Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier
Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier

Tidsskriftet

Hvad er kulturhistorie? Dette retoriske spørgsmål stillede en af dansk kulturhistories faddere Troels Troels-Lund allerede på tærsklen til det 20. århundrede og gav sit eget veloplagte og polemiske svar, hvor han hyldede dagliglivets historie frem for staternes og krigenes historie. Men er dette svar – såvel som spørgsmålet – stadig relevant i det 21. århundrede? I det følgende skal vi se lidt nærmere på, hvad det særligt er kulturhistorie kan, og hvorvidt og hvordan den adskiller sig fra den almindelige historie.

English summary

What is cultural history? The paper discusses whether cultural history still should be defined by having a specific empirical object such as the history of everyday life. Taking the point of departure in the current mainstreaming of cultural history and topics outside political history within the discipline of history after the cultural turn, it is argued that cultural history should rather be a specific analytical strategy. The paper investigates the Foucauldian notion of genealogy or “history of the present“ and proposes an understanding of cultural history as an analytical strategy that seeks to destabilize a present that has forgotten its contingency and the time-bound questions that gave rise to its beliefs and practices. Genealogy is therefore about tracing the heterogeneous pathways that led to the apparent solidity of the present. A first sketch to a genealogy of cultural history in Denmark is given through a discussion of the canonized text by T. Troels-Lund, On Cultural History from 1894. The idea of everyday life as the analytical and defining object of cultural history is constituted in this text as well as in the disciplinary battles that formed the situational background for Troels-Lunds argument. Instead of taking this situated definition for a given fact cultural history is – in the tradition from Foucault – understood as a critical, destabilizing and thus self-reflective analytical strategy.