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International Q&A with FSI-Humanities Center 2011 Visitor Monica Quijada

By Marie-Pierre Ulloa

Why did you become a historian?
 

Monica Quijada


Since I was very young I have been interested in History as a means to understand society and as a place from which to participate actively in society’s concerns.

What is the focus of your current research?

I generally work on more than one topic, which I find interrelated. At this time I am working on interethnic relations (particularly the interaction of Indians and citizenship in 19th Century Latin America), popular sovereignty in the Spanish world along the centuries, and the management of diversity in Anthropological Museums.

What are the three or four seminal books in a historian's library?

History is a very wide subject both in regards to time and space. There are many books that may be considered as seminal for me. However, to name a few: Lucien Febvre, Le problème de l’incroyance au 16eme siècle; Eric Hobsbawm: The Invention of Tradition; José Antonio Maravall: Las comunidades de Castilla; Ernest Gellner: Nations and Nationalism.

Who are your models and mentors, if any?

I have not really had models and mentors. However, should I have to inscribe myself in the track of great Historians I would name José María Maravall and François-Xavier Guerra.

Which are the most critical skills in order to become a good historian?

Curiosity, willingness to learn, social sensibility, capacity to stand in your neighbor’s shoes.

What is the mission of the Humanities and how do the Humanities and Social Sciences complement each other?

Humanities are the basic understanding of humankind and society. Most importantly, Humanities provide the means for a kind of knowledge and understanding based on criticism or, as Descartes would say, “methodical doubt”. That is also why Humanities are often seen as a suspicious discipline and as a dangerous tool in the hands of society.

The Social Sciences are a kind of Humanities that have developed a more formalized language and have a more obvious applicability. In my opinion History is clearly a Social Science, same as Anthropology and Sociology.



Tags: International Q and A