The last decade or so has seen both a ‘temporal turn’ in historical research and a growth in memory studies, to the extent that as one historian has noted the discipline of history has refreshed itself. Historians have used public and private memories as a lens to observe and tell the stories of the past in the present. Memory is used to encode, process and save information. It gives meaning and legitimacy to the present. Of course, the concepts of time and memory in circulation are part of the Western episteme and there is an intimate connection between the imperial project and the imposition of Western temporalities and coercion to abandon indigenous temporalities. These processes not only fostered a ‘temporality of trauma’ but also had an impact on determining what and how moments and events were memorialised and by whom? What is forgotten and what is remembered is a political act, whether within the imperial project of colonial domination or under totalitarian regimes.
Time is not a neutral concept in which history ‘unfolds’ but as Christopher Clark notes in Time and Power (2019) it is ‘a contingent cultural construction whose shape, structure and texture have varied.’ The literature of the temporal turn has been particularly concerned with mapping a transition from pre-modern or traditional temporal orders to modern temporalities. So, how has this transition in temporality been experienced? Apprehending and experiencing time has been characterised by a sense of time accelerating and a consequent distancing from the past and its authority as a site of wisdom. Time has been experienced as discipline, as rhythm, as duration, as liminal. In the West the religious certainties associated with Christian beliefs about the future fractured because of the processes of cultural secularisation and consequently impacted on society’s ‘horizon of expectation.’ Time became a commodity that could be wasted. Such changes have contributed to a sense of nostalgia for what was perceived as lost including past imaginings of the future. At the same time History as a discipline has continued to be accommodated within a liner narrative of modernisation.
What is, and what can be the role of historians of education in addressing the temporal turn? How do we engage with memory and remembering in our field of study? How as historians do we see the past and our different but connected present? All these questions are what prompted the present call for papers.
Please submit abstracts of approximately c.300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 July 2021.
Download details of the Call for Papers for the History of Education Conference 2021 (PDF)