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Journal Article

Review: NATIONALIZING HISTORY AND THE CHALLENGE OF DISCORDANT TEMPORALITIES: National History and the World of Nations: Capital, State, and the Rhetoric of History in Japan, France, and the United States by Christopher L. Hill

Reviewed Work: National History and the World of Nations: Capital, State, and the Rhetoric of History in Japan, France, and the United States by Christopher L. Hill
Review by: Harry Harootunian
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 3 (October 2010), pp. 435-446
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40864502
Page Count: 12
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NATIONALIZING HISTORY AND THE CHALLENGE OF DISCORDANT TEMPORALITIES
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Abstract

Christopher Hill's National History and the World of Nations reminds us of the conjunctural moment of an emerging world market in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the promise it offered for vitalizing a "world history" yet to be written. More importantly, it supplies the silhouette of a radically different interpretive approach, formed by the force of a centrifugal perspective that—through its concentration on how France, the United States, and Japan were simultaneously motivated to construct representations of self-identity in national narratives—converged to disclose the possibility of a wider world no longer held hostage to the geopolitical category of the "West." Hill's account shows that the impulse behind the formation of national history employed different strategies to imagine a singular linear historical narrative of national identity that aimed both to remove the spectacle of coexisting, different, multiple temporalities and to weld large and regionally disparate populations into a single people who, in a new time, would be instructed to recognize themselves in the nation's story. In Hill's reckoning, national history in France, the United States, and Japan appears simply as another name for historical necessity that sought, through processes of naturalization and nationalization, to overcome the unstable and uneven relationship between state and capital but that failed to conceal the deeper reality of determinations demanded by the relations of capital at the local and international levels.

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