This article appeared in French and addressed the question of the role played by the Japanese state and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. It was subsequently reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, translated into German and Japanese
The article concentrates on how interpreters of 'modernity,'the inauguration of new time, have invariably overlooked both the force of time itself and the temporal forms that have served as determining agents in the making of our modern history. This has been particularly true of the dominant interpretive strategies--the vulgate version of Marxism (stage theory), modernization and convergence theory and postcolonial theory--that have sought, since Cold War days, to make sense of what has constituted a distinctively modern experience of its other, the Third World, the unmodern and underdeveloped.
The article seeks to challenge accounts that have appealed to postcolonial theory in order to make up for Marx's putative Eurocentrism as found in newspaper articles on India and China.
Christopher Hill's "National History an the World of Nations" reminds us of the conjunctural moment of an emerging word market in the latter half of the 19th century and the promised it offered for vitalizing a "world history" yet to be written. More importantly it supplies the silhouette of a radically different interpretative approach, formed by the force of a centrifugal perspective that--through its concentration on ho France, the Unitd Stats and Japan were simultaneously motivated to construct representations of self-identity in national narratives--converge to disclose the possibility of a wider world no longer held hostage to the geopolitical category of the "West." Hill's account shows that impulse behind the formation of national history employed different strategies to imagine a linear historical narrative of national identity that aimed both to remove the spectacle of coexisting, different, multiple temporalities and to weld large and regionally disparate populations into a single people who, in a new time, would be instructed to recognize themselves in the nation's story. In Hill's reckoning, national history in France, the United States and Japan appear simply as another name for 'historical necessity' that sought, through processes of naturalization and nationalization to overcome the unstable and uneven relationship between stat and capital but that failed to conceal the deeper reality of determinations demanded by the relations of capital at the local and international levels.
My essay is a critique of this interpretation and seeks to show how the attempt to efface the 'scandal' of uneven co-eval multiple temporalities, which is at the heart of historical production, manages only to call attention to their presence in new registers.