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A clash of histories

Encounters of migrant and non-migrant laborers in the Canadian automobile parts industry

Belinda Leach

This article considers the confrontations between immigrant and non-immigrant workers in the workplace and the implications of these confrontations for workplace unity and class formation. Contributing to scholarship at the intersection of history, class, and migration, the article argues that workers bring to work histories that are constructed as oppositional. The roots of these oppositions lie in shared but different histories of dispossession and migration, masked by dominant cultural and class narratives, which privilege non-immigrant histories that are class-based, masculinist, and nationalist, and subordinate those of immigrants. In the process, neo-liberal agendas are bolstered. Questions of how such processes take place are important for understanding class formation within societies with large immigrant populations.

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John Keane

In this critical commentary, John Keane defends, extends, and reasserts the role of history in democratic theory through an articulation of seven methodological rules: (1) treat the remembrance of things past as vital for democracy’s present and future; (2) regard the languages, characters, events, institutions, and effects of democracy as a thoroughly historical way of life and handling of power; (3) pay close attention to the ways in which the narration of the past by historians, leaders, and others is unavoidably a time-bound, historical act; (4) see that the methods that are most suited to writing about the past, present, and future of democracy draw attention to the peculiarity of their own rules of interpretation; (5) acknowledge that, until quite recently, most details of the history of democracy have been recorded by its critics; (6) note that the negative tone of most previous histories of democracy confirms the rule that tales of its past told by historians often harbor the prejudices of the powerful; and (7) admit that the task of thinking about the past, present, and future of democracy is by definition an unending journey. There can be no Grand Theory of Democracy.

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Semantics of Time and Historical Experience

Remarks on Koselleck's Historik

Luca Scuccimarra

Moving from Koselleck's most recent essays on Historik, the author explores the role played by historiography in the constitution of historicity as a peculiar experiential dimension of human existence. The essay focuses on the complex link between difference and repetition which, according to Koselleck's theory of experience, constitutes a “specific historical temporality” and its inner articulation. Actually, it is by exploring the “formal temporal structures” which constitute the horizon of historical intelligibility that Koselleck brings to light the decisive role that the point of view of historiography has for the constitution of man as the subject of historical knowledge and action. It is difficult to ignore the importance of this theory of historical temporalization in an age in which the End of History rhetoric tends to transform itself in a sort of media gospel.

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Dolling Up History

Fictions of Jewish American Girlhood

Lisa Marcus

The launching of a Jewish American Girl doll in 2009 provides an occasion for exploring the fictions of Jewish American girlhood constructed and consumed in the twenty-first century. Though the Rebecca Rubin doll seemed to herald a progressive version of Jewish American girlhood, Rebecca and the box-set of books that accompany her repackage a nostalgic and triumphalist narrative in which America figures as a benevolent sanctuary and the Holocaust, American anti-Semitism, and the costs of assimilation are elided and smoothed away. This is a narrative we've seen before—most notably in the importing and Americanizing of Anne Frank as an icon of Jewish girlhood, and in Sydney Taylor's beloved All Of A Kind Family series of children's books. These dolled-up versions of history stand in stark contrast to the darker, more complex visions of childhood and history seen in the work of Adrienne Rich, which reminds us to be wary of buying into such nostalgic icons of girlhood.

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The Burden of History

The Defeat of Second-Wave Feminism in Greece

Margaret Poulos

The specificity of national histories shapes the priorities, tensions, and character of respective feminist movements. In the case of Greece, several waves of occupation and resistance from the Second World War to the Colonels dictatorship (1967-1974) gave rise to a broad-based and complex women's movement in the 1970s. This paper investigates the main division in the movement between (a) activists who espoused the autonomy of feminist politics in the spirit of Western European and American feminisms and (b) activists who aligned women's liberation with the projects of the Greek socialist and communist left. This article seeks to illuminate the ways in which second-wave feminism was shaped by the legacy of the Second World War when, in popular memory, the notions of freedom, justice, and equality became identified with the Greek left. While the rift enriched the women's movement, deeply entrenched beliefs in feminism as a subdivision of mainstream politics prevailed and ultimately stifled the development of an enduring contemporary feminist political culture in Greece.

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Chinichi Arai

Despite modernization of the Japanese school system after 1872, this period was marked by the war in East Asia and nationalism focusing on the emperor, whereby the imperial rescript of 1890 defined the core of national education. Following defeat in the Second World War, Japan reformed its education system in accordance with a policy geared towards peace and democracy in line with the United Nations. However, following the peace treaty of 1951 and renewed economic development during the Cold War, the conservative power bloc revised history textbooks in accordance with nationalist ideology. Many teachers, historians and trade unions resisted this tendency, and in 1982 neighboring countries in East Asia protested against the Japanese government for justifying past aggression in history textbooks. As a result, descriptions of wartime misdeeds committed by the Japanese army found their way into textbooks after 1997. Although the ethnocentric history textbook for Japanese secondary schools was published and passed government screening in 2001, there is now a trend towards bilateral or multilateral teaching materials between Japan, South Korea, and China. Two bilateral and one multilateral work have been published so far, which constitute the basis for future trials toward publishing a common textbook.

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William Palmer

This article concerns "revision in history," which refers to the process by which existing conceptions about what constitutes good history are challenged and replaced by different approaches. Between roughly 1920 and 1975 there were several periods of historical revision in Great Britain and the United States. My article argues that each was brought about by a combination of dissatisfaction on the part of historians with existing approaches, the influence of ideas from other disciplines, and changes going on in the world at the time.

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Memory, History, and Ego-Histoire

Narrating and Re-enacting the Australian Freedom Ride

Ann Curthoys

This article explores the intersections between history, memoir, and collective memory. It re ects on my experience of writing, as both historian and former participant, about the 1965 Australian Freedom Ride, which protested racial discrimination against Aboriginal people. It also traces the ways in which memory of and discourse about that event has changed over time: how it was and is remembered and understood, and the di erent uses made of the event by Aboriginal people, educators, and historians.

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Jaro Stacul

This article analyzes the reorganization of public memory space in postsocialist Poland and how the state and municipal councils use it to legitimate themselves. Drawing on research conducted in Gdańsk, the birthplace of the social movement (Solidarność) that questioned the legitimacy of the socialist state in the 1980s, it examines the proposed redevelopment of the shipyard where the movement was formed. While the redevelopment sets out to create a public memory space, it is rife with contradictions, for it involves demolishing many buildings associated with the movement. What legitimated the municipal council’s authority over its memorial landscapes was not so much its rediscovery of complex local histories as it was its ability to define the local past in “material” terms.

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Nathan Bracher

Appearing in English translation in the first half of 2016, some four years after their publication in the original French, both Ivan Jablonka’s A History of the Grandparents I Never Had and Henry Rousso’s The Latest Catastrophe reflect on the foundations of history and historiography. Why do we study the past and how? In answering those essential questions, both Rousso and Jablonka tell a story, the story of history, while at the same time adumbrating the “morals” of history in terms of epistemology, historiography, and narration. Following rigorous methods and rules of evidence, contemporary history strives to be a science, yet on several levels remains a matter of conscience that is an eminently human, if at times all-too-human, endeavor.