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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s