Uncanny History

Temporal Topology in the Post-Ottoman World

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 University College London c.stewart@ucl.ac.uk
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Abstract

Post-Ottoman temporal topologies—cases where the past, present, and future may be bent around one another rather than ordered linearly—may produce uncanny histories. The uncanny is activated, as Freud noted, when something secret comes to light, but also when the expectations of a given genre are exceeded. In these cases, the genre of historicism has been violated. Rather than contending that the post-Ottoman world is entirely different from Western Europe, the examples here alert one to the presence of uncanny histories in many other places since historicism has nowhere managed to eradicate its alternatives. Unsettled pasts of violence and displacement and presents beset by ongoing tensions (political, economic, religious/ethnic) do contribute, however, to a particular vitality and saliency of uncanny histories in the post-Ottoman sphere.

Contributor Notes

Charles Stewart is a Professor of Anthropology at University College London. He has conducted field research in Greece (Naxos, Athens, Thessaloniki) on the topics of religion, dreaming, and local forms of historical practice. He is the co-editor, with Eric Hirsch, of a special issue of History and Anthropology titled “Ethnographies of Historicity” (2005), and he is the author of Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece (2012).

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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