Journal Article

The Past is Another Country

Luc Sante

in History Workshop Journal

Volume 54, issue 1, pages 221-225
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1363-3554
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4569 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hwj/54.1.221
The Past is Another Country

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  • History of Gender and Sexuality
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The author emigrated to the United States from Belgium as a child, and he regards himself as an immigrant still, many years later. While he feels detached from the country in which he lives, his allegiance is not to the country of his birth, either. The cultural and technological distance between Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the United States of the same period was such that it could be measured in decades rather than miles. As a result, the author early on came to think of himself as a citizen of the past. This status does not mean that he is in thrall to nostalgia or luddism, although he is unimpressed by the notion of progress, but it has left him with a peculiar fascination for the highly subjective and impalpable factors that determine the flavour of a particular era. In early adolescence, chance readings gave him entry to the past, its flavours and colours rather than mere data, through the decoding of ephemeral documents. Texts and images not intended for posterity reveal past eras as they felt to those who inhabited them. Knowledge of such things helps to combat historical amnesia and the jingoism of the present.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: History of Gender and Sexuality ; Public History ; Labour History ; Oral History ; Social and Cultural History

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