Research:Relations between authorship and authority in Ancient historiography and in the post-modern world.

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Duration:  2017-August – 2021-July
History; Postmodernism; Commons-based peer production

This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.
Please contact the project lead before formally citing or reusing results from this page.

Post-doctorate research project crossing between the fields of Ancient History/Historiography, Theory of History and Information Sciences. Abstract:

How to attest the historians’ legitimacy from their produced text? In other words, how the authority of the author of the historical text is exerted and recognized? We start from this broader question in order to identify relations between authority and authorship in Ancient History – the moment that creates the root concepts of the genre – as well as the similarities, differences and responses to these approaches in the new forms of collaborative writing based on digital technology, which we will call Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) as defined by Yochai Benkler, of which Wikipedia is the best known example.

For the ancients we may discern three types of authority in historiographical writing: the first, with Herodotus and Thucydides, is about the quality of the narrator as researcher or witness. Next, what we see for instance in Polybius, is how well the author presents their mastering of the rules of the narrative genre. Finally, with the Romans, the personal character of the author also becomes important. The relationship between authority and authorship is unequivocal in all three cases, since the founding characteristic of Western historiography is exactly the role of the author as an individual, in opposition to the anonymity of the Near Eastern author.

The case of CBPP, recent development of the writing operation on the digital platform, brought about a questioning – or even collapse, given its ubiquity – of the authority of the writer of history as developed in the modern world, when the academics of the field finally become the only qualified ones for the task. History such as written on Wikipedia is once again the work of anyone who shows themselves capable of displaying the rules of the game. It is not totally anonymous, since the author builds their legitimacy through their regular use of a pseudonym. Although CBPP is currently not the space for new historical research, it is important to examine its contents as a popular form of Public History, and as a mirror of the construction of knowledge in the present.

Ultimately, the goal of this proposal is to examine aspects of the following underlying question: if post-modernism breaks with the epistemological certainties of modern historiography, bringing back issues of language, aesthetics and the relationship between history and literature, to what extent does it respond to the cardinal concepts of the discipline? The examination of differences is also a place for reflection on how the writing of history in the post- modern world has radically changed the relationship between authorship and authority.

The benefits of this project for the Wikipedia community are related to understanding and dealing with mechanisms for building authority and legitimacy in article writing, in a mote theoretical level, and relating this to broader cultural issues in contemporaneity. A more practical set of activities related to this project deal with teaching Higher Ed students about the meaning of Wikipedia, as I've already been doing since 2011 (cf. my Wikipedia userpage).


Critical analysis of Ancient historical sources, literature revision and discussion on Postmodernism in Historical writing, and Wikipedia as CBPP.


Policy, Ethics and Human Subjects Research[edit]



  • Series of articles in peer-reviewed journals in Portuguese and English.
Article (in print): "Is Livy a good Wikipedian? Authority and authorship in ancient historiography through the lens of contemporary anonymous writing".
  • Presentation of partial results in conferences. TBA
  • Writing of a book on the subject.


  • Benkler, Yochai. The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. Yale University Press, 2006.
  • ______. The penguin and the leviathan: How cooperation triumphs over self-interest. Crown Business, 2011.
  • Burke, Sean. The death and return of the author: Criticism and subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. Edinburgh University Press, 1998.
  • Dewald, Carolyn. "'I didn't give my own genealogy': Herodotus and the Authorial Persona." Brill's Companion to Herodotus. Brill, 2002. 267-289.
  • Kirby, Alan. Digimodernism: How new technologies dismantle the postmodern and reconfigure our culture. London: Continuum, 2009.
  • König, Jason; Woolf, Greg. (eds.) Authority and Expertise in Ancient Scientific Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Lipovetsky, Gilles; Charles, Sébastien. Hypermodern times. Cambridge: Polity, 2005
  • Marincola, John. ‘Herodotean Narrative and the Narrator’s Presence,’ Arethusa 20 (1987), 121-137.
  • ______. Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • ______. ‘Genre, Convention and Innovation in Greco-Roman Historiography,’ in C. S. Kraus (ed.). The Limits of Historiography: Genre and Narrative in Ancient Historical Texts. Leiden (1999), pp. 281-324.
  • Marques, Juliana Bastos. Tradição e renovações da identidade romana em Tito Lívio e Tácito. Rio de Janeiro: Apicuri, 2012.
  • ______. Trabalhando com a história romana na Wikipédia: uma experiência em conhecimento colaborativo na universidade. Revista História Hoje, v. 2 (2013), p. 329-346.
  • ______. A historia magistra vitae e o pós-modernismo. História da Historiografia, v. 13 (2013), pp. 63-78.
  • Robinson, P. "Why do we believe Thucydides? A comment on WR Connor’s “Narrative discourse in Thucydides”." Jameson, M. H. (ed.) The Greek historians: literature and history: papers presented to AE Raubitschek. Saratoga: Anma Libri, (1985): 19-23.