The development of microhistory. Einaudi “microstorie” and Quaderni Storici; Ginzburg, Giovanni Levi, Edoardo Grendi, Carlo Poni et al; history from below. ‘s and ‘s as practiced by the canonical figures Carlo Ginzburg or Giovanni. Levi. Although it is never hard to point to predecessors retrospectively, . The work of Clifford Geertz was particularly important to the emergence of microhistory, even if some of the microhistorians, Giovanni Levi in particular, had .

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The Cheese and the Worms: Historical society Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo. Within the discipline of anthropology a certain type of relativism has the important function of guarding against ethnocentric interpretations and hierarchical rankings of different cultures.

Microhistory |

Muir, Edward, and Guido Ruggiero, eds. I think we both perceive a methodological failure, but we draw different conclusions from it. When microhistory looked so promising a generation ago, the main source of high hopes was its experimental character. Our subject might appear any number of times in a well-preserved archive, as many significant events in his or her life were formally recorded. The philological techniques and cultural model of the spread of print culture employed by Ginzburg bear little resemblance to the economic data and sociological model employed by Grendi in his study of the town of Cervo.


Applying methods require making choices beforehand. Roots of an Evidential Paradigm.

Carlo Ginzburg has written that a core principle of microhistory is making obstacles in sources, such as lacunaepart of the historical account. Finlay’s overly literal reliance on the source material constituted its own kind of distortion, Davis argued, one that microhistorical methods can at least attempt to rectify.


Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Levi argued that while such microhistorical studies may be interesting as interpretive exercises, they are of limited use as historical examples because they are ultimately imponderable and meaningless. Southern History and Folk CultureUrbana: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. Another defense of the method mounted by the Quaderni Storici group attacked the critics through the quantitative methods they often favored.

Since taking practices as methodologies means favouring applications and risking the possibility of further innovations and experiments concerning those practices, it was a regrettable mistake. Redondi’s study of Galileo, for example, used a previously unknown document from his trial to speculate that Galileo’s belief in atomism was far more troubling to his accusers than his heliocentric astronomy, because atomism potentially undermined the doctrine of transubstantiation.

It would lack the rigour of methodology, but practice would be malleable, and open to further transformations. Thus it was the Quaderni Storici group that largely established the terms of debate and the boundaries of the method from an early date, and without them microhistory might not have become a distinct practice.

It has been precisely for such marginal groups that microhistorical methods have proven most fruitful. American practitioners of the new cultural history, who were engaged in their own revolt against large-scale social history, latched onto the method as a way of recovering individual agency in history. One effect of this approach that has already been mentioned is the notion that features of human behavior, such as human rationality, that seem to be universal are actually contingent upon the cultural systems that produce them.

Not the microuistory task, if possible elvi all. Microhistory is a historical method that takes as its object of study the interactions of individuals and small groups with the goal of isolating ideas, beliefs, practices, and actions that would otherwise remain unknown by means of more conventional historical strategies.


Cerutti favours the first, while in Inheriting Power Giovanni Levi opts for the second. But while the fame of the individuals changed, the method did not. The increasing emphasis on agency at the expense of structure was precisely the development that Giovanni Levi had warned against in his discussion of Geertz’s method.

It does not, however, prove the theory, it merely suggests that a particular theory may provide the best available explanation. While Redondi has been criticized for substituting an obscure and complicated explanation for a simple and obvious one, his analysis did reveal microhistoyr dimension of the infamous proceedings that had not been recognized in any of the scores of previous studies.

Neverthless, we have no reasons to be desperate.


I wish I could do this also in the following pages of lvi essay, not only in this introduction. The debate between Finlay and Davis suggests that despite the best efforts of the microhistorians to guard themselves against the criticisms of empirically minded historians, the problem may ultimately be intractable. We are told in several ways that what became interested in otherness is historical writing itself, in the broadest sense.

As practicioners tried to come to givoanni with their own practice, they transformed microhistory into methodology, or more precisely, into methodologies.