The Clerk of the Forester's Records: John Berger, the Dead and the Writing of History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This study attempts to examine the work of John Berger in the light of recent debates on Marxism and historical writing, arguing that, with the new challenges of an anti-realist historiography, the intellectual's task of rendering visible the experience of the past is central to any form of historical practice. The paper is concerned with four aspects of Berger's work. Firstly, with his notion of photography as documentation. Secondly, with the documentation of the inarticulate and the ways in which the intellectual records and transmits the archive of particular communities. Thirdly, with Berger's articulation of the experience of the dead and the nature of our knowledge of the dead. And finally,with Berger's attempt, in a further meditation on photography, to provide ways of coming to a knowledge of the past in the form of traces left behind by those no longer living. This final section of the paper describes ways in which the history and the subsequent reaffirmation of the necessity of a realist historical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
JournalRethinking History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2000

Cite this