By Elizabeth Abbott
What does the "tradition of marriage" particularly appear like? In A background of Marriage, Elizabeth Abbott paints a frequently impressive photo of this so much public, but so much intimate, establishment. Ritual of romance, or social legal responsibility? everlasting bliss, or cult of domesticity? Abbott finds a fancy culture that incorporates same-sex unions, prepared marriages, dowries, self-marriages, and baby brides. Marriage--in all its loving, unloving, decadent, and impoverished manifestations--is printed the following via Abbott's infectious interest.
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Additional info for A History of Marriage
Rather these studies constitute an endeavour which is perspectival and strategic, rooted in present-day concerns even as they reject the present as a necessary end-point of historical trajectories. The notion of ‘presentism’ has been central to one critic’s evaluation of Foucault’s contribution to the ‘philosophical discourse of modernity’ (Habermas 1987a). Whatever that term may be taken to mean, it is certainly right to suggest that the present is at the heart of the critical historical studies of Foucault.
Foucault evidently upsets earlier Annales conceptions of a shift from a general history to a total history. His target is probably less Braudel’s somewhat ambiguous relation to total history than a Marxist philosophy of history and, beyond that, any mode of explanation that partakes the totalising and teleological structure of the Hegelian philosophy of history. Nevertheless, if Foucault is playing with Braudelian categories, it is in an affectionate manner and with the Annales tools of series, functions, limits, and so on.
First, while Foucault is certainly attracted to Nietzsche’s genealogy as a source of inspiration and of ‘historical sense’, it is a mistake to read this as a methodological statement. It is only within the exploration of the language and perspective afforded by Nietzsche’s analysis of the rancorous will to knowledge that Foucault states that ‘all knowledge rests upon injustice (that there is no right, not even in the act of knowing, to truth or a foundation for truth)’ (1977b:163). For Foucault, it is not a matter of accepting Nietzsche’s provocation as an ersatz truth but of turning his insight into a critical problem.