Manifestos for History by Susan Morgan

By Susan Morgan

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8 But the emphasis was on our similarity with the past, not on our difference from it; on continuity; and on the universality of categories such as class, race and gender. In the field of history, second-wave feminism was critical of the exclusion of women, but reticent about theorising it. What theorising there was most often invoked universal structures of patriarchy, and male domination. Even ‘gender’ quickly became synonymous, if not with ‘women’, then with an alreadyknown unequal relationship between the sexes.

The questioning of these categories that is called for by the ‘theory’ being gestured to is absent. It is as if the requirements of the discipline cancel out the potentially disruptive effects of the theory, blinding the historian to the critical tasks theory enjoins. Nowhere History-writing as critique 23 is this as clear as in the misappropriation of some of the terminology of poststructuralism, draining critical conceptual instruments of their force. Take the word ‘deconstruction’, repeatedly misused as a synonym for ‘examine’ (maybe for ‘analyse’), but with no sense of how to perform the critical interrogation of metaphysics that was the aim of Derrida’s work.

Jacques Derrida, Fichus: Discours de Francfort (Paris: Galilée, 2002). Jacques Derrida, Right to Philosophy, Vol. , trans. Jan Plug (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002): 42. Adorno, Critical Models, p. 8. Alexander Dickow provides an illuminating discussion, ‘Derrida’s Summons: Responsibility in “Mochlos”, or, the Conflict of the Faculties’, unpublished, Vol. II: Eyes of the University (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), paper, Rutgers University, December 2005, p. 14. See also Jacques Derrida, Right to Philosophy pp.

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