Historicity has emerged within anthropology to refer to cultural perceptions of the past. It calls attention to the techniques such as rituals that people use to learn about the past, the principles that guide them, and the performances and genres in which information about the past can be presented. The concept is in essential tension with the meaning of the term as “factuality” within the discipline of history and in wider society. Anthropologists also sometimes compose histories within this Western paradigm, but historicity in anthropology orientates a different objective, namely to discover the ways (beyond Western historicism) in which people, whether within or outside the West, construe and represent the past. Historicity, which is grounded on a notion of temporality, offers a framework for approaching time as nonlinear and may thus be suited to studying other histories without fundamentally measuring how well they conform to Western history.


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