Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Nostalgia and imperfect assimilations

History and the Politics of Nostalgia by Marcos Piason Natali

"Throughout eighteenth-century Europe the word would gradually be adopted by specialists and laypeople alike to describe a disease provoked by excessive attachment to a distant homeland, a condition at first thought to be common particularly among natives of mountainous regions. By the end of the eighteenth century, the notion was expanded to include pathological attachment to any faraway place and, later, to distant times and persons ... The word nostalgia would [later] come to be used increasingly as a means of representing problems of a different sort, namely ones related to politics and empiricism. The force of the term’s accusatory energy would be based not on medical discourse but on ideas about politics and history, as these were expressed in philosophies of history, in political discourse, and in psychoanalytic theory. In effect, the word was transformed from a disease of memory—one of the maladies de la mémoire—into a problem of the imperfect assimilation of the categories and practices of history, that is, the condition of those who did not have what in modernity gradually became the dominant relationship to the past. Nostalgia thus became a label used to define those who fell outside of the modern framework."

from Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies Issue #5 : Nostalgia

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