As someone of Asian roots and finds studying history a lifetime commitment (although not in an academic setting, but more an intellectual delight), I do sometimes find my self disappointed for limited access to material objects which relates to my own roots to learn from. More so in learning about minor narratives on a certain subject or period. You would think at this day and age you would find everything on the internet. You would think that democracy will then boost historical ownership of young nations, say for example, Indonesia. Well, I find that isn’t the case, which is frustrating at times.
When one learns about history, first thing first is that one should be aware and keep in mind that history is written by a person, many persons from generations over continents through marriage, wars and trades and everything else you can think of. It does not come from the sky above, nor it sprouts on fertile land. It comes from the mind(s). It is complex, nuanced and it takes much effort to understand but in the end it is very rewarding. At least that is what I think when I study history.
The thought of minor histories (as opposed to the ‘great'(magna) history) came to me as I thought about colonialism/ post-colonialism. Remember that famous line, History is written by the victors?. Well, that might hold true until the ‘little people’ then became more educated and more aware about sequences of events, safe keeping and heritage. Today, I see more and more minor histories being compiled, studied, written and daringly re-written, which I personally find very exciting.
medievalpoc and eastiseverywhere is two of the many efforts of history collecting, writing and research which is a non magnae that I would recommend you to have a look. I learned about Unofficial Histories recently, too which is also worth seeing. In Indonesia for example, Komunitas Aleut is actively studying Bandung and write about it. And I am almost certain that numerous small study groups (outside the academics) are threading about their own histories in their respective cities.
If you know or you yourself is a part of these type of community activity, I would really like to know about you, please do drop me a line!
Further readings :
Afterthought : Roy Rosenzweig, Everyone a Historian