Re-Writing the Past

Institute of Historical Research: 3rd-5th July 2002

“This year sees the fiftieth anniversary of Past and Present and one of the purposes of the seventy-first Anglo-American Conference is to mark and to celebrate this half-century. First published in February 1952, Past and Present has long been recognised as one of the foremost historical journals in the English-speaking world. From the very beginning, it sought to encompass the whole of human history, to draw its contributors from around the globe, to encourage controversy and disagreement, to welcome approaches and contributions provided by other disciplines, and to address large issues and broad themes in prose that was both scholarly and accessible.

But as befits a journal which has constantly sought to stress the interconnectedness of the past and present, and to identify and stimulate new approaches to the study of history, this anniversary conference will be primarily concerned with a timely and substantive task: to ask how and why and where and by whom the past has been – and still is – regularly re-written.

This continual re-writing is partly because of the dynamic inherent in the scholarly process; but it is also because of broader changes and specific imperatives in politics, society and culture. Under the general heading of ‘Re-Writing the Past’, the conference will explore such themes as: the liquidation of the past; the invention and dis-invention of tradition; the politics of historiographical revision; history as myth, memory and identity; the creation and contestation of historical epochs and periods; competing versions of the same past; history as propaganda and history as protest; history as orthodoxy and history as heresy; globalisation, IT and world history.”

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