Our understanding of the past shapes our sense of the present and the future: this is historical consciousness. While academic history, public history, and the study of collective memory are thriving enterprises, there has been only sparse investigation of historical consciousness itself, in a way that relates it to the policy questions it raises in the present. WithTheorizing Historical Consciousness, Peter Seixas has brought together a diverse group of international scholars to address the problem of historical consciousness from the disciplinary perspectives of history, historiography, philosophy, collective memory, psychology, and history education.
Historical consciousness has serious implications for international relations, reparations claims, fiscal initiatives, immigration, and indeed, almost every contentious arena of public policy, collective identity, and personal experience. Current policy debates are laced with mutually incompatible historical analogies, and identity politics generate conflicting historical accounts. Never has the idea of a straightforward 'one history that fits all' been less workable.Theorizing Historical Consciousnesssets various theoretical approaches to the study of historical consciousness side-by-side, enabling us to chart the future study of how people understand the past.
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