History: spaces, races, faces, places

Adam Gopnik brings us this interesting conceptualization of the evolution of history. The history of spaces underlies everything: “the history of terrains and territories … where plains and rivers and harbors shape the social places above … or around them.”

The first written history tends to be a “history of races. Our tribe’s myth is here, yours is over there, our race is called ‘the people’ and blessed by the gods….” (Your tribe? Not so much.)

The next evolution of history is that of faces: history as “the epic acts of bosses and chiefs … kings and Popes and sultans in conflict….”

And then there is the history of places: “where the ingathering of people and classes in a single city or state makes a historical whole bigger than any one face within it.”

Source: “Faces, Places, Spaces — The Renaissance of Geographic History,” Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, October 29 and November 5, 2012

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