Hidden Narratives in History

Workshop by Tamim Ansary

organized by Hannah Baader, Avinoam Shalem and Gerhard Wolf

What I want to discuss is how our understanding of historical and social narratives shifts when we shift the frame. In Destiny Disrupted, I said What if we shift the frame by moving the center to a different place in the physical realm and look out from there: and I show how the proportionate significance of events changes and a whole different narrative emerges. In Debt, Graeber shifts the framework, not by moving to a different point in space but by looking at history through the lens of money. He builds upon the astonishing premise that the first kind of money was credit, not cash or barter, and that as the mirror image of credit, debt is the determinative force running through all of history. Instead of comparing history as seen from two different places, we'll be comparing two whole different ways of shifting the framework.

Reading Material: Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary & Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

Tamim Ansary, author, lecturer, and teacher, was born and raised in Afghanistan and has lived in the United States since 1964. He writes about Islam, politics, democracy, history, education, philosophy, the social impact of technology, sports, movies, and other topics as they catch his fancy. His columns and analyses can be found at his blogsite www.mirtamimansary.com. Ansary's books include Games Without Rules, the Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan, published this year, as well as The Widow's Husband, a historical novel set against the background of the First Afghan-British War; West of Kabul, East of New York, a literary memoir about a bicultural life straddling East and West; and Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes. His memoir was honored by San Francisco as its "One City One Book" pick for 2008 and has been assigned as common freshman reading in universities ranging from Tulane to Carleton. Destiny Disrupted won the 2010 Northern California Book Award for general nonfiction and has been translated into eight languages including Italian. Ansary runs the 65-year-old San Francisco Writers Workshop and teaches sporadically through the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning at San Francisco State and at U.C. Berkeley. He has also written numerous nonfiction children's books and has contributed to major U.S. elementary and high school textbooks programs.

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Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut
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