Historical Social Research

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Konrad H. Jarausch, Die Krise der nationalen Meistererzählungen. Ein Plädoyer für plurale, interdependente Narrative [2002] [Abstract]

With the concept of a “master narrative,” the cultural turn prodded contemporary historians to become more self-reflexive about their contribution to larger interpretations. Taking a critical look at the dominant explanations of the German past, this essay argues that the national narrative failed with the atrocities of World War Two, while the communist story was discredited by the overthrow of the SED-regime. But West German Gesellschaftsgeschichte also appeared increasingly outdated, since it was reluctant to admit new impulses like everyday history. However, the rising pretenders to grand narrative status were only partially successful, since the Holocaust fixation could not explain post-war recivilization, gender history provided only a partial view, Europeanization tended to legitimize the EU and global history was too encompassing to explain the German past. Instead of narrowing into another master narrative, the new plurality should be seen as an opportunity for a multi-vocal approach to the past, that ought to analyze how of multiple stories are entangled.