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History and Historiography. Approaches to Historical Research in Education (Introduction to the section "Foundations and directions" of the "International Handbook of Historical Studies in Education: Debates, tensions and directions", ed. by Tanya Fitzgerald)



Since the emergence of history of education around 1800 in Germany, approaches to writing history of education have been developed, altered, and diversified, and have eventually become complex, not seldomly challenging or competing (with) each other. Initially, history of education began by reducing the complexity of the issue by focusing on idea(l)s in order to serve its intended target group, future teachers. It only hesitantly drew attention to epistemological developments in historical scholarship outside of education, which then resulted in an intellectual richness and diversity of approaches that are performed at the expense of a rather easily teachable, consistent, and more or less linear overall account of the past. Accordingly, the target groups of educational historiographies are no longer necessarily teachers but are that part of the scientific community in different academic disciplines that tries to make sense of the past, be it with or without ambitions with regard to what is called the “history of the present,” the selfilluminating power of historiography.
History and Historiography
Approaches to Historical Research in Education
Daniel Tröhler
Introduction ....................................................................................... 2
The Past, History, and Historiography . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4
History of Historiographies ....................................................................... 6
Histories of Historiographies I: The Linguistic Turn and the Cultural Turn . ................... 8
Histories of Historiographies II: Innovations, Complexity, and Attempts at Restoration ...... 9
Conclusion and Future Directions ................................................................ 11
Cross-References .. . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 14
References .. . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... . .. .. .. . 14
Since the emergence of history of education around 1800 in Germany, approaches
to writing history of education have been developed, altered, and diversied, and
have eventually become complex, not seldomly challenging or competing (with)
each other. Initially, history of education began by reducing the complexity of the
issue by focusing on idea(l)s in order to serve its intended target group, future
teachers. It only hesitantly drew attention to epistemological developments in
historical scholarship outside of education, which then resulted in an intellectual
richness and diversity of approaches that are performed at the expense of a rather
easily teachable, consistent, and more or less linear overall account of the past.
Accordingly, the target groups of educational historiographies are no longer
necessarily teachers but are that part of the scientic community in different
academic disciplines that tries to make sense of the past, be it with or without
ambitions with regard to what is called the history of the present,the self-
illuminating power of historiography.
D. Tröhler (*)
University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019
T. Fitzgerald (ed.), Handbook of Historical Studies in Education, Springer International
Handbooks of Education,
The present chapter, an introduction to the section Foundations and
Directions,aims at providing a historic overview of milestones in educational
historiography the ways of writing history in education making no pretense
at completeness and making no claim to historiographical or methodological
accuracy. It does not represent the history of historiography but is instead
a preliminary and inevitably incomplete effort to identify and describe some
of the major historiographical approaches, without itself fullling the rigorous
standards of historical contextualization: It is a more or less chronological
spotlighting that aims to suggest a historiographical development in four phases.
History of education · Historiography of education · Linguistic turn · Cultural
The research eld that encompasses historical inquiry in the eld of education has
itself a rather short history. First attempts explicitly focusing on the past began to be
published in the last quarter of the eighteenth century in Germany. The eld became
established shortly after 1800 as a distinct curricular area in the context of teacher
education, when the rising nation-states and their need to expand schooling required
more efcient and loyal teachers as agents of national cohesion by educating the
future citizens. In a peculiar way, the past in the form of history became a crucial
element in the training of prospective teachers as agents educating children as future
loyal citizens as the bearers of the nations glory. In that sense, a gloried past
and the glorious national future were connected via the history of education as
a moralizer of teachers as agents of national identity, social cohesion, and the
progress of the nation-state within the international competition for uniqueness
and supremacy.
Even though there are early examples of institutional history of education, for the
rst 100 years, the dominant mode or approach to the history of education was the
history of ideas: that is, the linear and idealistic construction of an idealized past in
its development to the present, whereby increasingly at the end of the nineteenth
century, the present was the national present. As a rule, the historiographies
suggested that history culminated in its progression in the particular nation-states
from which the authors of these historiographies came. Against this national back-
ground, nationally different historiographies were developed. Whereas the German
historiography remained largely one of ideas, the US and the French historiographies
focused in distinct ways more institutionally on the development of schooling.
As a rule, those histories of education remained largely untouched by the crises that
history as an academic discipline underwent with the rise of sociology toward 1900,
even though there were early attempts to incorporate idealistic and sociological
approaches into the historiography of education. A broader reception or incorpora-
tion of social history be it in the form of German or British Marxism, the French
2 D. Tröhler
Annales School, the Frankfurt School, or the American sociology can be
evidenced from the 1960s in the context of the overall global cultural and political
crises, in which not least feminist researchers postulated the urgent need not only to
expand the elds of research to include neglected topics but to reassess the relation
between power, knowledge, and the social and political relevance of research.
The years between 1960 and 1985 witnessed a major shift in historiography in
general and in the history of education in particular that involved the increasing
decline in the importance of history of education in teacher education curricula and
a still cautious but increasing orientation of historians of education toward the
epistemological and methodological standards or at least debates in the science of
history. With the rise of postmodernism or poststructuralism in the wake of the
linguistic turnespecially in the French intellectual postwar milieu, there was cross-
disciplinary research interest in the intersection between psychiatry, medicine,
psychoanalysis, philosophy, and foremost history and an attempt to relate episte-
mology to questions of power and to refer power to desire, sexuality, and practices
of inclusion and exclusion. This brought together different intellectual trends that
allowed scholars in different disciplines across the world to reorient their research in
general and that in particular enabled younger researchers to distinguish themselves
from what they would label traditionalresearch. It is in this context that an
outstanding hero was created by his readers and disciples, Michel Foucault.
Foucaults oeuvre stimulated manifold research agendas in different elds of histor-
ical inquiry.
It is also in this context that in the 1980s, affected by the linguistic turn but
which was also criticized as being overly focused exclusively on language or verbal
expressions anewturnwas proclaimed that promised to be more compassing,
the cultural turn.This turn was followed by an array of further turns: the spatial
turn,the material turn,the performative turn,the postcolonial turn,and the
pictorial/iconic turn,to name just a few. Often, these turnsstressed that they had
a history of their own, suggesting that they were heirs of a respectful past that was
now in need of historiographical innovation. This claim was performed by adding
newto the particular eld of inquiry, creating new cultural history,”“new
material history,”“new curriculum history,and in sociology new institutionalism,
which increasingly began to argue historically. The plurality and diversity of edu-
cational historiography is impressive and suggests a variety of approaches that
all have, or at least claim to have, particular historical developments. Looking
back to the very beginning of the history of education, today we may indeed be
inclined to talk in a meta-historiographical way not about one history of the different
writings of history but in a plural form about histories of historiographies in
This chapter, an introductory overview for the section Foundations and
Directions,aims to highlight in more detail these dynamic developments in the
making sense of the past in four major steps and to conclude with an outlook. First, it
reects upon concepts of the past, history, and historiography and also reconstructs
the emergence of the genre history of educationin the long nineteenth century.
In a second step, under the heading History of Historiographies,it analyses
History and Historiography 3
developments up to the 1980s that led to a fundamental reorientation of historio-
graphy, often caused by the linguistic turn and the claim of discourse analysis. The
third step, under Histories of Historiographies I: The Linguistic Turn and the
Cultural Turn,focuses on the effects of this transformation of historiography after
1980 in the wake of the linguistic turn and the cultural turn. The fourth step,
under Histories of Historiographies II: Innovations, Complexity, and Attempts at
Restoration,addresses subsequent differentiations and fragmentations in the
approaches, most of them claiming to be a new way of an older way of historiog-
raphy. In the outlook, four challenges are identied that still stand in the way
of productive synergies in the ways of writing the histories of education across
disciplines and nations.
The Past, History, and Historiography
Nobody doubts that there is a past and that humans have a past. There is also no
doubt that all people have ideas, images, or imaginings about this past, even though
many people at least in the eld of education would doubt that extensive research
in history matters for the quality of education research. In an odd way, most
researchers have quite a historical awareness or consciousness, but neither the
historicity of the objects of research (educational institutions, educational practices,
values related to education) nor the historicity of our epistemologies (research
paradigmsand their preoccupation with research questions and methods) is
being taken for really important. We live in an age of a wide-ranging historical
amnesia (Geschichtsvergessenheit), and this is not to the benet of our research,
which all too often aims to serve dominating political or cultural exigencies, trends,
or fads rather than to analyze them and their educationalizing claims (critically,as
some might want to add).
Historyis a particular form of knowledge about the past and at best about its
effects on our present time in both the education eld and in our educational
epistemology. It is an expression of the deliberate making sense of obvious and
less obvious sources,whereby sources, as sources, are not simply given but
created by research questions that are related to our current epistemologies that
themselves are historically shaped. With that in mind, sources are artifacts of the past
that are epistemologically created as sources, either as remnants or relicts of the past
or as descriptions or reections of eyewitnesses of the past that is, of testimonies.
Remnants or relicts of the past are, among many other things, school buildings,
school laws, learning materials, blackboards, school uniforms, dunce caps,
rods, school satchels, toys, children games, playgrounds, or childrens books.
Testimonies, in contrast, are handed-down oral, written, or even drawn reports,
pamphlets, or reections that are concerned with events or incidents, debates
on school laws or school reforms, ethical discussions on education, reports on
educational institutions or school systems, diaries, and the like.
However, all these sources once they have become sources by virtue of our
epistemology, respectively, by our research question do not tell us exhaustively and
4 D. Tröhler
in a well-balanced manner about the past (and even less about its effects on the
present). It is precisely here that historians start to writehistory rather than to
hidethemselves behind a compilation of the sources they have created that is, to
create an account that expresses the historians efforts in making sense of the past,
based on his or her sources. As a rule, this is done by reconstructing the initial
purpose or function of these relicts and testimonies (that have become our sources),
by excavating the (expected) use or benet for which these artifacts were created
in their time. Writing history means that handed-down artifacts that become our
sources are to be reconstructed in their contemporary meaning by contextualization.
Contextualization is not a method but the fundament of the historical fabric in the
making sense of the past that becomes what we call history.However, the way of
making sense of the past follows particular approaches, styles, or directions and
here I come to the title of this section of this International Handbook of Historical
Studies in Education, which include or exclude explicit or implicit methods that is,
particular ways of doing. Yet, from an epistemological point of view, these methods
are not innocent but affect both the research questions and the styles in which these
questions are being addressed; they embody elements of normative theories, as
Thomas S. Popkewitz, Relation between Theory and Method in Historiography
argues in his chapter in this section of the Handbook. Hence, what we call history
is always a historiographicalproduct that is, a kind of knowledge that has been
constructed according to particular epistemologies and approaches in writing histo-
ries that include methods.
These approaches (or styles or directions) of making sense of sources have their
own history. Accordingly, there is a history of historiography (as particular way of or
style of writing history). This history tells us a lot about the ways (trained or amateur)
historians tried to make sense of the past based on obvious and less obvious sources.
In the beginning, this style was characterized as history of ideas,focusing on noble
idea(l)s borne by outstanding men throughout history (for instance, Schwarz 1813),
and the style became soon complemented or even challenged by institutional
history(an early example is, for instance, Guizot 1816) and later by social history
(an early example is, for instance, Barth 1911). Almost all of these early styles of
writing history were designed to serve the purpose of teacher education. They were
to help prospective teachers to become the desired teachers in the fabrication of
future loyal citizens of the respective nation-states.
However, this also means that from its very beginning, the history of historiog-
raphy was not (only) linear but plural in a rst and obvious way, for it was shaped by
the different cultural/national preferences, at rst those of France and Germany
(Tröhler 2006). Whereas in Germany, history of education has long remained
a history of educational ideas, historiography in the United States, for instance,
has much more frequently focused on schools. Likewise, looking solely at school
histories, we nd at least three different cultural styles for doingschool history:
German histories of schooling are traditionally written in the vertical tension of
social advancement and exclusion; the French and the Swiss historiographies focus
on ideological tensions on the horizontal level between liberals and conservatives,
in contrast to the United States, where the dominant paradigm deals with progress
History and Historiography 5
and pertinence or resilience (Tröhler 2013). Nation-states obviously follow different
styles of historiographies and thus produce different histories.
History of Historiographies
The acknowledgment of a cross-national plurality of historiography is of rather
recent date and represents newer epistemological developments in international
and comparative education. It takes into account that international and comparative
education is no longer limited to comparing the respective school architectures
(i.e., the arrangement into levels and tracks, the establishment of transition regimes
and certication systems, and the construction curricula) or education practices and
rituals but also transnational ows that are reconstructed in what is called either
connected history(Strayer 1989; Gruzinski 2001), Transferts culturels (Espagne
2013; Fontaine 2016), Histoire croisée (Werner and Zimmermann 2006), or
entangled history(Mintz 1986; Sobe 2013). These reconstructions, as Robert
Cowen, Comparative, International and Transnational Histories of Education
shows in his chapter in this section of the Handbook, take into account the different
epistemologies that frame not only the production of knowledge but also, as systems
of reasoning in the making sense of the world, the perception of other performances
and their translation into the logic of the recipients.
Hence, there is a need to talk about a history of historiographies, styles that
succeeded, supplemented, challenged, or competed with each other. This insight
is much younger than the genre history of education,and it is not a result of the
early challenges between the traditional history of ideasand socialor institu-
tional historyor comparative education.The insight results from fundamental
epistemological shifts mainly in the wake of the linguistic turn, which shattered the
traditional presumptions concerning a research object that is completely separated
from the researching subjects, whose aim is, by virtue of method, to generate
objectiveknowledge, that knowledge that fully represents attributes of the object
and that is completely independent of the researching subject. Histories are histo-
riographical products, and historiographies are themselves nationally and/or cultur-
ally and in any case linguistically constructed.
It was from the late 1920s that linguistic research claimed that the world, which in
the traditional epistemology seemed to be given and ready to be researched, is not
so much given and independent of us but rather linguistically constructed. This was
the insight that only in the 1950s would be coined as the linguistic turn, which
fundamentally questioned the previously taken-for-granted assumption according to
which research objects (nature or ideas) are ontologically separated from subjects
(researchers). The world appeared to be linguistically constructed and henceforth
plural; this idea was supported, although with different inspirations, by the claims
about a socially constructed world (Berger and Luckmann 1966) and by the
increased reception of the Frankfurt School or the French Annales School. And as
if this had not been enough, feminist research(ers) began to claim that academic
knowledge in general and that historiographic knowledge in particular is male
6 D. Tröhler
knowledge,knowledge that is primarily generated by males and about males in the
past and is thus a product of female suppression that needs to be (also politically)
changed (Rowbotham 1973; Dow 2014): Epistemological and political revolutions
were seen as going inevitably hand in hand.
At the time around 1970, with its multiple political and cultural crises around the
events labelled the protests of 1968 (Vietnam crises, civil rights movement, Hippie
movement, Russian troops in Czechoslovakia, activities of the Baader-Meinhof
group in Germany, to name a few), traditional social values were called into
question. In this context, the linguistic challenges (for instance, Meaning and
Understanding in the History of Ideas, Skinner 1969), social(ist) challenges (for
instance, Labouring Men: Studies in the History of Labour, Hobsbawm 1964,
or Education and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts Kaestle
and Vinovskis 1980), and feminist protests against gender-biased or even sexist
research (for instance, Gordon 1970/71) and research institutions called the tradi-
tional systems and practices of knowledge (production) into question fundamentally
and triggered a broad debate about the need to reevaluate the ways that historiogra-
phy has been and should be written (Barnard 1970). Here the distinction between
history and historiography was used also deliberately (Sloan 1973).
In this process of reorientation of research with regard to politics, institutions,
social commitment, methods, and approaches, the way was somehow paved for an
almost universal and often enthusiastic reception of the (earlier) work of Foucault
published between 1961 and 1975. With increasing success, Foucault had been
challenging traditional historiography in his books: Madness and Civilization
(French, 1961; English, 1964; German, 1969), The Birth of the Clinic: An Archae-
ology of Medical Perception (French, 1963; English, 1973; German, 1973), The
Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (French, 1966; English,
1970; German, 1971), The Archaeology of Knowledge (French, 1969; English, 1969;
German, 1973), and, especially interesting for (the history of) education, Discipline
and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (French, 1975; English, 1977; German, 1976).
Foucaults work obviously assembled and embodied different claims of reform in
academia in his time. It made the idea of discourse analysispopular (whatever his
disciples made out of Foucaults rather vague methodology), it challenged the
traditional history of ideas as a linear development of rationality and knowledge
and how subjectivity is constructed and disciplined, it made visible the close
interrelation between power and knowledge and strategies of inclusion and exclu-
sion, and it gave increasing voice to the body and sexuality as sites of desires and
morality. Many scholars felt at least inspired by Foucaults oeuvre, be it with regard
to the rise of experts in counseling us and our intimate feelings as engineers of the
human soul(Rose 1990) or the rise of statistics as form of bureaucratic governance
in the long nineteenth century, attempting the Taming of Chance (Hacking 1990),
or as a point of critical distinction, for gender studies (Butler 1990). Scholars
in education began to discuss Foucaults Challenge with regard to Discourse,
Knowledge, and Power in Education (Popkewitz and Brennan 1998), to biopolitics
in Bavarian classrooms 18691918 (Caruso 2003), or to lifelong learning (Foucault
and Lifelong Learning: Governing the Subject, Fejes and Nicoll 2008).
History and Historiography 7
It would of course be wrong and unjustied (and not a very Foucaultian claim)
to assume that there was a pre- and post-Foucaultian historiography in the same
(misleading) way that people suppose that there was a pre- and post-Rousseauian age
in education or a pre- and post-Kantian era in philosophy. However, it is probably
correct to say that in the 25 years between 1960 and 1985, historiography changed
dramatically and that these years represent Foucaults last 25 years of life. Yet, as
much as Foucault inspired people to do their work in a new way, it should not be
neglected that he was inspired by many French intellectuals of his time, not least by
his doctoral advisor Georges Canguilhem and other French intellectuals working in
the intersection between philosophy, medicine, psychiatry, or psychoanalysis and
history in a very particular postwar milieu in France that has not yet been sufciently
researched historically (for an exception, see Angermuller 2015).
Histories of Historiographies I: The Linguistic Turn and the
Cultural Turn
Given the relatively minor differentiation of various styles or approaches within the
genre history of educationin the rst 150 years perhaps up to 1960, there is a
certain justication for reducing the history of historiographies in education to three
dominant types: foremost (traditional) history of idea(l)s, institutional history, and
social history. Of course, they challenged or completed each other or competed with
each other, and partly with the exception of international-comparative approaches,
they were, as a rule, nationally limited. The national preoccupation remained
dominant with regard to both the research objects and the methods (Wimmer and
Glick Schiller 2002).
In the crises of the 1960s and the 1970s, the role of education changed in the
context of the educationalization of the challenges connected with the Cold War and
of social problems such as inequality, teen pregnancy, or environmental pollution
(Tröhler 2016). Education research became more instrumental, psychological, socio-
logical, and, allegedly, practical and future-oriented. At the same time, history of
education lost its curricular signicance in teacher education and accordingly as a
eld of study; this in turn provoked widespread mourning and complaints among
educational historians rather than historiographical interest in these historical trans-
formations (Tröhler 2017). Yet, it was precisely at this time that the historical
sciences underwent massive changes triggered by the linguistic turn (for instance,
Pagden 1987) and the poststructural treatment of language as performative rather
descriptive (Austin 1962), with a focus on ideas in context (Skinner 1988; Tröhler
2011; Zhao 2018) rather than on eternal idea(l)s, as Daniel Tröhler and Rebekka
Horlacher, Histories of Ideasreconstruct in their chapter in this section of the
Handbook. Next to the linguistic turn, the French Annales School and its focus on
mentalities and the increasing attention to previously ignored social groups (woman,
children, poor, immigrants) or materialities of life affected a revolutionwithin the
traditional bigtopics: the historiographical involvement with eternal ideas, wars,
economy, political events, and social structures was pushed back to make room for
8 D. Tröhler
the history of mentalities, everyday life, material culture, and bodies histories that
became possible through taking into account new, so far underrepresented, and often
visual sources (Burke 2001) that enjoy considerable interest in educational histori-
ography (Dussel et al. 2012; Priem and Dussel 2017).
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a complexity, not to say a lack of clarity,
in the matter of approaches and directions in historiography. What is common to
most of them is that they follow or are part of a particular turn,foremost of the
linguistic turn (still the dominant one) and the cultural turn, but also of the perfor-
mative turn, the spatial turn, the visual turn, and the material turn, to name just the
most prominent ones. The distinctions between these turnsremain blurred, and
interdependencies are obvious, which in 2012 caused the editors of The American
Historical Review, the ofcial organ of the American Historical Association, to
criticize the ination of the different claims of turns and its effects in historiography
(Historiographic Turnsin Critical Perspective2012).
Probably the most encompassing and most effective of these turns, after the
linguistic turn and connected with it, was the cultural turn, which in historiography
was called new cultural history.”“Newrefers to a long historical tradition of
research borne by respected authorities as well as to innovation and reform. The
newthereby creates or constructs the traditional or classicalcultural history,
such as Swiss historian Jacob BurckhardtsDie Cultur der Renaissance in Italien
(Burckhardt 1860; English The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 1878) or the
work of Dutchman Johan Huizinga (1929). Backed up by these authorities in the
traditionalcultural history and fueled by new impulses mostly of the linguistic
turn, New Cultural History became congured as a widely accepted genre of
historiography in the last two decades of the twentieth century (see, for instance,
Hunt 1989). It inspired historical research in different academic disciplines such as
medicine, The New Cultural History of Medicine (Fissel 2004); music, The Oxford
Handbook of the New Cultural History of Music (Fulcher 2011); politics, with the
example of Argentina, The New Cultural History of Peronism: Power and Identity
in Mid-Twentieth-Century Argentina (Karush and Chamosa 2010); and nally edu-
cation, Challenging Orthodoxies: Toward a New Cultural History of Education
(Cohen 1999) and History, the Problem of Knowledge, and the New Cultural History
of Schooling (Popkewitz et al. 2001). The productivity of this approach and its
particular characteristics is discussed in Lynn Fendlers, New Cultural Histories
chapter in this section of the Handbook.
Histories of Historiographies II: Innovations, Complexity, and
Attempts at Restoration
In the intersection of the linguistic turn and the new cultural history, an array of
newhistories were proclaimed, such as new material historyin connection with
material cultureor material identity(Grassby 2005), often combined with
art (Daston 2006) and visuality (Yonan 2011; Dussel 2013). This was seen as a
challenge to the traditional history of education (Depaepe and Henkens 2000) and
History and Historiography 9
paved the way toward identifying Materialities of Schooling (Lawn and Grosvenor
2005) in educational historiography, as Inés Dussel, Visuality New Materiality
and Historydiscusses in her chapter in this section of the Handbook. In the same
context, the idea of a New Curriculum History (Baker 2009; Parkes 2011) was put
forward; this has triggered idiosyncratic and innovative research, as the chapter by
Nancy Lesko and Sarah Gerth v.d. Berg, New Curriculum Historyin this section
of the Handbook shows.
In the same context in which new cultural historyand its related elds of
historical inquiry became established, already established feminist historiographies
were complemented and eventually partly replaced by either womens or gender
historiography, whereby the demarcation line between the two remained often
blurred. Partly in competition with social history, the topic of gender in history
was advocated in a heated debate in 1989, when the idea was discussed that class
difference was greatly more signicant than gender in the lives and education of
working-class girls(see Watts 2005, p. 226). And indeed, scholarship on working-
class women, minorities, and masculinities remained rather sparse, whereas visual,
spatial, material, and transnational methodologies were adopted by researchers with
an interest in gender (Goodman 2012). Gender studies were advocated as a cross-
disciplinary approach to be applied, for instance, in history, social sciences, econ-
omy, philosophy, linguistics, and education (Braun and Stephan 2000; see Julie
McLeods, Feminism, Gender and Histories of Educationchapter in this section
of the Handbook).
Arguably a part of, or at least affected by, new cultural history is the postcolonial
research approach. It (naturally) renounces the adjective new,as it does not aim at
creating a new-colonialhistoriography but advocates, more in accordance with
postmodernism and poststructuralism, the post: It addresses historiographical
styles of making sense of the past of a liberated territory. Hence, it is interested
after the end of colonialism in how history is being written by people formerly
affected by colonial powers. In other words, it is focused on politics of knowledge
that govern both colonized and colonizing people in their unique power relation
(Young 2001) by discerning different historical accounts under and after colonial
rule. The approach thus addresses questions of the postcolonial identity of a
decolonized people without the need to respond to more than the merely chrono-
logical construction of post-independence, and to more than just the discursive
experience of imperialism(Gilbert and Tompkins 1996, p. 7; see also Hall 1996).
This approach, which is currently focused on classicalcolonies, for instance,
in Africa or parts of Asia, pays rather little attention to other forms of expansions
of dominion, for example, in Europe, to name todays Norway, Finland, or Austria,
or to (other) territories related to phenomena of internal colonialism (Hechter 1975).
In contrast to the postcolonial approach, the last approach to be discussed here
again uses the adjective newbut often prefers the Greek neo”–namely, new
institutionalism or neo-institutionalism. However, in contrast to most of the
approaches introduced so far, neo-institutionalism aimed toward a new grand
meta-narrative, a historiographical aspiration that had been criticized by Lyotard
(1979) and many of his French colleagues, such as Foucault (1975; see also Flynn
2012). Neo-institutionalism referred to the oldsociological institutionalism as
10 D. Tröhler
advocated foremost by Max Weber and turned attention to questions of cultural
persistencethat were not adequately addressed by Weber (Zucker 1977). This
persistence is addressed by the distinction between the actual organization,the
technical activityof an organization, and the formal structurethat responds to
the institutionor to the institutional environment(Meyer and Rowan 1978, pp.
81, 104) that is, to shared cultural expectations. Institutions are therefore cultural
rules that give certain entities (like organizations or professions) and their behavior
collective meaning and value, whereby culture involves far more than general
values and knowledge that inuence tastes and decisions, it denes the ontological
value of actor and action(Meyer et al. 1994, p. 18). Institutions depend largely (but
not exclusively) on cultural-cognitive beliefs as the most important of their three
pillars (the other two being rules and norms) (Scott 2001, p. 57).
With the inclusion of ideas such as cultureor convictions or beliefs that are
taken for granted(Hoffman 1997, p. 36), new or neo-institutionalism was inter-
ested in processes of institutionalizationand also in macro-sociological analyses.
It came to construct a new grand narrative, according to which current and future
trends in sociology and education policy were headed toward a more or less uniform
world society, a world culture shaped by a world curriculum, whose roots were
identied as early as perhaps 1500(Meyer 1992, p. 6), and it suggested the
upcoming global redemption, a future Eden(Meyer 2012, p. xiii). On the other
side, neo-institutionalism provides answers to the question of not why but how mass
education became a central social institution inuencing all other sectors and
cultural, social, and economic change, combining aspects of social history as history
from belowand institutional history as history of consolidation of social practices,
as Renata Horvatek and David Baker, Social and Institutional Historiesdepict in
their chapter in this Handbook.
Conclusion and Future Directions
The last 30 or 40 years in historiography have brought about increasing differenti-
ation and ramication of historiographical accounts, in which most of the innova-
tions claim to have a much longer history, which they signify by using the adjective
new: After the two encompassing and mutually not independent turns,the
linguistic and the cultural, and with the development of feminist to womensor
gender history, an array of turnsand newhistories were proclaimed, whose
justications and validity may not always be conned to new insights and knowl-
edge but also by attempts to dene a distinct terrain in the eld of research, allowing
self-authentication or self-identication within the scientic community. Hence, we
witness a process of balkanizinghistoriography but only on one hand, for we can
detect a restorativehistoriography fueled by macro-sociological grids of thought
whose success in research might not least lie in the offer of new historiographical
clarity in times of abundant complexity.
This complexity of historiography between the different newhistoriographies
and between their shared skepticism toward grand narratives and the still existing
History and Historiography 11
traditionalistsadherence to and the neo-institutional rehabilitation of grand narra-
tives must not prevent us from identifying several challenges with regard to the
advancement of historiography. One of the big challenges will be to overcome two
kinds of segregation or fragmentation in historiography in general and between the
historiographical approaches in particular. The almost perpetual problem in educa-
tion in general and educational historiography in particular is its national focus.
From its very beginning and up to today, scholars of education are almost completely
integrated and involved in national contexts, and they publish predominantly
in national journals borne by national associations, such as History of Education
Quarterly (United States, since 1949), History of Education Quarterly (United
Kingdom, since 1961), History of Education: The Journal of the History of Educa-
tion Society (since 1972), Histoire de léducation (since 1978), Historia de la
educación: revista interuniversitaria (since 1982), History of Education Review
(since 1983), Cuadernos de historia de la educación y de la cultura (since 2009),
African Journal of Historical Sciences in Education: A Journal of the History of
Education Society of Nigeria (since 2012), or the (slightly transnational) Nordic
Journal of Educational History (since 2014). The problem here is less that the
research objects are usually nationally determined but that the epistemologies
the styles of historiography and thus the determination of denitions of the respec-
tive research questions and even of the methods are nationally framed.
In addition to these national preoccupations, a new segregation can be witnessed
that often, but not necessarily, reinforces the national fragmentations namely,
journals serving one of the particular trends in research. The Journal of Material
Culture founded in 1996 may be seen as competing with the journal Education and
Culture (since 1994) or as an alternative to Discourse: Studies in the Cultural
Politics of Education (since 1980), and the Radical Teacher: A Socialist, Feminist
and Anti-Racist Journal on the Theory and Practice of Teaching (since 1976) was
somehow challenged by the Feminist Teacher (since 1984), to which Gender and
Education (since 1989) might be seen as a competing alternative. The problem at
stake is not, of course, the plurality and innovation it supports but the barriers
it entails with regard to the conversation between scholars and their research: We
have niches and hollows of scholarship but increasingly fewer mutual perceptions of
research in other specialized areas. Independent, international, and bi- or even
multilingual journals in educational historiography that bring together junior and
senior researchers who are normally active in dispersed elds of expertise and that
cover a broad range of topics are an exception, for instance, Paedagogica Historica
(since 1961, not completely independent), Historical Studies in Education/Revue
dhistoire de léducation (since 1989), or Bildungsgeschichte. International Journal
for the Historiography of Education (since 2012).
Besides these two problems of segregation or fragmentation, there are two further
challenges that deal with segregation. One is the separation caused by the disciplin-
ary boundaries that characterized Continental European more than US historiogra-
phy. The preoccupation with the relevance for teacher education has led to a certain
isolation of education historiography within the eld of research called history of
education, an isolation that has been advocated explicitly by many German scholars,
12 D. Tröhler
among them Heinz-Elmar Tenorth (1996), who accordingly shows little enthusiasm
for most of the newer approaches depicted in this section of this Handbook (Tenorth
2016). This self-imposed isolation can provide an institutional area within the
universities that may be governed by particular preferences, but it may well turn
out to be at the expense of the quality of historiography and theory, which in turn
may eventually expose education maybe with the exception of educational psy-
chology as an academic discipline at risk.
The problem with this isolation from the different streams of the science of
history is, along with the lack of transdisciplinary conversations, the limited histor-
ical scope of inquiry. If research in history of education is conned to the historical
epoch of the establishment of mass schooling as central in the nation-states, then the
respective research interest will be inclined to reduplicate the nationalist motivation
behind broad schooling and, accordingly, be less inclined to focus on the Middle
Ages, the early modern period (if it is to be separated from the Middle Ages, which
the Annales School with their focus on mentalities in general and Jacques Le Goff in
particular would doubt), or even the early eighteenth century. The damage that
is caused by this historiographical myopia is considerable, if we think of major
impulses in the general historical scholarship that also have inspired remarkable
research in education. Carlo Ginzburg developed his microhistory taking the exam-
ple of a miller around 1600 (Ginzburg 1980), and John G.A. Pocock or Quentin
Skinner detected relevant political languages in Florentine Renaissance (Pocock
1975), languages that imply educational imperatives with regard to (good) citizen-
ship. Peter Burke also focused on the Renaissance with regard to culture or the social
conditions of life (Burke 1978), and Peter Laslett published on family life before the
Industrial Revolution in England (Laslett 1977). In France, Roger Chartier analyzed
publication strategies from the fteenth century (Chartier 1987) and, together with
Marie-Madeleine Compère and Dominique Julia, education from the sixteenth to the
eighteenth century (Chartier et al. 1976). In the United States, Anthony Grafton
reconstructed higher education with regard to scholarship after 1450 (Grafton 1991)
and, together with Lisa Jardine, the development of the humanities (Grafton and
Jardine 1986). In Germany, Heinz Schilling analyzed the effects of confessional-
ization and Calvinist culture in northern Germany and the Netherlands (Schilling
1991) and, together with Stefan Ehrenpreis, edited a book concerning confessional-
ization and schooling (Schilling and Ehrenpreis 2003).
With regard to the relevance and dignity of historiographical approaches in
education, neither the limitation to a historical epoch nor to a nation or region is
convincing, and it will not help to challenge the epistemological consequences of our
age of historical amnesia (Geschichtsvergessenheit) if we (continue to) conduct
research in education in this way. The following nine chapters in this section,
Foundations and Directions,will introduce and depict most of the approaches
discussed here from a historically informed and international point of view. They
testify to the richness in the ways of writing histories in education for the sake of
increased historical awareness not only of the research objects but also of us as
historical researchers.
History and Historiography 13
Colonial and Postcolonial History
Comparative and Transnational Histories
Gender and Feminist Histories
Histories of Ideas and Ideas in Context
Materialities and Iconography
New Cultural Histories
New Curriculum History
Social and Institutional Histories
The Relation of Theory and Method in Historiography
Visual Methodologies in the History of Education
Visuality, New Materiality, and History
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History and Historiography 17
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