Time is the conceptual axis inevitably underpinning traditional forms of Western historical narration, yet its cultural construction is not often explicitly discussed in contemporary historiography research. Recently postcolonial studies gave momentum to the calling into question of categories such as modernity, progress, crisis, revolution.
R. Koselleck’s work still constitutes a landmark, which is presently enjoying new critical fortune (e.g. excellent essays by L. Hunt 2008 and C. Lorenz 2017 discuss his recent theoretical legacy) as part of current post-colonial questioning of traditional Euro- and/or Western-centric periodizations. In this regard, it seems to me that scholarly attentiveness and theoretical refinement have been on the increase, especially since the nineteen-nineties.
I enjoined dwelling on these and other temporal issues to prepare a seminar conducted by Guido Abbattista in Trieste.
In this occasion I had the pleasure to develop some reflections on time as a dimension in which historical discourse is organized to produce meaning, interrogating what theorists such as Paul Ricoeur and Hayden White contributed to our understanding of causal mechanisms construction in historical research and communication.
Acknowledging how historical processes might look from the perspective of different temporal scales, and fictional scenarios provided by alternate history might also be useful tools to help us see and thematize the “temporal lenses” through which we look at the past.