In his article praising the uses of micro-history, Tonio Andrade hits the nail on the head by stating that imagination is the most important tool of the historian. Micro-history, with its up close and personal approach, feeds into the imagination in a way I don’t believe macro-history can replicate. Looking back, when I first remember history being my favourite subject at school, it was the little everyday details of the past which grabbed my imagination and ran away with it. More than ten years on, as an undergraduate history student, the feeling remains the same. Obviously, as time has gone on, the importance of macro-historical questions and narratives has become much clearer to me. They are obviously crucial to the study of history. However, just like Andrade, I think finding the right balance between different scales of historical narratives is vital. His story of the Chinese fisherman in Taiwan brought to life the stories of people I had honestly never even considered before. If told from a macro-historical perspective, this is an area of history I probably, unfortunately, would skip past in favour of something else. Yet, after this article alone, I actually found myself curious about this point in history. That, to me, is the most important aspect of micro-history. It drops you immediately in the thick of it, and leaves you feeling very strongly about the people and events you encounter. Yes, most of the big questions in history need macro-history to be explored, but . Micro-history seems to be the most efficient way of sparking interest in previously unexplored topics, which in turn opens doors to completely new areas of historical enquiry.
Micro & Macro