The Masking of History: The Misunderstanding of Gender and Race Studies.

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Historical analysis has multiple approaches which often depend on correlating subfields of history. Understanding the subfield in which a historian is writing illuminates the subject and clarifies historical context. Although, the subfields of gender and race studies differ in how they emerged they share similar elements which can shape how historical recording can be negatively influenced. By analyzing how gender, whose origins are messy and indiscernible, is embedded and imposed contrasts with race as a perpetuated ideology, an understanding of how they are both used to help shape and reproduce systems of inequality can be achieved.

When exploring how history is retold, historian John Arnold presents a road map on how an understanding of gender and race studies can be used to identify which recorded documents create a truer sense of history. Arnold uses the historical example of a Sojourner Truth, a freed slave woman who lived in the mid 1800’s, to demonstrate how taking into account gender and race is imperative when deciphering which account is more reliable. The first account of a speech given by Sojourner Truth was captured by a newspaper editor the year it was given. This version is not verbatim but translated to capture the message as an educated audience would understand it. The second account was written in 1863 and was reworded to represent the dialect which Sojourner would have used. Arnold introduces the concept of mentalité and how it is used to try and capture the essence of the past. Arnold warns however, that to state that the second account of sojourner’s speech is more reliable because it resembles the vernacular of an uneducated black woman would be to “dissolve the individual Sojourner Truth into a melting p...

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...lyzing historical accounts, gender and racial classifications can detract from the real underlining issues. By having an educated grasp on gender and race studies and what historians face when sifting through historical accounts a fuller picture of the past can be reconstructed.


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