In the article “The Politics of Historical Interpretation:” by Hayden White, the author establishes a certain point of view about the historical interpretation as a discipline. This paper analyzes the main outlines made in the aforementioned article.
The author starts his article with a distinction of the politics of interpretation, in a way that it should not be confused with politics as an absolute term. The after follows with identifying the difficulty in making the interpretation free from bias and supposition, indicating that the interpretation can work properly where it does not use the appeal to a force and repress the desire to appeal to authority. Another important point made by the author is the identification of a “discipline”, where for historical studies to be considered as a discipline a connection of proper interpretation, narration, and understanding simultaneously prevents from transforming the study into a science.
In general, the process of turning the historical studies into a discipline, although requires the consideration of many aspects, unlike the period that the author characterized as “undisciplined”, e.g. the eighteenth century. As ideology is the system of interpretations applied for the supervising role in characterizing the set of actions and motives of individuals, the interpretation could be the basic method of ideology. At the same, the politics of interpretations consider the process of splitting the historical thought from utopian thinking, i.e. the de-ideologization, which the author characterizes as perverse. The author goes further in listing some precautions and recommendations in the subject of interpretation in the historical studies.
The author closes the article with an interesting idea that the historical knowledge that does not serve particular programs could possibly exist, however, there are different measures of benefits, where some ideologies can use this knowledge better than others, which can give an assumption that historical knowledge in one way or another would serve unintentionally particular programs and ideologies.
White, Hayden. “The Politics of Historical Interpretation: Discipline and De-Sublimation.” Critical Inquiry 9.1 (1982): 113-137.