Does history matter any more? In an era when both the past and memory seem to be sources of considerable interest and, frequently, lively debate, has the academic discipline of history ceased to offer the connection between past and present experience that it was originally intended to provide? In short, has History become a bridge to nowhere, a structure over a river whose course has been permanently altered? This is the overarching question that the contributors to The River of History seek to answer. Drawn from a broad spectrum of scholarly disciplines, the authors tackle a wide range of more specific questions touching on this larger one. Does history, as it is practised in universities, provide any useful context for the average Canadian or has the task of historical consciousness-shaping passed to filmmakers and journalists? What can the history of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal conceptions of land and property tell us about contemporary relations between these cultures? Is there a way to own the past that fosters sincere stock-taking without proprietary interest or rigid notions of linearity? And, finally, what does the history of technological change suggest about humanity's ability to manage the process now and in the future? The philosopher Heraclitus once likened history to a river and argued for its otherness by stating that "No man can cross the same river twice, because neither the man nor the river is the same." This collection reconsiders this conceptualization, taking the reader on a journey along the river in an effort to better comprehend the ways in which past, present, and future are interconnected.
Peter Farrugia is an associate professor of History and Contemporary Studies at the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University.
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