‘The Times They Are a-Changin’. On Time, Space and Periodization in History

In this chapter, Lorenz analyzes recent evolutions in the study of historical time and highlights the relationship between history and modernity. First, he addresses Reinhart Koselleck’s idea that ‘exponential acceleration’ is the core of modernity and how this idea informs the ‘presentism’ of Francois Hartog and Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht. Second, Lorenz focuses on the rise of modernity and history as a discipline and how ‘modern history’ as a period has created all other periods. Third, the connections between modern linear time and space are traced, including its ‘relativization’ since Einstein. Lorenz argues that postmodern and postcolonial ideas have led to a spatial ‘relativization’ of historical time. Fourth, the chapter returns to the issue of periodization in history and its interconnections with constructions of space and identity.