Thinking and dying in London

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“We always write – and read – history thought the prism of our contemporary concerns,” So why study history? What do we mean by ‘history’?

This podcast is a lecture by Dr Richard Barnett, which was part of a course on Thinking run by the IF Project, the free university in London.

“We always write – and read – history thought the prism of our contemporary concerns,” says Dr Barnett. “There is no such thing as an objective reading of history. This doesn’t render history completely subjective, what it means is that history is always coloured, always brought to light, and sometimes distorted, by our present preconceptions, our own concerns, our political concerns and identity where we stand in our own societies, where we want to go. So history in some ways always serves the needs of the present. That doesn’t make it worthless, in some ways it can make it even more valuable.”

Drawing on the story of John Snow – seen as the father of epidemiology because of his work on cholera – Dr Barnett explores history, heritage, historiography, and historical sources (whose voices are heard and whose voices are absent). He starts with a visit to the John Snow pub in London’s Soho……..

John Snow pub, Soho, London

John Snow pub, Soho, London

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