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History Really Matters – Here’s Why

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History Really Matters – Here’s Why

Philosopher George Santayana is known for his famous statement that states that those who forget about history are doomed to repeat it. However, that is just one of the many reasons why it is so important for us to learn as much about history as we can. While history is not really cyclical, it is nevertheless important. Without understanding where we’ve come from, we cannot understand where we are, and we most definitely cannot understand where we might be going. Even debates that are prevalent in American politics today go back to the founding generation and the disputes between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson that occurred while both served in President George Washington’s cabinet. If you stop and really take the time to think about it you can realize that the majority of our society today can be traced back to our history hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

What Questions Does History Attempt to Answer?

Studying for a masters of history online can be a great way to learn about the past and how it impacts the present. Historians can provide a context for past events and show how the past unfolded. Every historian has a perspective, and these professionals ask questions of the past. The who, what, and when of history is generally known with quite a bit of certainty, especially for more recent events. Instead of looking at the known parameters, historians usually concern themselves with the questions of why events happen as they do and how historical processes manifest themselves. There is definitely no better way to learn about the past than to study it.

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Historians Can Show How Humans Behave Badly

History is primarily a study of humanity, and historians are usually placed under the umbrella of the humanities by those who like to classify academic disciplines. Humans in the past have frequently behaved in pretty pitiful ways. Events like the Crusades, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and the World Wars have seen deaths that have reached into the hundreds of thousands or even into the millions. Great atrocities have been carried out. When historians ask the how and why questions regarding these horrible epochs in world history, they are attempting to help people in the present avoid similar mistakes. While history is not cyclical, it does exhibit patterns in human behavior. This is also something that can really help psychologists be successful in analyzing society behaviors as well as personal behaviors. It really is amazing how much we can learn about people today by studying people of our past.

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History Helps Us Understand Why Society Progresses

In addition to looking at the negative events from the past in an attempt to avoid reliving them, historians also look into great triumphs. Scientific discoveries have greatly impacted the world that we live in, and the practice of the scientific method requires some understanding of the past. Humans have traditionally built upon the knowledge that has been accumulated over time, and some remembrance of past knowledge is necessary for new discoveries. By learning about the past we can find even better ways to progress in the future.

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While many people might feel that history is just a litany of names and dates that are generally disconnected, a closer look at the subject shows that our current standard of living is inexorably tied to the people and events from many years ago. Connecting these people and events to the present is one major way that the study of history can enrich our lives. There is also nothing better than being able to hear great and inspiring stories about the incredible people of our past.

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Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Kara Masterson

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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