Between Belongings: History’s Middles

  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Despite the tendency of medieval authors to speak of the world’s peoples as if they were unchanging and self-consistent, collective identities are messy. Confected from mutable elements like law, custom, language, and environment, they rest upon unstable boundaries and are haunted by their own exclusions. Trace any people far enough back into history and they dissolve into heterogeneity. Moments of imagined community seldom solidify, therefore, without some powerful architecture to circumscribe their volatility, some narrative frame to contain their dispersive vectors. In the absence of a persuasive history to anchor its claims to enduring distinc-tiveness, a community will have great difficulty gaining substantiality.


Collective Identity Twelfth Century English Nation Secure Future Middle Path 
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© Jeffrey Jerome Cohen 2006

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  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

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