Microhistory goes public: from Ginzburg’s paradigma indiziario to Weizman’s forensic turn

The importance and persisting influence of Carlo Ginzburg’s essay on “Clues” is not only widely acknowledged, but has also been attested to in a variety of ways. However, quite a few years have stolen by since the essay was first published. A great many things have changed in the academy as well as in wider society – and not least, in the relation between the two. It would therefore seem that the time is ripe for rethinking not only Ginzburg’s thesis in itself, but also its wider implications.

In the pages that follow, I will approach the potential – and no less important, the limitations – of “Clues” in two consecutive steps. To begin with, I will provide a brief overview of the publication history of Ginzburg’s seminal essay, an account that will take us back to the late 1970s. I will then go on to discuss how the ‘paradigm’ proposed by Ginzburg has been applied, by him as well as others, to matters of public rather than strictly professional concern. Although my argument proceeds in distinct stages, I implicitly regard this entire development as mutatis mutandis, one continuous process of publication in the extended sense of ‘becoming public’. If “Clues” did indeed make a proverbial splash, what I attempt to follow are the widening concentric rings on the water, in the conviction that they will reveal something about the broader significance of Ginzburg’s approach.

“Microhistory goes public: from Ginzburg’s paradigma indiziario to Weizman’s forensic turn”, in Magnus Bärtås & Andrej Slávik (eds.), Microhistories (Stockholm: Konstfack, 2016), s. 244–279 (36 s.), ISBN 978–91–85549–20–7. Read the entire text here.