How the Past Was Used: Historical Cultures, c. 750-2000

ISBN : 9780197266120

Peter Lambert; Bjorn Weiler
450 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jul 2017
Proceedings of the British Academy
Send mail

This book explores how societies put the past to use and how, in the process, they represented it: in short, their historical culture. It brings together anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars to address the means by which societies, groups, and individuals have engaged with the past and expressed their understanding of it. The utility of the past has proven almost as infinitely variable as the modes of its representation. It might be a matter of learning lessons from experience, or about the legitimacy of a cause or regime, or the reputation of an individual. Rival versions and interpretations reflected, but also helped to create and sustain, divergent communities and world views. With so much at stake, manipulations, distortions, and myths proliferated. But given also that evidence of past societies was fragmentary, fragile, and fraught with difficulties for those who sought to make sense of it, imaginative leaps and creativity necessarily came into the equation. Paradoxically, the very idea that the past was indeed useful was generally bound up with an image of history as inherently truthful. But then notions of truth proved malleable, even within one society, culture, or period. Concerned with what engagements with the past can reveal about the wider intellectual and cultural frameworks they took place within, this book is of relevance to anyone interested in how societies, communities, and individuals have acted on their historical consciousness.


Peter Lambert & Bjorn Weiler: Introduction
Peter Lambert: I. What is Historical Culture?
Bjorn Weiler: II. Themes in Historical Culture
1 Dimitris Krallis: Imagining Rome in Medieval Constantinople: Memory, Politics, and the Past in the Middle Byzantine Period
2 Haki Antonsson: The Present and the Past in the Sagas of Icelanders
3 Bjorn Weiler: Monastic Historical Culture and the Utility of a Remote Past: The Case of Matthew Paris
4 Dimitri Kastritsis: Legend and Historical Experience in Fifteenth-Century Ottoman Narratives of the Past
5 Richard Kagan: The Chronicler and the Count: Law, Libel, and History in the Early Modern Atlantic World
6 Allison Busch: The Poetry of History in Early Modern India
7 Peter Lambert: The Immediacy of a Remote Past: The Saxon Wars of 772-804 in the 'Cultural Struggles' of the Third Reich
8 Matthew Phillips: Ancient Past, Modern Ceremony: Thailand's Royal Barge Procession in Historical Context
9 Joanne Rappaport: La Rosca de Investigacion y Accion Social: Reimagining History as Collaborative Exchange in 1970s Colombia
10 T.H. Barrett: Chinese History as a Constructed Continuity: The Work of Rao Zongyi
11 Richard Rathbone: Memory as Theatre: Using a Ghanaian Ritual to Recall Past Greatness and to Redress Recent Reverses
Peter Lambert & Bjorn Weiler: Conclusion: Future Directions?

About the author: 

Peter Lambert, Aberystwyth University;Bjorn Weiler, Aberystwyth University

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.