Comment by David Lowenthal

In his comment of the conference, David Lowenthal defined nostalgia as a longing for longing, for both retrospective and future longing. For Lowenthal, the nostalgia boom since the 1970s is rooted in the experience of the destructions of the Second World War and the Holocaust, rapid social and cultural change and the media’s treatment of the past. In his eyes, the longing for the past is rooted in the understanding of the past as better than the present because it is over and, thus, stable in contrast to the ever-changing and unstable present. At the same time nostalgia is fundamentally tragic as it entails the recognition that it is impossible to bring back the past.

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