Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Tools for Military History

Posted by Chris at 10/26/2006 12:40 PM...

Leif Torkelsen, a graduate student at Ohio State, was kind enough to send me a copy of his paper "Joining the Academy: Postmodernism, Transmodernism and the Future of Military Historiography". which he presented at this years' Society for Military History Annual Meeting. I've only skimmed it so far, but this description of transmodernism and how it might be applied to Military History is much more useful than the articles I've seen elsewhere.

Torkelsen's basic argument is that transmodernism requires/allows historians to understand past events through the lens of the cultural context of those events. One area in which this is particularly important is understanding when and how past societies fight wars. After all, culture determines the weapons a society adopts, how it organizes its forces, how it views warfare, what its goals in wars are, how it treats prisoners, etc... This is a really simplistic view of Torkelsen's paper, which I think should be read by a wider audience.

This is a broader view than the trumpets and drums/bombs and bullets style of military history that would seem to be an issue for those who really don't care if one side used three line ammunition or .303 rounds, and it could tell us more about how, why and who fights various wars. The Military History envisioned by Torkelsen's paper requires us to really understand the era we are addressing without imprinting our own values on that era. I think this is where Mike Cole's view that transmodernism forces us to step outside of the problem comes into play - in the form of "analogic" reasoning.

Again, this is really just my first impression. I plan on spending more time on transmodernism and "Joining the Academy" this weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment