otago047190An inaugural professorial lecture I attended a couple of weeks ago as the University of Otago recognised Professor Takashi Shogimen.  As the season changes and becomes colder I fall behind in updating and reporting on my blog.  I run to catch up with myself.

Professor Shogimen started looking at William of Ockham.  His field of study was looking at the rise of the metaphor of the health of the body politic in European medieval history.  He moved on to study modern Japanese history, what happens when speech and dissent is supressed during a period of history when society is going mad.  Both these periods of history includes dissenters, political theorists who are thinking about unjust government and the legitimacy of dissent.

One must learn how to read what is written before the front cover of a monograph.

Katsumi Nakamura

History is written in context of a person’s experience in life, and education.  As the reader begins to read the reader must look between the lines and behind the words to find the historian’s context.

So my context would have to start in the anglophone Pakeha New Zealand culture in which I am embedded.  My values are based on the authority of individual conscience.

History is not about teaching skills.  It requires us to think about issues of men and women in a past different to our own time.  The academic freedom of the university is subject the struggles of economic gods and powers.  The intellectual pursuit of knowledge should be judged on academic grounds free of economic power.  The crisis of the humanities is the crisis of the univerisities.

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