20 August 2007

Catherine Samary: "Immediate History" in Socio-economic Research in/after the Cold War: The Yugoslav Issue

I will make explicit the methodological criterions of my research on the Yugoslav titoist economic reforms and the recent systemic transformations.[1]

Those criterions deal with conflicting approaches of "scientificity" in economy – and more broadly in social sciences: they raise the question of "objective laws" versus conflicting choices both in economy and history; but also the question of autonomy versus organic links between economy, sociology, history and political sciences; and, finally, the question of the viewpoint and commitment of the researcher him/herself...

Specific difficulties are to be stressed in the context of the Cold War for academical research on Yugoslavia which was in fact dealing with "immediate history" before it was explicitly defined as a new field of research for historians[2]. The fall of the Berlin Wall opened a new period where economists as well as historians were confronted with a mainstream new "official" thinking. Resistances to non pluralistic approaches appeared in both fields – "against autistic economy"[3], as well as against the simplification of "immediate history" - in reality simplication of the past under the pressure of a simplification of the present.

Looking for possible "honest" and professional research, opposing those simplications and new official thinkings, meant accepting pluralistic views including explicit subjective commitments of the researcher; that did not mean "relativism" and a lack of ethic criteria based on long term trends of human societies and search for universal values. But the emphasis were to be put on the condition of open critical and international (democratic) research – as opposed to eurocentric, ethnocentric, "male"-centric, or any corporate views... The refusal of any (state or academical) monopoly on knowledge also meant being open towards human beings in their diversity and to movements of resistances of the civil society as a source of information, knowledge and resistance to "official memory" and oppressive thinking...

Walter Benjamin's approach to history permits us to integrate those viewpoints in an understanding of a conflicting and non linear history, looking for "holes" in memories.

I'll illustrate those methodological standpoints on the Yugoslav case.

On author

[1] Catherine Samary, Le marché contre l'autogestion – l'expérience yougoslave , Edition publisud/La brèche, Paris 1988 ; Yugoslavia dismemberd, Monthly Review press, USA, 1995

[2] http://www.h-debate.com/ (Historia A Debate – History under debate – l'Histoire en débat) ; and Groupe de recherche sur l'histoire immédiate – Université de Toulouse2 : http://w3.univ-tlse2.fr/grhi/index.htm

[3] http://www.autisme-economie.org/, and post autistic economic network www.paecon.net

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