Nostalgia can be an emotion that gets people interested in the past and that draws them back to their own and their family’s history. But it’s a distorting force. It puts a scrim of sentimentalization over real events and real people and recasts challenging, uncomfortable stories as quaint and harmless. Nostalgia robs history of its ability to surprise, shock, amaze, replacing all stories with a generic one of how people sure were different in the old days. It erases the stories of people who didn’t appear in charming advertisements. It ignores specificity. It’s ahistorical.
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