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Historia Crítica

versão impressa ISSN 0121-1617


LEE, Richard E.. Lessons of the Longue Durée: The Legacy of Fernand Braudel. hist.crit. [online]. 2018, n.69, pp.69-77. ISSN 0121-1617.

In 1958, in response to what he considered a general crisis in the human sciences and as a plea for their rapprochement, Fernand Braudel clarified his idea of time as a social construct, rather than a simple chronological parameter. This article begins by looking at the lessons of the idea of a plurality of social times, grounded in the concept of Braudel’s the longue durée, for social analysis. The first lesson was that we live in one singular “world.” His insight led to the basic premise of world-systems analysis that historical social systems come into being as a unique and indivisible sets of singular, longue durée structures with a beginning and an end, that is, recognizable over the long term, but not forever into the past or into the future. As Braudel observed, the reproduction of these structures -according to world-systems analysis, the axial division of labor, the interstate system, and the structures of knowledge- exhibit secular trends and cyclical rhythms that may be observed over the life of the system. Eventually, however, the processes reproducing these structures run up against asymptotes, or limitations, in overcoming the contradictions of the system and the system ceases to exist. The second great lesson of Braudel’s longue durée has been to allow us to see clearly not only the singularity of our world, but its uniqueness as well, that is, a world that has now expanded to become global, a world that consists of the three analytically distinct but functionally, and existentially, inseparable structural arenas, as never before existed. The third great lesson of the longue durée was to allow us to interpret crisis as the possibility for fundamental structural change. Finally this article examines the ethical and methodological consequences of the simultaneous exhaustion of the processes insuring endless accumulation and containing class struggle taking place contemporaneously with the collapse of their co-constitutive intellectual structures.

Palavras-chave : Fernand Braudel; longue durée; Structures of Knowledge; World-Systems Analysis.

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