Mapping Historical Consciousness: Mental Maps of Time and Space among Secondary School Students from Ten Locations around the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas

Abstract

The article investigates the temporal and spatial structure of historical consciousness among secondary school students from ten locations around the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. It examines what eras and spaces in history that are important to the students, and discusses how the mental maps of individuals at a certain location are affected by geopolitics and interpretations of historical experiences. The results are mainly based upon one open survey question: Write down the name of as many important historical figures as possible within five minutes. Psychological theories of memory are used in order to explain how such simple memory retrieval can be used in studies of historical consciousness. The data from the survey is presented in the form of maps, using techniques of mental mapping developed by geographers. The empirical investigation reveals three categories of historical consciousness: national, found in Italy and Morocco, Americanized, found in Sweden, and multipolar, found in Estonia and on Åland and Malta. The article argues that each of the three strands of historical consciousness is linked to specific historical and geopolitical circumstances.

About the Author
  Janne Holmén is a historian, currently attached to the Department of History, Uppsala University, Åbo Akademi University and the Institute of Contemporary History, Södertörn University. His main research interests are historiography, mental mapping, textbook research, island studies, history didactic, educational history and comparative history.

 

Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. Historical Consciousness
1.2. Mental Mapping
1.3. The Schools
1.4. From Survey to Map
2. THREE CATEGORIES OF HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS
2.1. National Historical Consciousness: Morocco and Italy
2.2. Americanized Historical Consciousness
2.3. Multipolar Historical Consciousness: Estonia, Åland and Malta
3. CONCLUSIONS

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