Cohen: History as a Myth

How do Cohen’s last chapters of the book, in Part 3 “The Boxers as Myth,” answer different kinds of historical questions than those Part 1 (“Boxers as Event”) and Part 2 (“Boxers as Experience”)? What do these chapters reveal about how history itself is constructed? What questions might they raise for our own process of writing history?

Each part of the book was different for the Event, the Experience and the Myth. Each part of the book showed a different way for the history of an event to be shown. All three points can tie into how a historian reconstructs the past for readers. A big question for any historian is what is truth. The historian can get the facts and write them in a book. For part 3 the question rises what is the truth? For Part 3 the historian has to take into account all these first hand accounts of experiences people had with Spirit Possession. Many people today are quick to dismiss the claim that a person could be possessed to fight. However a historian has a record of first hand accounts of eye witness testimonials that they saw young boys being possessed. The questions then arise of different perspectives of an event.  This is true for any historian how deciding what truth is. Also you can’t write off someone else’s truth just because it doesn’t match yours. For part 3 I think historians have to decide what is the person who told the myth trying to gain. Was the written down to convey a group of people to an ideology or a religion. What was the purpose of this piece of history being written down. Another point for the last part is you can’t demythologize the past because it is taking part of the story out. As historians we have to think about how to portrayal what happened while respecting what was written about it.


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