time. And both kinds of history-past and future-do a good job of telling us about the great events that shaped the man’s character and society.
In a recent documentary, titled Age of Anger, an Australian documentary maker travelled to Iraq to find out about the changing characters of history. There he filmed ordinary people throughout history, talking about their lives and times, and putting those conversations into a story that evolves as the viewer watches. What emerges from this is an interesting portrait of how human beings interact with each other and with the world around them. The film examines how war shapes human relationships, and how socio-cultural factors shape the kinds of relationships that are likely to survive and thrive in a democratic, pluralistic and democratic society. It also delves deeply into the personal lives of ordinary people, to reveal their concerns and dreams, their hopes and dreams for the future. Ultimately, the story ends with a powerful call to arms-a call that echoes through history, reminding us that history is not only a book by someone living in the present; but that we can all be publishers and curators of the past, if we choose to do so.
While it is true that historians have been controversial in the past because they have been accused of romanticizing history, the field of social science has made tremendous progress in uncovering the complexities of historical events. Researchers have uncovered many events of historical importance, such as the English Civil War and the Boer War, which were previously lost to the historians. Modern social science scholars have made great strides in understanding race and ethnicity, and the effects that race and ethnicity have on civilization. Cultural history has shown that the impact of past cultural norms can still be seen in contemporary life. Thus while the discipline of history may have many gaps to be filled, it is an important part of today’s knowledge base.
One of the most popular approaches to this question is the storytelling approach. Stories provide a valuable window to the past by allowing the narrator, usually the historian, to draw parallels between one story and another based on certain characteristics of the narration. Generally, the stories told in a historical documentary are based on those events that happened around the time frame of the narration, but sometimes a more recent event can also be used to create a narrative. If a more recent event is introduced as a narrative element, it can either contradict an earlier established narrative or can help to refresh the reader’s memory of an earlier period of history. Often a narrator will insert a story from an oral tradition as an additional way to corroborate the accuracy of their account.
As mentioned above, there are two major types of historians: those who write about history and those who write about the history. In the former category, the historian makes sure to include a personal viewpoint about the events, while the latter tends to be more statistical or sociological in nature. There are even professional historians who focus solely on one or the other. Those involved with writing about history include writers, professors, journalists, research assistants, and students.