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Time Maps
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Who were the first people to inhabit North America? Does the West Bank belong to the Arabs or the Jews? Why are racists so obsessed with origins? Is a seventh cousin still a cousin? Why do some societies name their children after dead ancestors?

As Eviatar Zerubavel demonstrates in Time Maps, we cannot answer burning questions such as these without a deeper understanding of how we envision the past. In a pioneering attempt to map the structure of our collective memory, Zerubavel considers the cognitive patterns we use to organize the past in our minds and the mental strategies that help us string together unrelated events into coherent and meaningful narratives, as well as the social grammar of battles over conflicting interpretations of history. Drawing on fascinating examples that range from Hiroshima to the Holocaust, from Columbus to Lucy, and from ancient Egypt to the former Yugoslavia, Zerubavel shows how we construct historical origins; how we tie discontinuous events together into stories; how we link families and entire nations through genealogies; and how we separate distinct historical periods from one another through watersheds, such as the invention of fire or the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Most people think the Roman Empire ended in 476, even though it lasted another 977 years in Byzantium. Challenging such conventional wisdom, Time Maps will be must reading for anyone interested in how the history of our world takes shape.
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About the Author

Eviatar Zerubavel is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University. He is the author of seven other books, including Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology, The Seven-Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week, and The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life.

Reviews

"[Zerubavel''s] erudition and insight are dazzling. . . . Here is a book for historians, educators, and social scientists alike. I cannot imagine it not appealing . . . to graduate students and liberal arts undergraduates. No work better captures the generic forms of collective memory; no investigator defines more clearly the objects of collective memory scholarship. "Time Maps" embodies the research tradition that Eviatar Zerubavel has done so much to advance."--Barry Schwartz, "American Journal of Sociology"--Barry Schwartz "American Journal of Sociology " "This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory."--Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine " "In this lively book, replete with illuminating examples, Zerubavel considers the cognitive patterns we, as societies, use to organize thoughts of the past. . . . Social memory is not a mere reproduction of objective facts and not entirely subjective either. Being social, and identifying with any social group, involves an ability to experience events that happened to the groups before we joined them, or maybe even existed, as if they were part of our own personal past. Groups acquaint members with their past, creating group memories and individual identifications with the group."--Mark Aultman "Kronoscope " "An excellent book. It is a pleasure to read, both for the range of examples and for the skillful work done to tie them together. And it advances our understanding of collective memory and social cognition by bridging numerous individual case studies to construct a general theory."--Andrew J. Perrin "Social Forces " In this lively book, replete with illuminating examples, Zerubavel considers the cognitive patterns we, as societies, use to organize thoughts of the past. . . . Social memory is not a mere reproduction of objective facts and not entirely subjective either. Being social, and identifying with any social group, involves an ability to experience events that happened to the groups before we joined them, or maybe even existed, as if they were part of our own personal past. Groups acquaint members with their past, creating group memories and individual identifications with the group. --Mark Aultman "Kronoscope "" "Best Books" "This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory." --Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine " "[Time Maps] makes scores of powerful points about the ways collectivities classify the passage of time, documented by appropriate, usually persuasive, and delightfully unpredictable illustrations. In the best tradition of symbolic interactionism it makes an accessible and convincing case for the pragmatic character of processes of social construction, in this instance of collective self-understandings and identities mediated through temporal classification." --Alan Warde "Sociology " "[Zerubavel] argues for a 'sociomental topography of the past' as a framework for understanding how time and cognition interact. His conception, therefore, is at once sociological, mental, and topographical--it combines influences of social patterns, cognitive processes, and visual organization. . . . Zerubavel shows that divisions of time are neither natural nor consensual; rather, they have particular histories and, more importantly, particular cultural roles. . . . The point is clear and has a pedigree reaching back to Durkheim and Mauss: culture's job is classification, and without classification we have no access to meaning, whether individual or shared." --Andrew J. Perrin "Social Forces " Best Books This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory. --Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine "" [Time Maps] makes scores of powerful points about the ways collectivities classify the passage of time, documented by appropriate, usually persuasive, and delightfully unpredictable illustrations. In the best tradition of symbolic interactionism it makes an accessible and convincing case for the pragmatic character of processes of social construction, in this instance of collective self-understandings and identities mediated through temporal classification. --Alan Warde "Sociology "" "[Zerubavel's] erudition and insight are dazzling. . . . Here is a book for historians, educators, and social scientists alike. I cannot imagine it not appealing . . . to graduate students and liberal arts undergraduates. No work better captures the generic forms of collective memory; no investigator defines more clearly the objects of collective memory scholarship. Time Maps embodies the research tradition that Eviatar Zerubavel has done so much to advance."--Barry Schwartz "American Journal of Sociology " "The quest for a universal framework for the study of social time is certainly audacious. . . . Zerubavel's preliminary exploration confirms the daunting challenges to such a venture, but he also draws attention to the many benefits that will accrue to a sociology that, at long last, takes seriously the centrality of time in social life."--Joseph M. Bryant "Contemporary Sociology " Best Books This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory. --Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine "" ["Time Maps"] makes scores of powerful points about the ways collectivities classify the passage of time, documented by appropriate, usually persuasive, and delightfully unpredictable illustrations. In the best tradition of symbolic interactionism it makes an accessible and convincing case for the pragmatic character of processes of social construction, in this instance of collective self-understandings and identities mediated through temporal classification. --Alan Warde "Sociology "" "Best Books" "This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory." --Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine " "["Time Maps"] makes scores of powerful points about the ways collectivities classify the passage of time, documented by appropriate, usually persuasive, and delightfully unpredictable illustrations. In the best tradition of symbolic interactionism it makes an accessible and convincing case for the pragmatic character of processes of social construction, in this instance of collective self-understandings and identities mediated through temporal classification." --Alan Warde "Sociology " "Best Books""This is a major contribution to the study of the social shape of memory."--Eric Hobsbawm "BBC History Magazine " "[Zerubavel] argues for a ''sociomental topography of the past'' as a framework for understanding how time and cognition interact. His conception, therefore, is at once sociological, mental, and topographical--it combines influences of social patterns, cognitive processes, and visual organization. . . . Zerubavel shows that divisions of time are neither natural nor consensual; rather, they have particular histories and, more importantly, particular cultural roles. . . . The point is clear and has a pedigree reaching back to Durkheim and Mauss: culture''s job is classification, and without classification we have no access to meaning, whether individual or shared."--Andrew J. Perrin "Social Forces "

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