Braudel’s “historical space” theory

The second-generation historian of the French Almanac school, Braudel, has been widely valued by the academic community. However, in the study of his historical thought, the issues of geography and “space” have not received enough attention. Even scholars who noticed this issue mainly interpreted the “geographical determinism” of long-term ideas, and then criticized Broaddale. Without considering Braudel’s historical thought from a spatial perspective, there is a lack of a unified path of time and space. The understanding and evaluation of Broaddale thus obtained may be biased. Therefore, looking at Braudel’s historical writing from a spatial perspective, we can understand the meaning of space and time in historical writing, so that we can examine the inspiration of historical space to the way of thinking about historical space.

I. Geographical basis of Braudel’s historical writing

From the historical writing of Braudel, we can interpret the relationship between his geographical thinking and historical research. The reasons are as follows: First, the research started by Braudel in the early and mid 20th century was greatly influenced by geography, and this influence Is irreplaceable. Second, Braudel himself holds the idea of ​​a “comprehensive discipline.” In his opinion, thinking in history and geography was important.

(I) Impregnation of French Geography Tradition

In terms of geography, Braudel was mainly influenced by the French tradition of geography and Lucien Feiffel. “In terms of geography, it has a deep tradition in France. In this tradition of research, a A thorough investigation of the ecology of a region or community, combining location and environment with a keen sense “[1] 58-76. Braudel was very familiar with the work of the French geography school Labrache, reaffirming the geospatial concept of the geography school [2] 203-204. Prior to meeting Feffer, although Brodale had acquired the basic literacy of geography, his historical thinking focused on historical figures. After in-depth exchanges with Favor, Braudel took the geographical area “Mediterranean” as the main object of thought, thereby expanding his research direction in the future [3] 197-222. In previous historical studies, the Mediterranean as a whole spatial region is difficult to be the subject of research. Because historical research in the past mainly focused on historical events and historical figures, it rarely focused on geographic units. Even if it involves geospatial space, it is only used as a background to assist historical events, rather than as the main narrative object. Therefore, Braudel’s unique contribution to the yearbook school paradigm is called “geographic-historical structuralism” [4] 209-224. Braudel is sometimes even regarded as a geographer. Looking through the book “The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II” (hereinafter referred to as “Mediterranean”), you will have the impression that Broder’s historical writing is centered on the Mediterranean and the ocean is the main body of narration This kind of perspective centered on a certain river basin or sea area was rare before the middle of the 20th century [5] 290-300. Braudel’s understanding of the significance of geography and space to historical research is reflected in his elaboration of “overall history.”

(II) Geographical space is the core dimension of Braudel’s “overall history” concept

Braudel thought about the fusion between history and geography around the 1940s. In achieving this integration, he emphasized the “overall history” research. He strongly advocates the establishment of a comprehensive discipline that restores the natural connection between history and geography. Therefore, in the historical writing of Broaddale, the consideration of geographical factors accounted for a large proportion. Many of his writings can be considered as works of human geography. One of the contributions of the book “Mediterranean” is that for the first time, Brodale elaborated on the theory of three periods-long period, medium period and short period. From a geographic perspective, these three periods actually refer to three different levels of space-geographic environment and climate, social environment, and event scenarios. This distinction is based on a general history, that is, to understand history, we must grasp these outlines and think. Without these outlines, history would be chaotic, neither a part nor a whole. Because it is meaningless to distinguish between whole and part in chaos. In fact, both the French geography tradition and Braudel’s “overall history” ideas are incorporated into Braudel’s consideration of space, which is what Braudell understands-France The spirit of “geographic space” in tradition.

Second, Braudel’s spatial thinking

Braudel also clearly expressed his cognition of the relationship between geography and humanities and social sciences while combing the three periods, that is, dividing three spatial levels. He was in “Is there a geography of biological humans? “(1944) states,” Any way of juxtaposing human events to geography must be done in at least two ways: merge into space and into social order. ” Therefore, “geography is the study of social space in general, or if I insist on my opinion, it is the study of society through space” [6] 128. Here he mainly emphasizes the complex relationship between place and society. The spatial location is not a static passive background element, but a shaping element integrated with society. In this way, from a historical perspective, geography has participated in historical events, or even a dimension of history, and has shaped the face of society with history. Geography itself, in the process, has acquired the full richness of the history of society.

1. Geography and history are inseparable

In fact, history and geography are inherently inseparable, as is historical time and geographical space. The “left picture and right history” in Chinese tradition indicates that the “map” of geography and the “history” of history should be cross-referenced and mutually footnotes. Since modern times, the classification of knowledge in the West has dominated the classification of knowledge and disciplines in today’s world. In the 19th century, history and geography were independent, and the two developed independently according to their own set of research objects and methods. Since the development of the two disciplines according to their respective theories and knowledge, many professionals in history and geography have realized the need to learn from each other’s thinking while maintaining their professional characteristics. In Broaddale’s research, history and other disciplines such as geography and sociology are closely linked. Braudel admits that in this expansion of space-time comparison, he wanted to write history, “but the book he wrote is somewhere between history and other humanities” [7] 2.

Therefore, Braudel’s historical research can sometimes be regarded as a study of geography. For example, in “Characteristics of France”, his exposition on the issue of French history and borders is an example of this. “Habitat is the beginning of survival. France had its borders and its habitat long before it officially existed. “It can be seen that history tends to the immobilization of the border. It seems that the cause of the border is purely accidental, but once combined with the region, it takes root and is difficult to move.” Therefore, “the direction of the boundary is determined by the slowly passing history”, and “the theoretical basis of the natural boundary only finally won in the period of the Great Revolution” [8] 253-265. When Brodale was talking about “slowly passing history”, he was actually talking about a long period of time, and “taking root” was just another expression of geographic latitude. Another example is the relationship between geography and French history. “The unified France, the overall image, has been formed after all, and it has taken a long time … space and environment have even promoted the unification of France. This France has been established in its own region and stands in Europe and the world Therefore, the title I took for the last chapter is “Is geography creating France?” [8] 16. A direct consequence of Braudel’s adherence to this long-term thinking is that some scholars have classified him as a “geographical determinist.” In fact, Brodale has long clarified that the long-term concept is not a geographical determinism, but a stability and inertia: “It is worth noting that for a long time, the above-mentioned family types have always occupied the same geographical space. In a relatively fixed state, what anthropologists encounter here is stability and ‘stiffness, which is a long period of cultural reality.’ [8] 81

(B) Braudel’s unified thinking on time and space

Braudel raised the status of spatial and geographical factors to complete the thinking of unity of time and space. To be precise, the writing practice of Braudel’s “historical space” is also a way of thinking in geography [9] 1-13. It is difficult to prescribe or divide Broder’s research with a certain discipline, but space is undoubtedly a more appropriate perspective of observation, and space can indeed be distinguished from Broder’s research practice. In writing, whether in the book “Mediterranean”, “History and Social Science: Long Time”, or the unfinished legacy “Characteristics of France”, Braudel is both time and space, and even Let the space-related parts take up a larger proportion. Moreover, several of Braudel’s tombs are written in a spatial style.

Space is a dimension of Braudel’s thinking. In his thinking about history, the weight of “space” is getting heavier. In his later years, “Characteristics of France,” the first series, “Space and History,” focused on geography, juxtaposing space with history. This shows his position and thinking. The main content of the second part of “People and Things” is demographics and political economy, which is an extension of the first part. Braudel pointed out that “geography is the most specific means of observation” [8] 12. Because from the perspective of history, geography provides at least one methodology and world view to history. Braudel takes space, history and human relations as the main thread of the first series. He pointed out the relationship between geospatial and history: “Many words, ‘land,’ humane atmosphere, ‘natural environment,’ ecosystem, refer to geography’s contribution to history. Geographical comparisons can give us the most enriching lessons. Comparable historical archives. ” Regarding the guiding ideology of the first part, Braudel said: “What I try to explain is the diverse, intricate and difficult relationship between the history of France and the territory; the territory contains and carries the history, and It is possible to interpret history in a similar way, although it is far from perfect to explain history. “[8] 15-16 This can also be regarded as a declaration of the practice of historical space in Braudel. In fact, Braudel’s thinking on space has been incorporated into the problem domain of “historical space” writing. This is what Langisie concluded when examining Broder’s “Mediterranean”: “Only the geography of historical time will enable this long-term and collective phenomenon to fight the chronicles of kings and events. Leading to the dictatorial kingship of an economist or a sociologist … historic space is first and foremost a symbolic space, a surface engraved with time as a producer of meaning. “[10] 169

(3) The duality of spatial thinking

In today’s geography and sociology, the concept of space is a concentrated expression of human geography and social studies, but the thinking on the issue of “space” is absent in the study of modern historical theory. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that Foucault said, “Anyway, I think the cause of anxiety in our time is space, not time. For us, time may only be manifested by the diversity of elements in space. One of the configuration combinations “[11] 2. Braudel has seen that space is no longer just a geographical space of biological people, but also a historical space of social people. “Natural landscapes and geographical spaces are not only living realities, but also largely in the past. The continuity of the horizon is displayed in front of us and reproduced through a brand new scene: the land is doomed to preserve scars of all kinds of old wounds like skin “[8] 15.

Braudel’s approach is actually a way of analyzing historical phenomena and exploring historical depth, which includes a kind of dualism. This dualism is that the way of space is both a means of analysis and a narrative logic of objects. In addition, this manifests itself in history as: historical research conducted in a spatially analytical way—a way to weaken the rigidity and meaninglessness of linear time writing; at the same time, history itself—as some The characteristic historical subject—the vitality and utility—is activated and narrated. In the “space” approach, “spatial vision not only brings new research objects into the field of vision, but also provides a way of understanding for rigorous knowledge production in the general sense” [12] 173. That is to say, space means not only the expansion of knowledge and horizons, but also the promotion of “space” into a spatial way of thinking. Scholars call this new thinking starting from space a “spatial turn”. This turn has had an important impact in various fields, and has even infiltrated into those fields previously called “science of time.” For example in history. It can be said that “‘space turning does not provide a universal key to analyze all or many historical phenomena. But there is no doubt that it has opened many doors for research and enriched the setting of our conceptual tools” [13] 432, The narrative provides a justification for historical experience. Therefore, the way of thinking in space is the way we understand knowledge. In this field of view, space and time appear as an overlapping, intertwined pattern.

Enlightenment of “historical space” on contemporary history

From the geographical-historical thinking of Broaddale, that is, the concept and practice of unity of time and space, we can observe the many legacy that he left for the thinking of “historical space” now. Braudel ’s grasp of history is, above all, to capture the complexity of history, regional stability, and the unity of levels: “My purpose from the beginning to the end is to expose and reveal the breadth of the object under investigation, Complexity and non-homogeneity, and these characteristics are the signs of life. If people can really separate and isolate the three levels (as a classification, I think they are useful), then history will become an objective The science of science, but it is obviously not. “[7] 4 In the sense of discipline, this is actually the relation between geography and history. The “periodical nature of spatial structure”, “integrity and regional vision”, “hierarchy of historical space”, and “historical space narratology” are the thinking resources provided by Braudel to “historical space”.

(A) the “period” of the spatial structure

In fact, for a long time, people have understood the appearance of time for a long time, but this appearance is not very accurate. Braudel’s long-term theoretical conception was inseparable from geographical space at first, and then absorbed structuralist thinking on synchronic space. Therefore, paying equal attention to long periods and space is the basic principle of Braudel’s thinking. Although influenced by structuralism, he distinguished himself from structuralists. He criticized Straussian social sciences for disregarding the “functions and boundaries of models” and the danger of being “expanded” by some people. Further, Braudel said: “We should compare the pattern with the time period, because in my opinion, the meaning and value of the model depends to a large extent on its effective period.” [2] 190 Therefore, in a Under the requirements of this comprehensive discipline, we must pay attention not only to the structural deep relationship, but also to the historical significance of the time period. The “periodical nature” of structure means continuity, difference, and change. This is both the most basic expression of history and the way that historical space unfolds. While investigating the stability of French characteristics, Braudel also noticed that he “has always regarded the region as an invariant. However, it is obviously changing. Since the real unit of measuring distance is the speed of human migration. “[8] 86. Based on this, we can use this stability to plan in the sense of life. For example, the concept of “planning” often referred to in time geography is used in a historical sense.

Fourth, the conclusion

From geospatial to time geography, from historical time to historical space, the two disciplines of geography and history can be described as similar. Braudel’s inclusion of space in history coincides with the thinking of a new time geography. As far as “historical space” is concerned, the transition from time to space means that in order to realize the comprehensive history of the discipline, we must carefully learn the inspiration from geography: from the historical nature of the structure, we explore the historical changes, continuity and unity, and the overall regional relationship Layering and interpretation, and finally expand the narrative of historical space. This process is also the unfolding of a “geography” of time science. This development not only has its academic reasons, but also reflects a kind of humanistic care, which can be called historical experience. Therefore, this historical writing values ​​the possibility of reader experience. In this experience, the aesthetics, cognition, and ethics of history gradually become perceptible.