The immediacy of a remote past: The afterlife of Widukind in the Third Reich
Dr Peter Lambert and Professor Björn Weiler – both of the Department of History & Welsh History at Aberystwyth University – were joint organisers of the British Academy Conference on ‘Uses of the Past in Past Societies: A Global Perspective’, held at the British Academy on 11-12 June 2013. The conference brought together an international group of historians, anthropologists and art historians with expertise ranging from the 11th century to the 21st, and from Byzantium to post-colonial Ghana. They asked how societies have engaged with, debated, refashioned and used their pasts. Among the several themes to
have emerged repeatedly in the course of the conference were two which Lambert’s extract
exemplifies: first, an obsession with ancestry; second, a willingness to imagine or invent pasts which transcended divides between quasi-professional historians and others pursuing historical interests.