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Abstract

History is conventionally imagined and narrated in the context of nation, relating its stories and shaped by its imaginaries. To the extent the latter are invariant to the scale and space of narration, projects such as global history may be said with justification to be oxymorons. In surveying the various levels at which histories have attempted to be narrated purportedly beyond the boundaries of nations, this paper argues for a more consciously layered awareness of our multiple historical locations. Life unfolds at different levels and in different spaces between which exist complex overlays, complementarities, tensions, conflicts, and connections. Besides the conventions and expediencies of scholarship, often in practice historians too, will feel impelled to privilege one or another level or locus for their stories. However it is important to be aware of the reasons and limitations of such choices, and also recognize that no level or locus of analysis can credibly claim finally or definitively to subsume all others, much less render them redundant.

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