On How History is Built

By Chrislie Pérez

The only duty we have to history is to rewrite it.

Oscar Wilde

National history, personal history, history of art, are concepts that interfere in a promiscuous way, that are in constant relation, because in short history refers to the succession, but above all, to the interpretation of the facts that happen in a certain moment. As a field of study it has a transcendentalist character because its function is, with a scientific criterion, to classify, organize and of course to relate those events that will pass to posterity.

However, to a greater or lesser degree, we are all historians. Everyone is capable of generating their own definition and of constructing their own space with their own laws of inclusion/exclusion, with very personal judgments of relevance, in order to bring together all kinds of events. It is presented to us as a phenomenon with an important subjective charge, since it can be told from different angles. History, in short, is a story, and story, is synonymous with tale, and tale, is one of its fictional meanings. So, it could be said that history is also fiction. But the fictional dimension to which I refer is precisely that which offers the individuality of the storyteller, because the fact told is the mixture of a high percentage of the fact itself and the point of view.

Certainly the events that the so-called History, with capital letters, the one read in school books, conditions each one of those small individual stories. But the process must be assumed in a bilateral way, although without too elementary ideas in which a definition of History is thought of only as a result of the sum of the subjects’ experiences. Nevertheless, it is no less true that these experiences must also be part of them, in a constant process of renewal and growth, since History is not static, its writing is continuous. Therefore, the commitment of each human being with both histories is to trust in the possibility we have to help build them, those of us who have not yet won.

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