Perspectives of the Boxer Rebellion (Thanks Cohen)

From Cohen’s writings, I’ve picked out 2 significant ways to tell the Boxer Rebellion: first through the historian’s perspective, and second through the experiences provided to us by those who lived it.

The voices we hear from historians lay out the story of the Boxers in a cause-and-effect format, where they’ve taken apart every little detail, and find ways to correlate them to the overarching movement as a whole. ¬†They do not just explain the Boxer Movement, but they go out of their way to pick out every faction and -what they deem as- significant event prior to the movement itself that lead to the inevitable creation of the aforementioned movement. The major issue of viewing through historians is that they tend to have their own agendas also, telling history in a way that puts the “actors (the people in the history)” in one certain light or another.

The alternative is that of experience, which is somewhat harder (in my opinion) to assemble in regards to a flowing narrative. The two major issues when dealing with history by experience is that: 1. Everyone comes from a different place, and therefore 2. Everyone has a different way of interpreting events. This way of viewing history feeds into the ideas of Bias, in which the people telling these stories interpret them in a way that fits their personal stances either in real-time, or at the time of the event.  Though while this may seem like an ineffective way of seeing history, people who lived in the moment have more to say in regard to the events as a whole. What history tells us and what those who experience it tell us may conflict or align; which is why it is important to see a way through both.

What I learned from the readings thus far, and from our discussions as a class, is that in a way, blending experience and historian interpretation may be an ideal way to reach the actual truth of a historic event. As I stated before, connections and differentiation are necessary. There is always more than one side of the story, and somewhere in the middle they culminate the actual event. Firsthand testimonies and Textbook sermons are in a sense two pieces of a puzzle, meaning that they are in need to each other in order to complete the whole picture.

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