Ancient history

What is Microhistory?

The main characteristic of Micro-History is to analyze the “outsiders” of History, that is, to tell the stories of unknown but important characters.

By Fabrício Santos

History has long emphasized the great “heroes”. For some historians, history was seen from the top down and the great events concealed the characters who also had their prominent role. This history, which became known for its positivist character due to the absence of important historical agents in the pages of books, has been overcome since the emergence of the Annales School.

Carlo Ginzburg and Giovanni Levi are one of the historians who contributed to breaking with the traditional approach to history. From them, historians were concerned with analyzing the historical facts, also giving importance to the agents considered until then as extras.

Microhistory will show, for example, that within the French Revolution there was a certain peasant who was important in the process of triggering this historical fact, that is, the historians of the micro -history will emphasize that it was not only Napoleon Bonaparte who was the great hero of this event in France.

Another example by which we can understand microhistory is through the Second World War. In this historical fact, names such as Hitler and Mussolini became protagonists in the production of books and theses at universities. However, after the emergence of micro-history, the historian was able to narrate the Second World War through the eyes of a Japanese kamikaze soldier, who had an inside view of the small details of the war. Through this soldier, the reader had access to curious and interesting facts that, before micro-history, would hardly be reported in books.

Therefore, the main characteristic of micro-history is to analyze the “marginalized” of history, that is, that soldier in a great war, a certain policeman during the military dictatorship or history of a woman during a labor strike in the Industrial Revolution.

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