The Historical Shiver

November 3, 2008

It seems to be fairly standard to draw a dividing line between memory and history on the grounds that the former is affective and sensory and the latter critical and dispassionate. Even theorists who propose a ‘reconciliation’ between the two continue to see them as sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum on this matter.[1]


I accept that history and memory represent different ways of approaching the past. However, I am struggling with the idea of history as fundamentally non-affective and non-sensory. Conversations with colleagues suggest that I am not the only one to experience a shiver at opening an untouched box of archives.

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