Tosh Pursuit Of History Precis Chapter 1

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Tosh Chapter 1 Précis John Tosh in Chapter 1 of The Pursuit of History (2006) addresses the differences between “social memory” and true history. Tosh goes into great depth of what social “memory” is, why it is so pertinent even in today’s society and the roles of “social memory”. He also emphasizes the great importance of separating social memory from history, because in many cases they differ greatly. “Social memory” is a group’s, “…shared interpretation of the events and experiences which have formed the group over time” (p.3). A group’s “social memory” tends to skew its idea of the past to fit their needs to “justify the present” (p. 3). Although not historically accurate, “social memory” is an important binder for many social, ethnic, national, religious and political groups. An integral part of studying history is understanding the differences between the present and the past. Understanding differences is not only in a material sense but it is critical to understand the difference in social norms of past societies as well as the people’s viewpoints and attitudes. Without understanding social differences, historians can and will take historical events out of context. Keeping historical events separated from modern or personal viewpoints is vital in keeping history in an appropriate context. Another important concept in studying history, “…is the recognition of historical process – the relationship between events over time which endows them with more significance than if they were viewed in isolation” (p. 11). Historians have to understand the events that lead to future historical events or movements. There are many factors that distort historical events in to “social memory”. Tradition creates a sense of distorted history because people tend to tie traditions (what has been done in the past) to what happened in the historical past. The problem
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