Histories and Competitive Societies: Temporal Foundations for Global Theory

August 2, 2012 from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Hickman Room 105
University of Victoria, Victoria, BC


The Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives held it’s annual Albert Hung Chao Hong lecture on August 2, 2012 at UVic. Dr. Prasenjit Duara, Raffles Professor of Humanities at the National University of Singapore, discussed his theories on national histories and storytelling to an interested audience in his lecture, "Histories and Competitive Societies: Temporal Foundations for Global Theory."

One of the main themes Dr. Duara discussed was how nations tell their histories in a linear way, when history can also be seen as circular, as ideas are shared between countries. Duara argued that in ancient times, civilizations constructed their own historical stories that were linear, but as nations evolved and interacted with each other into the 19th century, these histories became shared and influenced one another. We can see this broadly with standard ideas that are similar across the world, such as schooling for children and laws around marriage.

Dr. Duara argued that national histories serve a purpose and give nations a sense of identity and pride. Nowadays, however, although nations may claim to be unique, each nation's history is influenced by and is a combination of many others. Duara postulated that looking at a circular view of history gives us a more accurate picture of our shared stories through time.

This lecture was the keynote of the 2012 Demcon conference De-parochializing Political Theory.

Our profound thanks to Dr. Duara for giving such an interesting lecture.