A proposito della «invenzione della tradizione»

ANNO 54 2013
David Bidussa

On the «invention of tradition»
This paper deals with the history of the «invention of tradition» as a historic concept in Hobsbawm’s historical inquiry. In 1983, Hobsbawm and T. Ranger edited a book of essays on the building of social memory. This paper analyses the contents of the two essays by Hobsbawm that appeared in it. Hobsbawm already disclosed some ideas on this concept in the early 1970s (The social function of the past, in «Past & Present», 1972) and at the end of that decade (The revival of Narrative, in «Past & Present», 1980). After the publication of The Invention of Tradition, Hobsbawm, at least three times, wrote systematically on memory as construction and invention: in 1989, in Nation and Nationalism; during the nineties in On History; and in 2012, in his last book, Fractured Times, in which he wrote: «There is a major difference between the traditional scholar’s questions about the past – What happened in history, when and why? – and the question that has, in the last 40 years or so, come to inspire a growing body of historical research: namely, How do or did people feel about it? Studies of historical memory are essentially not about the past, but about the retrospect to it of some subsequent present».

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