Practicing The Methodology of History ; Epistemology Approach

In its development, Science of History recognizes three important epistemology, reconstruction, construction, and deconstruction. Each epistemology produces a methodology that is different with each other.

Construction result the methodology of narrative history. Historiography that is generated are also aimed to provide a logical description of the development of a process based on common sense, imagination, expression, language, facts and knowledge[1]. Reconstruction result the methodology of  structural history that emphasizes the structural approach to social sciences (especially the theory and concepts) to produce historiography does not just recount the events but also to explain the incident[2]. Later on, surface deconstruction with a methodology of relative history  that emphasizes  linguistic turn and narrative turn as a product of culture and intellectual to provide new understanding of the past[3].

However, in Indonesia’s historiography, the historians tend to use only one of methodology that based from Science of History epistemology. After the narrative history developed in the national historiography framework (1957), at the 1970 The Second Seminar of History, it was begin to show interest in using the approach of social sciences in explaining historical events[4]. Since that time, even until now, it is considered the explanation of structural history which is considered quite satisfactory. However, after the collapse of New Order in 1998, come up to the surface discourse to change the structural history which is considered as the product of political rather than intellectual products and urged the creation of a new history[5].

This trend, in fact, is more harmful than beneficial in the development of Indonesia historiography. In fact, up to a certain degree, the methodology is more useful for molting it into one than fought against. This paper shows the possibility of obtaining it.

The main characteristic of historical research will not be separated from the chronology, the emphasis on process, and the use of credible and authentic sources. Regarding to this, the methodology in narrative history is still relevant used to produce historical works that based from the chronology events. In addition, several events need to be able to show the causality. So that, the process of change can be seen in the historical research. Narrative history also provides the instruments that can help to search the relevant and authentic historical sources. In narrative history tradition, the historical research based on the use the authentic and relevant historical sources. So, the methodology of narrative history can be used to hold the main characteristic of historical research

In addition, in line with the development of the era, Science of History is required to develop an analysis that not only presents the story but also can give a donation in the life of the society. For that, Science of History borrows the theories and concepts of social sciences to enrich the historical analysis. But, it isn’t mean that use the theories and concepts from social sciences in historical research is  definite the Science of History same with the social sciences that are aimed to find a generalization of the phenomenon. Science of History still emphasizes the uniqueness and the theory of the concept of social sciences is the only instrument in the analysis of historical research.

Use the theory and concept of social sciences in historical research can produce a more profound and historical variants, such as cultural history, social history, art history, etc, and the actors of history not only the “big man” but also the” common people”. However, often miss from  the attention that  structural history is  making the historical writing formal, complex,  bore. This can be seen with the low interest in reading the historical works that produced by the professional historian.

The society  are more likely to work with amateur historians, who came from the common persons, such as the witness history, political elite, journalists, etc and so for that, actually, the historian must apply the methodology in relative history (deconstruction) in each of his works. That is, the approach linguistics turn  and narrative turn that emphasizes the language as a cultural and intellectual products. The historiography must be able to present the popular style of writing that showed in the literature work (novel roman, and short story), so that the works of professional historians are not only built for the professional  historians itself but also built to the general public. However, keep in mind also the adaptation of popular style of writing  is intended only to facilitate the understanding of readers and not the reduction of facts that are in the works of history.


[1] Sartono Kartodirjo, Pendekatan Ilmu Sosial dalam Metodologi Sejarah (Jakarta :Gramedia, 1992).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Helius Sjamssudin, Metodologi Sejarah (Jogjakarta : Ombak), hal. 339-340.

[4] Kuntowijoyo, Metodologi Sejarah (Jogjakarta, Tiara Wacana,2003), hal 7.

[5]Bambang Purwanto, Reality and Myth in Contemporary Indonesian History, Humaniora Vol XIII   No.2/2001, hal 111.

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