Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Secret Histories

Every institution has a secret history. And every institution will always have people 'negotiating' the terms of that secret history. Nation-states are no different; even a young collective of states like the 232-year-old United States of America (started with 13 members, has 50 members and a few protectorates now) has innumerable secret histories, with the 'negotiation' beginning even before the ink on the Declaration of Independence was dry.

All of that shows that history is not always the immutable megalith that some people think it is; history is but the organised perspective that a person or group of people have of a large body of events and processes. Even determining the parameters of a historical domain can be difficult: witness for example the idea of the 'long' 19th century, which some say spans the period 1776-1914, from the outbreak of the American Revolution to the outbreak of the Great War.

A long 20th century has passed, but is it really over? The histories are still scrambling and being scrambled. More on this later.

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