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Beyond and To Psychohistory Beyond!

:
the Annales

PatrickHalston

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480 History Dr. Baskerville Dec.I I 1999

The difficultpart of writing apaper onthe Annales school of history is figuring outhowto include Foucault in with historiansof the Annales school.There is an obvious way to do this: simply borrow from Peter Burke the explanation that they both sharethree distinctive features, and a assumptions; on including, a stresson collective attitudes;an emphasis unconscious concern with structure of beliefs; or from Patrick Hutton that they are both concernedwith the civilizing process. But a clue as to why this might be thelazy person'sapproach,is that Foucault has come up many times before in earlier readingshaving nothing to do with the Annales, (in but and desonstruction, in othersas well) and is particular, in discussions about post-modernism referred to by scholarswho have something more than simply broadening our conceptionsof the past in mind. Patrick Joyce,for example,has Foucaultin mind when he criticizes institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge. Aletta Biersack,brings up Foucaultwhile discussingthe hegemonicbattle with the global capitalistic system. My point is that Foucault's name comesup when scholarsare not necessarilyconcernedwith the past at alI, but overtly concernedwith overthrowing certain aspectsof our present.In this regard, Foucault can be read as anti-thetical to the Annales school,especiallyif we find FrancoisFuret's analysisof this schoolpersuasive, and perhapsbelongswith historianslike Carl Becker, in being bestunderstoodas a dramatic challengeto the history professionitself. This essaywill tackle this question:Is Foucaultjust anothercivilized tenantoccupying a room in a very big 'history' mansion,or is he a

barbarian/arsonistintent to burn it to the ground? And another:If Foucault is not allowed a specialplace outsidehistoriographicaldivisions, commentingon all within, should we consider allowing another scholar such aplace? 'history' It is probably impreciseto characteize Foucaultas simply anotherroom in the mansion, becauseit is an unfaithful characterizationof the way some historians have included Foucault within historiography. Instead,we have Hutton who ends his essayon the Foucault phenomenon:"The issue,therefore,is how historianswill reconciletheir newfound interestin the puzzlesof rhetoric with their ongoing need to addressthe substantiveproblems that have long servedas the stuff of history" (102). Hutton implies that Foucault is not'tacked' on to

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historical studies(like a short chapterdevotedto minorities or women often is to books that otherwise ignore them) but could infiltrate their studiesmore profoundly dependingon the historian. For: "The style of the historian's inquiry as well as the quantity of data assembled 'room/mansion' metaphorbecauseof determinesthe way it is rendered"(101). But, I chosethe its associationwith Lawrence Stone and his attempt to transform what could be potentially dangerousideologiesto the history professioninto oneswhich actually help give the profession legitimacy. and . . . provided us with If Foucault "has fonly] challengedus to questionour assumptions the method and tools of analysisto write a new, political history of culture"(46), as Patricia then he belongsin any discussionof the Annales school and the history of O'Brien suggests, all mentalities. Hutton has charactenzed historiansof mentalities,including Foucault,as having "traced new routes upon the map of cultural history. They have visited subjectshitherto unexplored,or never before treatedseriously"(257). Further,Foucaultis like the historiansof mentalitiesin that both provide "not merely an elementof mansion,but somethingmore : 'total' history", not merely a room in a

'oaperspectiveon the civilizing process"(257).

It is with the help of Furet that we can imagine irreconcilable differences between Foucault and the Annales school. Furet doesnot specifically credit his insightsto Foucault,but he does 'mask' of truth, to seethe true face of power. what Foucault encourages:to look beneaththe Furet suggeststhat any attempt to seethe Annales school as a contribution to our understanding of of the past is a farce. Instead,"[h]aving been enticedout of its position as the soothsayer national destiny and prophet of human progress,history has studied the social sciencesonly the the better to appropriatefor its own advantage ambition of Durkheimian sociology" (395). History has extendedits rangewith the Annales school,with its focus on ordinary people, in order to better competewith sociology and anthropology- its rivals among university disciplines - for supremelegitimacy Q90. The result is a colonizationof the other disciplines and a loss

and for the discipline of history. "[T]he tyranny of vagueness imprecision (403)" that history, and "temptation to tell a mere story (410)"remainsunchallenged. History characterizes

-5is re-constitutedandnot interpreted. Historians,on the other hand, can "still maintain the notion of [their] superiority on the grounds that fthey] alone can study certain objects exhaustively, from every angle . . . fand t]hus, in the midst of a crisis in historicist history, the historian has fallen back on a lesscharismaticnotion of his learning,without suffering any epistemological loss" (394). Furet's analysisof the Annales historiansis consistentwith Foucault's belief that it is structural changethat is important and not changein content. What is important to Furet is how in the discipline of history has maintained,even enlarged,its presence the universities,just as to Foucault, what is important to note in the French Revolution, is that the stateenlarged its in influence and presence peoples' lives. Furet, I believe, showshow Foucault,can be usedto do to the Annales historians, what they claim to do to conventional historians: depict their work as superficial, misleading,as skimming the surfaceof the past, and "neglecting the'deep structures' of historical reality which lie beneath"(Hutton,"History of Mentalities", 240). This is Foucault "as an Attila [relishing] the scorchedhistorical terrain he leavesin his wake" (O'Brien, 30). Itis this Foucaultwhich doesnot belong to any particular school of historical thought, despitethe wishes of other historians. This is Foucaultthe barbarian,Foucaultthe arsonist,who intendsto burn down ProfessorStone'smansion. The implications of his work neednot simply awakennew kinds of history, but potentially, work to eliminate the historical professionitself for its role in perpetuating bourgeoishegemony. And it is this Foucaultthat is usedby scholarssuch as Joyce,and Biersackwith somethought to doing exactly this. Finally, is this Foucault which does not belong within any of the thematic subdivisions of your (Peter's) course;but insteadbelongsoutsidecommentingand criticizingeverything he sees
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itself from the others,proclaiming within. He would say that no matter if eachschool distances itself as singulariiy enlightened,the strategyof assigningeachschool its particular week house. Foucault would a encourages vision of the historical discipline as a many mansionned say that to provide another impression would require structural change:the coursewould need to be divided into two sections,perhaps,- one which includesall the voices which maintain

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history's hegemony,ffid the other of voices which challengeit. Although, in a sense,and inspired by Foucault,it is possibleto re-imaginethe courseas it has beentaught in such a way. stages- epistemes- just Foucault does,after all, imagine history as being divided into separate of as the Annales scholarsdo, but he refusesto allow anyoneof them the resemblance being at with power struggles peace. Instead,every period is just as tangled,complicated,and saturated as every other period. Consideringthis coursewas borderedat one end by Carl Becker, who proclaimed "every man a historian", and at the other with Foucault, we can imagine that the surroundingwalls of Lawrence Stone's many roomedmansionas being on fire. But if we considerintellectualtrendsover, what I will call the 'petit duree', the last one

hundred years, we may yet put out the fire, and contain Foucault after all within a discussion of mentalites. In order to do this, I will needto spring Hayden White free from the discussionof narrative, and introduce him to this discussionof mentalities. White introduced us to different to different strategiesof emplotment in constructing works of history. But he also describeda movementfrom Romanceto Tragedyto Comedy , ending finally in a deep ironic mode, in historiography;and in the twentieth,he notesa persistentoscillation between nineteenth-century the realist and ironic modesof description(Marcus,13-14). What I am getting at is that it is possibleto assigneven the barbarianFoucaultto a world view common acrossdisciplinesat a certain period of time. GeorgeMarcus provides a descriptionof periods of heightenedirony in which Foucault seemsto fit nicely. He saysthat: social reality seem Periodsof heightenedirony in the meansof representing perceptions of living through historic throughoutsociety to go with heightened momentsof profound change. The contentof social theory becomes politicized and historicized;the limiting conditionsof theory becomeclearer. Those fields most closely tied in their concernsto describingand explaining social phenomenaundergoing complex changesexhibit strong internal challengesto reigning paradigms,and to the idea of paradigmsitself. . . Intellectually . . . the problem of the moment is less one of explaining changes within broad encompassingframeworks of theory from a concern to preserve the purpose and legitimacy of such theorizing, than of exploring innovative ways of describingat a microscopiclevel the processof changeitself. (15)

-5In this descriptionwe seeFoucault's assaulton theory; Joyce's and Biersack's senseof rapid changeswhether threatening to make all previous historical work irrelevant as with Joyce, or of tensehegemonicbattleswithin disciplines,and againstglobal capitalismas with Biersack; and even recognizethe concernsof authorslike PeterBurke that the Annales school lacks details on how changeoccurs. Further, Foucault's claim that different epistemesare entirely unrelated to each other is challengedby White's accountof the petit duree. According to Marcus, White saw a similar ironic style dominating the nineteentwenties and thirties - a period equally suspiciolF of grand covering theoriesand reigning paradigmsof research(14). What Marcus's conceptionof an ironic period doesis deflateFoucault's belief that he stands apartfrom conventional scholarsin being revolutionary. Instead,belonging to an ironic period, Marcus would credit him with (ust) another intellectual current; one which "takes full account of intractable contradiction, paradox, irony, and uncertainty in the explanation of human activities" (15). He believesthat this can lead to a lot of creativescholarlywork, but it doesnot repudiate all the intellectual trends that went before it. "Older dominant frameworks are not so much (10). Scholars,even denied - there being nothing so grandto replacethem - as suspended" radical oneslike Foucault,eachbelong to certainperiods,eachpart of'"Jpiralwhere "there is sumulative growth in knowledge, through the creative rediscovery of older and persistent with the stateof a questionsin response keenly experienced momentsof dissatisfaction to changesin the world" (10). Stone discipline's practicetied to perceptionsof unprecedented by might be encouraged this conceptualization all he needsto do is sit still and, like KingLear, endurethrough the fierce 'ironic' fire storm, awaiting a oromantic' new dawn ahead.

'different' motives for the scholars, We would be cautiousif we listenedto White, to assume living in different periods,i.e., they are not primarily motivated by 'power', as Foucault

'truth' in line with what scholarshave been doing for generations: but suggests, by a pursuit of Thomas Kuhn's conceptionof their enterprise. If we acceptthis, we would have to ignore Furet's judgement of why scholarshave been attractedto the Annales school. Furet not only

-6implied they were motivated by a need to 'colonize' otherdisciplines in an attempt to deny them influence, but also that thesescholarssoughtan 'escape'from the trying, tensetimes of the

'free space'of the long duree,where political issuescould be nineteensixties. The unchanging, ignored as unimportant in the larger schemeof things, is presentedas an antidote to their present anxiousness.TheseAnnales scholars,saysFuret, where political issuesprovoked considerable are not primarily interestedin truth, but in solitude. This, again,is not the kind of thinking which can be understood as a contribution to historiography, but as potentially undermining the entire field of historiography. If historiansattractedto the Annales school engageinhistory as akind of 'therapy', how about other historians? How about: RenatoRosaldo'shistorianswho seek comfort in pleasingmetaphors; PeterNovick's historianswho needthe professionalrituals and to apparatus serveas a superego; PeterLoewenberg'scliometricians(cited in Floyd's article I believe) fleeing humansto engagewith numberswhich can't hurt them; or Patrick Joyce's while everythingthey have ever believed,asbeen historianswho go about their business undermined by post-modernists? If we want to avoid asking uncomfortable questionsabout the motives of historians, we could quietly allow White to contain Foucault as another intellectual trend; but we should at least recognizethat this could be representedasjust another attempt to 'escape'anxieties. I believe that we should allow a scholarto standoutsidethe history discipline, outsidehis 'school' or 'period', to commenton the entire discipline of history. I don't believe it should be Foucault - there is something apocalyptic about him, and not White, his relativism can be Iknowjusttheone! Whothen...whocouldluse?... Of course! annoyingandunhelpful. There is a scholarI would like to introduceyou to - Lloyd deMause- who although I'm sure his you've heard of him, you may not yet have appreciated importance:for he is a man slightly aheadof his time. His fellowhistorians respondto him inthe sameway apatient doeswhen his psychoanalystmakes a premature interpretation - with deep feelings of humiliation and rage 301). (DeMause,Foundations Psychohistory. of DeMause's thoughtson why we do history will concludethis essay. Structurally,I hope to

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communicate that I am now limiting the attention I give other schoolsof historical thought, (although, be sure, I will give my fellow studentsmy full attention) and that I am merging with the one school - psychohistory- which will occupy most of my time hereafterin the next and beyond. I leaveyou with DeMausle, respondingto an article by Henry Ebel: semester As usual, Henry Ebel has uncoveredan unpleasantlittle attitude of ours that endsup by giving the whole show away. What he has done is simply describethe motivationsfor being historians andfor reading history. We all want to return again and againto that wax we museumof history because wantto relive again all thosetraumas- history's traumas and our own - but now safely. has Now psychoanalysis a technicalterm for the processof endlessly reliving our life traumassafely:perversion. A pervert is someonewho takes a childhood trauma and, by slightly rearrangingits content, now triumphs over it; by masturbatingwith a woman's shoe,the pervert both affirms and denies the woman's lack of a penis, triumphing over what was once an unpleasant discovery by concentratingon the phallic heel or toe of the shoe. Robert Stoller tells us that much of the excitementpresent The psychoanalyst in our sexualfantasiescomesfrom this mechanismof perversion,constantly rearranging our traumas into triumphs. But if this is true, then the writing andreading of history has to date been a perverse activityt Thathistorians get perversesexualpleasureout of handling, playing with, reaffanging and triumphing over the historical traumas to which do they chooseto devotetheir lives becomesevident when psycho-historians overtly describethe historical group-fantasiesbeing acted out. the samething but Then they get accused, as one critic of mine so well put it, of "indulging in their own excited fantasies." Of course!How can I (or you) write of the abusesof children without evoking our own childhoods including all the fantasieswe still carry with us to help us master our earliest terrors? How can I (or you) write about war without evoking our own sadism,our own fantasiesof revenge history for and triumph? We all initialty go to that vast psychodramanoiLcalled in any perverseactivity: to triumph over our past. the samereasonwe indulge The only difference is that the historian acts out and enjoys this perversion revealsit by describingthe when successful, while the psychohistorian, presentin the material and in its viewer. historical group-fantasies The unconsciousof every one of us has the samematerial inside it. Psychohistory differs from history in not }ust acting out and secretly enjoying the endlessperverseritual of playing with our historical shoe-fetishbut in finally overcoming the past by revealing and then understandingit. We will remain trapped in the wax museum of history only as long as we continue to deny the thrill we get from being there. ("The Psychohistoryof History",264)

BIBLIOGRAPHY Roots,Inc., 1982. New York: Creative Foundations Psychohistory. of Lloyd deMause, o'Psychohistory History:A Symposirm'',The Journalof Psychohistory, Vol$ of Lloyd deMause, (M#cr ,1981). No.l as Anthropology a Culflral Critique: E. George MarcusandMichaelM. J. Fischer, Chicago:University of Chicago an ExperimentalMoment in the HumanSciences. 1986. Press,