HIS 102X: The Production of History


Neil Agarwal






Fall Quarter 2017


Historically-minded scholars often look to the past in order to understand how things developed into the present. This course asks students to do something different: to reflect on the ways in which contemporary forces shape what we study as history and why. This means that we will consider how archives are assembled, whose stories are told and preserved, and who gives and is given access to them. We will question why efforts to organize and partition facts about the past can produce both knowledge and ignorance. We will examine historical representations in narrative and visual media, through case studies that include secret police archives in Guatemala, the bureaucracies of contemporary Pakistan, the colonial offices of the nineteenth-century British Empire, and the frontiers of ancient Greece. This course is geared toward history majors across regional specializations, as well as students in the humanities and social sciences interested in thinking carefully and creatively about the past. Emphasis throughout is on reading from multiple disciplines, including artwork and film.