09 January 2009


*Note: The following is taken (and only slightly adapted) from a seminar paper of mine for Fall 2008. It examines the idea of 'super-modernity' and fragmentary history...

...as Marc Augé points out in his book, Non-Places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, this collecting of fragmentary histories into ‘history proper’ is what anthropological history (which he seems to equate with history generally) consists of. A modern historian, working within the confines of the social sciences, takes a collection (a sample) of personal histories and constructs a narrative from them. This narrative, then, becomes ‘recorded history’. Augé’s concept of ‘supermodernity’ (which operates as something like a ‘happier’ alternative to postmodernity), however, problematizes this ‘final narrative’ due to the fact that the time between history and the present becomes ever smaller. That is, ‘historical events’ need no longer be from 50, 25, or even 5 years ago, instead, the personal event can, in some sense, be aware of itself as historical event. Supermodernity, then, is the coming together of unfathomable numbers of historical events, so that, like in postmodernity, there can exist no over-arching historical narratives. Unlike this postmodern history, however, supermodern history does not dismiss the possibility of the existence of these narratives, these ‘truths’, but only acknowledges the impossibility (or perhaps merely extreme unlikeliness) of knowing them.

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