Blog Post #2

These readings have been rather fascinating! It’s intriguing reading about all of the aspects of history that are not taught, and more than that, all of the things that are taught, but in a very diluted, PG way. I suppose what really caught my eye in the reading, and what I’ve noticed a lot as the BLM movement becomes more vocal, is the way people are so defensive of historical figures despite the travesties they bestowed on so many people. This sounds so minute, but I enjoyed reading about this from a historian’s perspective through the 1619 project.

A research question I would like to pose is: Why are people so eager to defend people who have caused a lot of tragedy, and which figures in history are the most ‘shielded’?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, through history and science. I would first gather scholarly articles and sift through some of the “greatest” and “most tragic” events that are documented. For example, Christopher Columbus discovering America. Some view this as the most fundamental, exceptional piece of our history, and others view it as a fundamental, yet tragic and disturbing piece of our history. What psychologically causes people to view these aspects differently? I would ask. I would then conduct a social experiment with varying, important historical points in time. I would thoroughly research some of the most well-known historical events (Christopher Columbus, the Holocaust, etc) and would likely have my participants read summarized studies or pros/cons lists of these events. Then, I’d ask people which they would argue were tragic, and if it was tragic, was it justified? I would ask who they would be more willing to defend, x person or y person? There would be a lot to do from here, as you would have to research varying personality types, as well as DNA, to possibly find correlations in reactions to different tragedies in history. I imagine you could argue there is a gene or set of personality types that will respond one way to one question, and one way to another. I would have to access a lab and other spaces to conduct my research and would need somebody with expertise in molecular genomics to conduct that aspect of the research. However, it’s just fascinating to me how some people can justify things because they led to success, even though that success was achieved through death, destruction, and violence. In the end, I imagine my question would be rephrased and split into a variation of questions specific to the most prevalent personality types/genes and would try and dig deeper into what intrinsically allows people to justify and look past different things. Something I would argue in my research and would need to be conscious of is how things are worded. The wording is vital in research studies, and I imagine how I phrased things would shape the responses.

This could all be way off-base from what you were asking, but this just makes me wonder!

One thought on “Blog Post #2

  1. I couldn’t agree more that the current movement for racial equality and justice raises some interesting questions about both history and memory (or the constructed commemoration of the past). I think the broad depth of your research question would not only address the history of slavery, but also put that history into a broader conversation with the legacies and structures of other acts of historic violence that persist today. I think your approach of studying the psychological and sociological foundations of popular perceptions of history is really fascinating and unique. It would make a great social experiment! Memory studies are also a really popular subgenre of history. To add to this, I would be interested in other social and cultural factors that condition people to have certain perceptions of reality– like politics, religion, education, etc. Otherwise, I think this would make an intriguing project!

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