At the researcher’s entrance to the National Archives, there are two large statues. The one on the left is of a woman with a large book opened in her lap. In her left hand are several sheets of paper. Is she tearing them out? Is she putting them in? The look on her face doesn’t give a hint. She looks fierce, yet kind. There is a softness in her un-emotional face. Under her feet are written the words:
What is past is prologue
I have had a day or two of wondering whether what i am doing is worthwhile. Is it important? Does it matter? Will anyone read it? And if they do, will i do a well enough job to make my point? Does it matter? It’s not existential angst – it really is a question about the worth of what i am researching.
I met a PhD student from Columbia today. I asked him if i could take a picture of his photo set up (he’s one of the researchers with an elaborate tripod set up). He looked a little confused when i told him i was a Geographer. But i caught myself blurting something out about “historical materialism.” “Oh, so like David Harvey?!”
Someone recently told me that historical geography is dead. Is it? How could it be? Our past is never so far behind us as we imagine…