Remembered Worlds: Rethinking Historical Space in a Global Age

  • Tessa Morris-Suzuki Australian National University
Keywords: Memory, History, Historiography, Space, Area Studies, Globalization


The past decade has witnessed intense controversies over the spatial frameworks which we use to understand the past. New notions of diasporic or global history contend with the views of those who seek to defend the image of the nation as the dominant framework for historical understanding. At the same time, debates over area studies raise questions about the notion of civilizational regions as a basis for understanding society. This paper seeks to place these debates in context by exploring the origins of contemporary spatial frameworks of social and historical knowledge. In particular, it focuses on two key developments in mid-twentieth century thought. The first may be described as 'the national mobilization of memory': the process by which individuals increasingly came to identify their personal memories with national history. The second was the growing use of world regions, defined by cultural commonalities, as a basis for studying social change. This exploration of the origins of key contemporary frameworks of historical thought seeks to shed light on future directions for developing new spatial perceptions of the past.


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