“To understand their ways, advised the old man…”


To understand their ways, advised the old man, “you got to understand where the White Man comes from, and his history.” When Indians did conduct their own ethnohistorical investigations into Euro-American culture, they discovered that here were poor, hungry commoners whose ancestors had killed the son of their God and who themselves had fled from an overbearing king. Cut loose from both, his grandfather said, they brought to Indian country an overriding principle that explained their behavior: “The new rule was that you could keep as much as you get hold of any way you could get a hold of it.”


Peter Nabokov, A Forest of Time. American Indian Ways of History, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 228.

“Historians do not psychoanalyze…”


“Historians do not psychoanalyze people of the past; rather, they work in the archives, with the residues of the dead whose voices remain silent until they re-sound in the mind of the historian. Historians explore the many ways that the past survives within the present – as institutions, myths, habits of thought or silences; they show how that which has been forgotten may yet influence some of the most recalcitrant problems of an age….” (emphasis added)

– Sally Alexander and Barbara Taylor, “Introduction”, in History and Psyche: Culture, Psychoanalysts, and the Past, edited by Sally Alexander and Barbara Taylor (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 2.