THE “INS” AND “OUTS” OF HISTORY: REVISION AS NON-PLACE

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ABSTRACT

Revision in history is conventionally characterized as a linear sequence of changes over time. Drawing together the contributions of those engaged in historiographical debates that are often associated with the term “revision,” however, we find our attention directed to the spaces rather than the sequences of history. Contributions to historical debates are characterized by the marked use of spatial imagery and spatialized language. These used to suggest both the demarcation of the “space of history” and the erasure of existing historiographies from that space. Bearing these features in mind, the essay argues that traditional, temporally oriented explanations for revision in history, such as Thomas S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, miss the mark, and that a more promising line of explanation arises from the combined use of Michel Foucault's idea of “heterotopias” and Marc Augé's idea of “non-places.” Revision in history is to be found where writers use imagery to move readers away from rival historiographies and to control their movement in the space of history toward their desired vision. Revision is thus associated more with control than with liberation.

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