Past and Present in CLAG Publications, 1971–2018

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

Content analysis of several geography and other journals has demonstrated a shift toward an overwhelming emphasis on the present and recent past. Various scholars have termed this trend “recentism” or “temporal parochialism.” The publications of CLAG (JLAG as well as the Yearbook, Proceedings, and Special Publications series) over the past half century have resisted this trend. Recentism over that period has declined substantially in CLAG publications. The main reason seems to relate to a debate that began at the inaugural CLAG conference in 1970 and is reflected in the pages of the first and subsequent Proceedings volumes. Some believed that studying precolonial and early colonial times was central to understanding and addressing contemporary social and environmental issues in the region. Others did not and deployed tropes typical of Eurocentrism and modernism to support their focus on the present. The former group has nonetheless persisted, through several generations of PhD graduates, in its commitment to an epistemology that results in high impact scholarship of broad relevance to contemporary social and environmental challenges, publishing enough of it in the Yearbook and JLAG to ameliorate the recentism that more generally characterizes geography journals. The example of publications on Mosquitia illustrates the benefits of such resistance to recentism.