“We Are All Historians”

We are indelibly shaped by the cultural forces swirling about us.

Part of the human experience is to understand the effect of these forces upon our lives and our character and hopefully respond in a humane way to further the common good.

For, Dr. Anna Muller, Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Dearborn history is not simply a dry review of past events, but an engaged, compassionate, and living experiment in crafting meaning and understanding in the present moment.

From the George Washington University website, Historical News Network article by Erik Moshe, she says:

“There is a historian in each one of us. Once we begin asking questions of why the past unfolds in a given way, we become historians. I think a historian should be curious and open, but aren’t these qualities necessary for every discipline? We should be ready to complicate the answers we have while trying to go beyond what appears to be black and white. “

Dr. Muller grew up in Gdansk, Poland, the birthplace of the Solidarity movement during the time of the Cold War.  Rather than a childhood of fear and anguish, living behind the Iron Curtain, she recalls  “… regardless of what Americans may think about life in the Eastern bloc, my childhood was full of unbridled joy.”

If you are curious about this observation and seek to understand more than the stereotype of a dismal, dreary fearful existence during the Cold War, to understand that occasionally ordinary citizens not only found moments of pleasure or happiness but were “full of unbridled joy” then perhaps you can appreciate the important work that historians provide for us- to think deeply, critically and humanely.

Question for Discussion

  1. What does “indelibly” mean?
  2. What are some of the characteristics of a historian that Dr. Muller mentions?
  3. What was the Solidarity movement?
  4. What do you know about the Iron Curtain, the Eastern bloc, and the Cold War?
  5. After reading the full article by Erik Moshe, what questions do you still have for Dr. Muller?

For the full article, from the History News Network, please click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s