Historians recognize that some degree of temporal distance is a constitutive feature of all forms of historical representation. Without a measure of distance, in other words, there can be no such thing as an historical account. When we press on this common sense view of distance, however, it becomes clear that our sense of engagement and detachment in relation to the past involves much more than temporality alone; form, affect, ideology, and cognition are all important to the ways in which the past is perceived and described. When these additional dimensions are taken into account, distance emerges as a central axis of historiograpical analysis - one with important implications for understanding both the variety of present practice and the long history of historical thought.
In the late nineteenth century, in new historical writing on race, the figure of the white man under siege came quite suddenly to displace the triumphant Anglo-Saxon confidently spreading British settlement around the globe. Drawing on the new evidence made available by the census - especially with regard to the Americas and Asia - trans-national writers such as James Bryce and Charles Pearson directly challenged the assumptions of the older race history associated with English historian E. A. Freeman. In his influential National Life and Character: a Forecast (1893), Pearson, a prophet of decolonization, suggested that historical agency had passed to the 'Black and Yellow' races while the English had become 'stationary'. It is in this changing historical and intellectual context that the defensive project of 'White Australia' can be understood. Its chief architects - Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin and H. B. Higgins - were global thinkers and travellers and considered themselves to be at the cutting edge of world history.
Sidney Mintz's most significant contribution to the historical anthropology of the Caribbean is his argument about the inaugural and distinctive modernity of the region. This modernity, he suggests, one that 'predates the modern', was shaped by the singular colonial history of the proto-industrial character of the African slave-based sugar plantations that made the region one of the earliest overseas constituents of the emerging capitalist world economy. Indeed, Mintz's anthropological career begins in one of the projects - the Puerto Rico Project - that help to shift post-War US anthropology away from the Boasian salvaging of the 'primitive' towards the study of 'contemporary', that is, 'modern', people. Finally I suggest that Mintz's magnum opus, Sweetness and Power, while clearly a book about the interconnectedness of the world, grows out of lessons about commodities, modernity, and Europe first learned in his work on Puerto Rico.
This article is about guerrilla narratives of war, as told by veterans of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), one of two armies that fought in Zimbabwe's war for independence in the 1970s. Our discussion contributes a new perspective to the rich literature on Zimbabwe's liberation war, and to studies of soldiers' stories more broadly, by exploring the narrative form and content of these accounts. Guerrillas' stories highlight the transformative experience of becoming a soldier, the commonality of experience among guerrillas, and their strong sense of biographical trajectory. They underline the contrasts between their own and civilians' memories and experience of war. Guerrilla narratives are also revealing of the political uses of war history, at particular moments in time. In the mid-1990s, their stories highlighted the gulf between personal memory and public commemoration. ZIPRA guerrillas fought for the losing party in Zimbabwe's first elections. They were excluded from the official celebration of heroes, and in the 1980s they were, along with civilians, persecuted as a disloyal and dangerous threat to the nation. ZIPRA guerillas' narratives are critical of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU(PF) party, of its conduct during the war, and of its post-colonial uses of liberation war history. ZIPRA guerrillas wanted to gain public recognition for their sacrifices, to insert their experience into the nation's official history, and to underline the illegitimacy of ZANU(PF)'s uses of violence. Only five years later, however, these same guerrillas allied themselves to ZANU(PF) and collaborated in the production of a 'patriotic' history intended to legitimate an embattled and violently intolerant ruling party.
The article looks at Braudel's ideas of historical time, in particular how his passion for long-term continuity also constitutes an aversion to the idea of rupture or breaks in time, and his avoidance of clear periodization. At the same time, it considers the paradox that Braudel is happy to accept rupture and revolution in the context of the history of ideas.
This article discusses the everyday life of Berlin before, during and after the fall of the Wall in November 1989, in relation to the work of theorists such as Henri Lefebvre, Siegfried Kracauer and the Situationists, and everyday phenomena such as traffic lights, the S-Bahn system and the Trabant car. It examines the ways in which the Wall became part of everyday routine, concretizing the experience of boredom and waiting for ordinary Berliners. It then explores the efforts of Berliners to re-enchant these everyday routines and invest them with new meaning during the fall of the Wall, most notably through the carnivalesque transformation of both Western and Eastern forms of waiting - traffic jams and queues. Finally, it explores how Berliners had to relearn how to live their everyday lives after the fall of the Wall, the asymmetrical nature of the reunification process meaning that the burden of relearning these routines fell disproportionately on East Berliners. This moment of crisis in the reinvention of daily life brought into sharp relief what Lefebvre identifies as a particular characteristic of the everyday - its failure to keep pace with the historical possibilities of modernity.
When it comes to the personal history of individuals the question is one not merely of what kind of distance is preferable, but of what kind of distance is possible, meaning how much distance people must put between themselves and their pasts in order to remain psychically viable: which very often, as Freud showed, is no distance at all. Individuals with traumatic pasts (which, to a greater or lesser degree, is everyone), Freud demonstrated in his case studies, are driven to obsessively repeat traumatic scenarios. Having at once too much and too little distance from their past and, most notably, from their childhoods, they - that is all of us, to some extent - cannot become historians of their own lives, since they cannot allow any psychic gap, the space of symbolization and memory, between past events and present experiences. The past is lived as the present. It is this resistance to history-making that acts to shape fantasies about historic distance. Yet there are also those who treat themselves as historical actors in order to stave off the intolerable intimacy of presentness. What would it be like to be 'successful historians of our own lives'?
The difficulties and wonders about social history as felt in Britain and France since the 1980s are to a large extent political as social history was often associated with political movements in both countries. This may explain why what is often described in Britain as a revolution in historical fashion is not described in such dramatic terms in France. This article re-assesses recent developments in French historiography in light of debates about republicanism, and makes two claims. Firstly, while the links between republicanism and social history have been problematic since the times of Charles Seignobos and Marc Bloch, a new republican social history has emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Secondly, Pierre Bourdieu's significant though sometimes overlooked influence on French historians can be explained both by its implicit republicanism and by the fact that his sociology can be read as a response to the collapse of the Annales ideal of a unified social science based on mentalité, longue durée, and historical geography. While Bourdieu's concept of autonomy can be read as a republican theory of liberty, his concepts of habitus and social reproduction, together with his critique of geographical categories, have helped define a new social history of the French Republic.
The writings and projects of Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon and Louis-François Jauffret exemplify the intense interest in children and in the relation between childhood and (adult) identity in Enlightenment human science, an interest which resulted in the formation of two approaches to childhood: sentimental and scientific. Buffon, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, used children to support his views on man and society. Whereas for Rousseau original solitude required that children be construed as independent from a very early age, Buffon saw in children's weakness proof that sociability is an essential component of human nature. He thus made childhood central to human identity and human being. Jauffret, permanent secretary of the Society of Observers of Man, conceived the study of children as a privileged means to pursue the Observers' motto, 'know thyself', but his hesitations and aborted projects point to the conflict between his two identities as 'Observer of Man' and 'Friend of Children'. Buffon and Jauffret simultaneously participated in and resisted the advance of the scientific and sentimental approaches to childhood. The multiple roles of children in their works reveal the extent to which the child as object of scientific knowledge and normalizing intervention is the underside of the sentimental figure of natural and innocent childhood.
Benedict Anderson has argued that' nationality ... as well as nationalism, are cultural artifacts of a particular kind. To understand them properly we need to consider carefully how they have come into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command such profound emotional legitimacy'. The development of Caribbean museums, historically as part of the machinery of colonialism and latterly as an instrument of nation-building, offers interesting perspectives on issues relating to the ownership of heritage, the shaping public memories of the past, and the role of museums as manifestations of identity. Maturing Caribbean communities have balanced official histories, taking the initiative to develop 'community museums' defining their own notions of ethnic or geographical identities.