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Why study a foreign history?

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    Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 06:07
Hi there,

There are different ideas about why a person should study the history of other nations (in order not to repeat mistakes, establish certain historical facts etc...) I have so far not received a well-grounded answer for this question. So, dear moderators, and forum members, I would kindly ask you to elucidate two things which is very important not only for me, but also hundreds of students like me who want to dedicate themselves to the study of history:

1) Why should a person study the history of other nations?
2) What benefit will this study bring to his nation/country?

Thank you so much in advance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 19:52
You shouldn't.  Unless you have an interest in them or things that have origins beyond the borders of your own country..  

There are also malign reasons for understanding the histories of other nations.  For example to understand their weak points and exploit them.


"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 21:29

If one only knows a lot of history of ones own country one gets a false view I trhink. Why should the contemporary borders of ones country be of such universal significance anyway? Usually those borders are quite recent, as the independece of the nation in question may be too.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 21:49
A good portion of people those who shouting and yelling in history forums are usually only have knowledge of official history of their country. There shouldn't be an official history at all.
the single postmodern virtue of obsessive egalitarianism
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 22:13
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:

A good portion of people those who shouting and yelling in history forums are usually only have knowledge of official history of their country. There shouldn't be an official history at all.
Then what exactly is meant by an "official history"? As far as history is part of what is taught at school authorities of course have something to say, but I am not so sure in what other respects my country has an "official history".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2012 at 22:48
Official history is what is prescribed by the national curriculum by prescribed historians whilst contrary views and individuals are shut out so as to perpetuate what the state wants you to think.  It happens everywhere.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Dec 2012 at 05:00
History, in its broadest sense, is a reflection on the entire sweep of human experience. Without knowing where we came from, and why, we are condemned to a narrow and  mundane existence, focusing only on ourselves,  toiling at our workstations and casting anxious glances toward the horizon, and wondering if we should be fearful, or curious.
 
Japan may develop nuclear weapons, as a counter to China. Good idea? China is an authoritarian state, that has had some unkind words for Japan lately. Do you know why? Many in Asia would be appalled at the idea. Do they have a case?
 
Israel says it needs a safe homeland, but that surrounding Arab states are not letting them live in peace. What is the real story? The US risked nuclear war over this question once. Is it worth knowing about?
 
The US is committed to fighting for freedom in the world. But so many don't seem grateful, in fact many are violently hostile. Why? If you are going to rely on CNN for the answer, you will be disappointed. Then again, maybe not, if you don't know if what they are saying is factual or not. Are the answers worth knowing?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Dec 2012 at 06:11
To study history at all you study people not of your time. To study geography you study people not of your country. Your country now is not your country in the past, just as foreign countries are not your countries.
 
To study only people of your time and your place is effectively not to study anyone but yourself. 
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Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2013 at 17:23
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

You shouldn't.  Unless you have an interest in them or things that have origins beyond the borders of your own country..  

There are also malign reasons for understanding the histories of other nations.  For example to understand their weak points and exploit them.

 
Sorry, but this sounds as if you're saying we should only be interested in ourselves and nothing else unless we wish to attack others. The study of history from different places enables us to compare the evolution of the current cultures and it can give us an understanding of the current globalization that is taking place.
 
Aside from this, people who comprehend foreign cultures are better equipped to manage multicultural groups, which is becoming more and more necessary. Therefore, there are practical and academic reasons for studying foreign history.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2013 at 23:06
Why would you want to study something if you don't have an interest in it?  Is that not an exercise in futility? lol.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2013 at 11:09
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Why would you want to study something if you don't have an interest in it?  Is that not an exercise in futility? lol.
 
If you don't have an interest in something that's another story. But, people travel, people try food from different places, people try to interact with foreign cultures because they do have an interest in this. What you originally said was that we should only be interested in our own history. What I'm saying is that we are all human beings, so, in order to understand ourselves better we need to explore different cultures, enabling us to understand our own better.
 
Let's say a person is American, and naturally has an interest in American history, but he/she has to learn about British history in order to understand American history. Looking further, that person would have to understand Roman, French and German history in order to know more about British history. A look at Roman history would, no doubt, demonstrate similarities to some of America's current problems, so exploring Roman history more might prove interesting. In order to explore Roman history, one needs to look at Egypt, Greece, Europe and the rest of the Roman Empire. I could go on, but the point I'm trying to make is that the study of history limited to our own nation only is incomplete.


Edited by Logic - 06 Feb 2013 at 11:36
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I think it is important to study foreign history because it can lead you to some of the most interesting places in the world. I studied a lot of history in my spare time, especially when I was bored on a Saturday night when I'm bored out of my skull. For me it's kind of an escape.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote banna32 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2013 at 16:29
yes look at lesson that could have been lerned
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kilroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Aug 2013 at 05:50
Depending on your field of interest, studying the history of foreign countries can be vital.  I am a student of international relations, specifically dealing with theory, diplomacy and regions in post-conflict stages of rebuilding.  I will attempt to answer your questions with my particular interests as a case study.

1). 
A).  A person should study the history of other nations if it overlaps with interests of your own.  In my case, the benefits of studying Iranian history were threefold: One, i am currently learning Farsi and have found that researching the history of Iran keeps me engaged in the learning process, two, has provided me with other sources of learning (discovering poems, reading Persian history in modern Farsi) and three helped give me context in some of the current issues revolving around Iran currently (issues in which i study). 

B).  When studying large scale international relations theories, such as the various types of realism, liberalism and so on, it is vital to pull case studies from previous generations, most often dealing with a myriad of nations not only that of your homeland.  This is inescapable, and regardless of how 'boring' studying balance of power politics prior to World War One may seem, it is nonetheless, vital in studying many forms of realism.  The same can be said of history when looking for comparable case studies perhaps found in your own country, but you may need confirmation that your particular theory is a global one (for example, whether or not democracies historically deter war).

2).

The benefits of such studies are often seen in academic research as well as in professional applications.  For academic research, producing international theories on a large scale require research into past histories of other societies and can be used to shape government policy.  Studying the history of other nations is vital in diplomatic instances, especially when dealing with historically based conflicts, and helping to put diplomats in context within a particular conflict.  Furthermore, as Logic pointed out above, you will ultimately learn how your country formed via outside forces (in some instances).  Examples would be the de-colonization process and what effects that process had on the local populations and if it was a factor in creating conflict. Technically it is part of your history, but to fully understand the complexities, you must study the history of the colonizing powers and their context within that same time frame separately. Ultimately, you will have a much better understanding of your own history.  Learning from past mistakes is a given in this category.  Ex: Stop sending armies into Afghanistan.   

However, Zargo's nipped this in the butt at the onset with his rather terse reply, if it doesn't overlap with your internets, than why waste your time, although it would still open your mind to new things and that isn't a bad thing either.  

kilroy


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Woofer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2013 at 02:15
 I love History generally. I see no reason whatsoever to stay within the confines of ones nation state. Indeed it is risable for anyone to be so small minded.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2013 at 14:33
There's really no such thing as 'foreign' history. There is the history we study, and the history we ignore. Just because we ignore it doesn't mean it does not exercise an effect upon the history we'fe studied. Rather it's a lacuna in our knowledge.

Who had ever heard of Bosnia thirty years ago? Yet it existed. And who had ever heard of Bosnian Muslims? Where did they meet? In a volkswagen? Yet I'm about to receive a Bosnian Muslim as a daughter-in-law.  Just because I'd never heard of them didn't mean some of them wouldn't hear of me. History is not in our minds, we are a part of it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2016 at 13:28
Dialectic, when one studies a foreign history, one gains, amongst other things, a perspective to understand one's own culture, culture one, and reflect upon culture one, back to culture two (culture too) and back and forth.  It is a wonderful experience to see one's self in the iiii of an other.

Studying a foreign history allows one to participate in a dialogue, not only with another culture, but with one's own culture as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 05:54
If one is interested in history, why on Earth would you avoid world history???

One of my favorite works is Braudel's Civilisation and Capitalism 15th-18th Century. This is mostly about Europe, but that is where modern economic relationships began.
http://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Commerce-Civilization-Capitalism-15th-18th/dp/0060150912/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461783213&sr=1-2&keywords=braudel+civilization+and+capitalism

I was taking a class about the history of central and south america, and I was amazed at how many times we have screwed over Nicaragua. We started in the 1800s, and have intervened something like 19 0r 20 times.

If you look at Brit history, what we call the Revolution, they call the Rebellion. Check your dictionary, they are correct.

I looked briefly at the history of slavery as seen by Brit and German historians, and it was pretty confusing. Very different perspectives. To them, it's more  a part of history than it is for us.




Edited by rninl8 - 28 Apr 2016 at 05:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 10:42
I think that the "revolutionaries" would argue that the British King failed to uphold the social contract, and so was not worthy of being considered the leader of the colonies.  Due to mistreatment (taxation without representation), the colonials were not being properly treated as subjects, and therefore, the crown forfeited their loyalty.  Considering how Scottish "rebels" were treated years before, the Colonials rejected the title of rebel, arguing that they owed no loyalty to a monarch, deaf to their pleas, only wanting to squeeze the colonies as much as he could for economic gain.  A rebel is someone who resists the leadership of a rightful monarch.  A revolutionary is someone who resists the oppression of a tyrant.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 10:55
1)  Actually, the colonists had gotten used to paying little in the way of taxes. Some British historians
see the representation argument as an excuse. I don't particularly want to argue with them, or you, on the subject. If you want to pursue this, read some British history.

2) A revolutionary overthrows the existing government. Jefferson didn't overthrow himself, so to speak. He rebelled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 12:48
I would suppose that part of paying little in the way of taxes would have to do with the boycott of British goods promoted by the colonialists.  But maybe it was due to the benevolence of the crown.

I would suggest that the Americans can call it what they like and the Brits can call it what they like, but considering that the colonialist won the conflict (with the help of the French), their definition should take precedent.  Calling it a rebellion (and therefore "unjustified") smacks of British sour grapes.  
But yes, at the time, of the revolutionary war, the British called the colonialists rebels, and on that basis rejected any semblance of fair treatment to colonials taken prisoner.  Fail to define a military action (a rebellion) as a war, and the notion of "war" crimes, very crude in those days, goes out the window.  Call them rebels, lock them up in the sugar houses of New York or the derelicts in the harbor and let them die of famine, disease and abuse.  They are only rebels (a term that they themselves reject), but you reject their own definition and thus symbolically join their tormentors.  If that is the company you wish to keep...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2016 at 16:08
Did Jefferson wage a revolution against himself?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Apr 2016 at 11:07
Are you trying to say that Jefferson was upper class, and therefore did not qualify as a revolutionary?  I am not sure what your point is.  I don't think that Robespierre waged revolution against himself either.  What exactly is your point?  Compared to the British aristocracy, all the Americans were considered to be second class citizens.  Although properly speaking, the British are subjects, not citizens.

I kind of wonder whether, if you have an uprising and it is unsuccessful, it is a rebellion, whereas if you have an uprising and it is successful, it is a revolution.  On the other hand, revolutions eat their children, so I would agree that the American Revolution is hardly typical.  On the other hand, America has in its history a group that is called rebels.  Johnny Reb, of the confederacy.

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By and large, we were already governing ourselves.Jefferson went from being in the colonial government (House of Burgesses) to the Virginia state government.

We didn't overthrow the British government, we rebelled against it. Just as the South rebelled against the national government.

The treatment of the Tories, after we became independent, is one of those things that doesn't get discussed much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 2016 at 03:56
ya know, there is a guy who wants to talk about the Romaion Empire, instead of the Byzantine Empire, and he can talk about it, thereby confusing those who don't know about his personal terminology, and amusing those who do.

Yeah, those Tories were treating the other colonists as rebels, starving them and leaving them to disease and mistreatment in New York sugarhouses, churches (but not Anglican churches), and derelicts.  It is a b-tch when what goes around, comes around.  I am not saying it is right, but for some people it was payback.   You _define_ someone as someone you can kill, torture, maim (in other words, a rebel) with impunity, and sometimes it will come back to haunt you.

Franklin's estranged son was a Tory, who went to England, I believe, at the end of the war.

That would be an interesting question, did the revolutionaries self-define themselves as rebels? They did not, they talked about inalienable rights which were violated by the King.  Did the Southerners in the Civil War self-define themselves as rebels?  I think so, but I don't necessarily know, now that I think about it.

I tend to believe that people should be allowed (to some degree) to self-define.  But if not, then let's call the pro-choice movement, pro-abortion or even pro-death.  There is nothing like demonizing people so that you can kill them off with impunity.

The American government _was_ revolutionary, in a world of monarchies, we introduced a representative democracy, a republic.  It was a product of the Enlightenment.


Edited by franciscosan - 30 Apr 2016 at 03:59
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