H. P. R. Finberg. Recent Progress in English Agrarian History.

Geografiska Annaler, Vol. 43, No. 1/2, Morphogenesis of the Agrarian Cultural Landscape: Papers of the Vadstena Symposium at the XIXth International Geographical Congress (1961), pp. 75-79.

Back | Original Document

One of the shortcomings in the early British model was its focus on agrarian communities. Ideas of urban development were treated with disdain, and as a negative underside to community history. While in environmental terms that negativity is justified on a number of accounts, the historiography overlooked too easily the way urbanisation had shaped communities, for good or bad. More so, there was a conservative political agenda in the agrarian perspective, as opposed to other political agendas from liberal and socialist historians who sought to emphasis the problems and promises of cities. The point is very relevant to Queensland history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The social-political elite in the state advocated Queensland as an agrarian society. When the reader comes to look at Brisbane local history of this era a prominent theme in the literature are semi-rural communities on what were the out-laying districts of Brisbane Town facing challenges of the urban sprawl. Today, much is being discussed about the challenges of dense housing sprawling outwards through the suburbs. However, it is forgotten that the recent development is a third or fourth wave built upon the suburbanisation which took place from the 1880s to the 1950s. The local history of suburbanisation itself stands upon the agrarian history, and in turn, the agrarian history is built upon the history of Aboriginal communities and their land. Finberg in this reading suggests this type of archaeology to which local historians must pay heed. It is important to note that history and archaeology are not the same discipline but are able to partner-up together in various projects.

One of the shortcomings in the early British model was its focus on agrarian communities. Ideas of urban development were treated with disdain, and as a negative underside to community history. While in environmental terms that negativity is justified on a number of accounts, the historiography overlooked too easily the way urbanisation had shaped communities, for good or bad. More so, there was a conservative political agenda in the agrarian perspective, as opposed to other political agendas from liberal and socialist historians who sought to emphasis the problems and promises of cities. The point is very relevant to Queensland history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The social-political elite in the state advocated Queensland as an agrarian society. When the reader comes to look at Brisbane local history of this era a prominent theme in the literature are semi-rural communities on what were the out-laying districts of Brisbane Town facing challenges of the urban sprawl. Today, much is being discussed about the challenges of dense housing sprawling outwards through the suburbs. However, it is forgotten that the recent development is a third or fourth wave built upon the suburbanisation which took place from the 1880s to the 1950s. The local history of suburbanisation itself stands upon the agrarian history, and in turn, the agrarian history is built upon the history of Aboriginal communities and their land. Finberg in this reading suggests this type of archaeology to which local historians must pay heed. It is important to note that history and archaeology are not the same discipline but are able to partner-up together in various projects.

In archaeology, historical mapping has come to the fore. In reference to the work of Beresford and Hurst, Finberg looked forward to a comprehensive map of significant sites across the whole of England. Local historians ought not to interpret artefacts and maps in quite the same manner as archaeologists. Of critical value to the historian is an understanding of value in the past as it is held for the contemporary reader. It is a finer balancing act that an historian has to face, which the archaeologist is not obligated to follow. An historian has to both promote a critical view of the past from the present, as well as to preserve an account of the past from anachronistic judgements. Both are important, but conservative historians looking to agrarian cultures have often failed in the former, while liberal and socialist historians have failed in the latter.

The following two tabs change content below.

Neville Buch

Professional Historian at Qld Historians
Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He is a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch is the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and is a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.

Latest posts by Neville Buch (see all)

Neville Buch
Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He is a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch is the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and is a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.
Read previous post:
Don McNeil. The Why of Local History.

Don McNeil. The Why of Local History. The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer, 1955), pp. 245-247....

Close