Much awaited RRR (Rise, Roar and Revolt) flick of SS Rajamouli hit the screen yesterday with a bang. This story presents an epic, mythological narrative with a patriotic saga combining Ramayan and the Mahabharat to raise the anti-colonial national awakening movement.
From a historical perspective, this depicts the history of those who were left behind or subaltern groups. Although many parts of the movie may be fictional, it expresses micro-level research of a story revolving around two superheroes with their agendas.
Critics may not appreciate micro-level studies, for example. In Pacific’s historical context, Kerry R. Howe (1979) posits Pacific history has been conducting more technical articles, monographs and symposia and moving towards a state of ‘monography myopia’ [finding out more and more about less and less that lack broader generalisation]. Thus, one needs to discern the importance of micro-history, which is enlightened in this op-ed.
The micro-level historical study gained prominence in Europe during the 1970s-80s, associated with the practice of Carlo Ginzburg, Italian scholar (book The Cheese and the Worms, 1976: study life of a one 16th century Italian miller named Menocchio) and Giovanni Levi is another protagonist. The term ‘microhistory’ was adopted in 1959, given by George R. Stewart, an American historian.
The term prefix is ‘micro’, related to the reduction of the scale that does not analyse broad historical themes but specifies a particular event/individual or community action that happened in a larger field of study. This should not be confused with ‘biography’ or ‘local history, which does not specify the connection with particular events to a broad social context.
Tenets of Microhistory
Micro Historians focus on reducing the size of observation and the level of generalisation. This explains the individual interaction within and towards the social world, emphasising the distinction from significant notions. It concentrates on exploring the small scale event, community, personal and settlement; and is mainly associated with social and cultural history rather than economic and political historical facts.
It has a qualitative approach that investigates the concepts of the small unit as of a person, event or a small community that differs from quantitatively assessed phenomena. The scholars explore the materials of a historical standard that is marginal but can contribute to historical understanding if evaluated in depth.
Micro Historians use the ‘deconstruction approach’ to study many factors concerning the subjects and make an in-depth analysis of small units with evaluating every source. They believe in ‘normal exceptions’ that concentrate on individual units and establish their relevance in historical discourse. This person stands out from the common masses’ conduct or thinking, assessed on the premises of those in authority. The individual’s conduct may be praised in one context while criticised by others; this person’s act/phenomena are termed as ‘normal exception’.
The micro historians attempt to evaluate the conditions and sources to reconstruct the interaction between the text and the individual involved. They use a limited amount of quantitative data as it is not concerned about an individual but focuses on mass conduct. Mirco historians adopt restrictive criteria of sources and stress verifiable figures, mainly collected from secondary sources.
The microhistorians attempt to make research more transparent and unconventional methods by giving precise references to avoid the consideration of being based on the author’s subjectivity of the historical events. It is believed that historians only provide a reasonable and fair description. Still, it is difficult for them to recreate the understanding of the individual’s mind that participated in an event. However, the microhistorians fall short of reference material when they create a history of everyday life, as marginalised events, individuals and phenomena have few noted historical documents about their experiences and lives.
Micro-Historians believe that every source is ambiguous and needs further study, as every source is brought to the audience by the historian or scholar. The micro historians study the ones who are left out of the main context or the marginalised figures and phenomena. They study their behaviour as a dissent discrete voice/group of voices against the social customs and traditions.
They focus on individuals and events that may be considered bizarre, strange and done by socially marginal individuals. Their focus is on everyday life and reconsiders the traditional historical approaches related to political events, while micro-historians focus on social activities and cultural interpretations.
As Giovanni Levi’s “On Microhistory” stated, the “microhistorians have concentrated on the contradictions of normative systems and, therefore, on the fragmentation, contradictions and plurality of viewpoints that make all systems fluid and open”. They use narratives as an assessment research method to present their findings to reach a conclusion and reflect the gaps in a general understanding of that subject. The critics of microhistory state that if the micro historian concentrates on individual interactions, it is difficult to imply their analysis on large-scale events/phenomena.
Microhistory is critical to the contemporary technology events of modernisation and contemporary science. Microhistory takes care of the experience of the local people, an event or phenomena that are exploited, oppressed and overlooked by macrohistory. It is believed that macro history’s grand narratives and quantitative Social Science research fall short to record the micro-level reality. Thus micro-historians attempt to create a history of everyday life. A micro-level study and observation constitutes documentary evidence’s thorough revision. It pays attention to every small detail and is careful to avoid mistakes in analysing.
This history believes that the small level stage is the most appropriate way to assess people’s real feelings, values, and symbols. Microhistory has its means to reach generalisation by intensive study of a case to lead to better conception, although these generalisations may not imply a broader scale. They give a detailed description more objectively.
RRR has all potential to be the blockbuster that gives a sense of acceptability of micro-level stories among the populace. Micro historians use microscopic analysis to generate conclusions applicable to a more significant portion of the general population.
The pedagogy is used on a limited scale, but it shall recreate new dimensions. Using the Internet to share the Microhistory of diverse individuals will enhance its acceptance and help form generalisation across the world. In-depth research of a particular event and individual human behaviour action will better understand the world.
Disclaimer: Dr Sakul Kundra is an assistant professor in history and Acting Head of School, School of Arts and Humanities, College of Humanities and Education, at Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. email@example.com