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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, June 6, 2011

AHR examines ‘Earthrise era,’ symbols of Argentine cultural identity

June 6, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Hear the word "Earth," and the images likely to flash through the mind are descendants of two views afforded by the Apollo missions. One, a photograph called "Earthrise," shows Earth half-cloaked in shadow above a lifeless moonscape. A second, "Blue Marble," reveals our planet suspended alone in the void; it is reputed to be the most widely disseminated photograph in history.

Such views of Earth, it has been argued, prompted a revolution in the global imagination and a new appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the planet. But Benjamin Lazier, associate professor of history at Reed College, writing in the June 2011 issue of the American Historical Review, questions whether the Apollo images did indeed prompt such a revolution. And if so, he asks, to what ends?

American Historical Review

Graphic artist Holger Matthies designed this curious image of a globe encased within a chestnut shell for a poster distributed by Germany's Green Party in 1986. In the latest American Historical Review, Benjamin Lazier examines the changing meanings of visual representations of the Earth.

Lazier supplements accounts of the Cold War origins and environmentalist afterlives of the "Earthrise era" with a history of philosophical responses to the earliest images of Earth from space. He focuses on thinkers -- including Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger and Hans Blumenberg -- who were troubled by the displacement of local, earthbound horizons with horizons that are planetary in scope and scale.

"Their example … prompts us to ask whether the visions and vocabularies of the Earthrise era have inadvertently accelerated our planetary emergency as much as they have inspired us to slow it down," he writes in "Earthrise; or, The Globalization of the World Picture."

The American Historical Review is the official publication of the American Historical Association. Its editorial offices are at Indiana University Bloomington.

Also in the June 2001 issue, Brian Bockelman draws on a rich collection of popular Argentine songbooks to explore the rise of urban popular culture as a new source of stories and images about the nation, as well as the simultaneous promotion of multiple national icons.

In "Between the Gaucho and the Tango: Popular Songs and the Shifting Landscape of Modern Argentine Identity, 1895-1915," Bockelman describes how the rural gaucho and the urban tango became increasingly popular symbols of Argentine identity, even though they had little in common. Examining the history of one but not the other, he argues, can lead to a distorted understanding of the cultural effects of modernization.

The June issue also includes an AHR Roundtable containing 10 essays on "Historians and the Question of 'Modernity,'" three featured reviews, the usual extensive book review section and the "In Back Issues" feature on articles from 100, 75 and 50 years ago.

The American Historical Review is published five times a year by University of Chicago Press. Highly regarded among scholars of history, AHR has for several years had the highest "impact factor" among history journals, according to Journal Citation Reports, which measures how often articles in a particular journal are cited by peer-reviewed journals in the Thomson Reuters database. More information is available at the AHR website,