I tried to ignore the whole thing and kept telling myself “at least, they are trying… and it’s ok to try in our present time when no one wants to exert any effort”… however, I could not ignore any more. I here mean the seminar or you can say conference held by the Supreme Council of Culture titled “January and June revolutions… objective evaluation or unbiased vision”. What made it even worse is that the history committee supervised the seminar and most of the names lecturing were history professors.
I tried to understand why we shall present an evaluation or vision about the two revolutions right now while we are still living the events. I found no answer for this. I tried to expel the shadows of my late history professors; Ahmed Ezzat Abdel-Karim, Ahmed Abdel-Rahim Mustafa and Muhammed Anis, and my friends of history professors still alive, Assem ed-Dessouki, Abdel-Khaliq Lashin, Ali Shalabi, Muhammed Fou’ad el-Morsi and others… but ghosts kept haunting me, calling: “do not stand still or you will be an accomplice in that crime”.
We were taught – and I guess those who were in the seminar of the Supreme Council of Culture headed by a historian were also taught the same thing – that history scholars shall tackle the study of events and circumstances after a sufficient period of time passes following the completion of those events and circumstances. This period of time is specified by the British National Archives department to be 30 years in order to release the documents related to the elapsed era. However, sometimes whole or part of certain documents may not be allowed to be released.
There is a great difference between the eye-witness participating or watching the incidents and history scholar, as the latter does not have the right to practice his job over himself. Meaning that the eye-witness who witnessed or took part in the incident – while narrating what he lived or watched – is in need of someone else to read his testimony in a critical way adopting discipline scientific tools known for all working in the field of history. I believe no one of those history teachers and university professors who participated in the seminar have applied the well-known agreed-upon discipline rules over their visions.
What is more catastrophic is that some big names of history professors reported to be taking part in that seminar are known to be unyielding and impartial. I have no idea how those big names could violate the scientific rules agreed upon in the discipline of history and do what they did. Maybe it is for the sake of the reward… or even feeling embarrassed from the Council chief who is a history professor as well… and maybe because participation in such seminar means staying under the regime and government’s spot lights… and maybe this seminar is held upon request from top authorities.
I do not understand how a scholar and teacher of contemporary and modern history can have the audacity to do the job of or replace the scholar and teacher of political sciences, sociology and social psychology. The three of those social sciences; political sciences, sociology and social psychology, can deal with events while they are still running, and even some social sciences’ researchers can put assumptions, scenarios and make comparisons among them. Some others can detect the mechanisms and dynamics of both the event and humans and then present their analysis based on the research tools used in the discipline they belong to. I really do not understand how a historian can take the role of political sciences, sociology or social psychology professor and vice versa. Meaning that if a political sciences’ professor addressed the study of historic events or presented an analysis for a certain historical figure, that would be considered invalid. This is part of the problem we have nowadays as no one does his job. No one commits to his discipline. Many work in fields other than their specialization and do not commit to the agreed-upon scientific rules known in that field. Actually, we live in a total jumble.
I do not know if the Supreme Council of “Jumble” – which became a place for the inefficient cronies of the minister or ex-chief of the council – will publish the outcome of such seminar and what those history philosophers discussed like no other did in history before; not even Toynbee, Marx, Plekhanov or all historians of idealism and materialism philosophies, or whether they will keep the papers in the files printed and then put them in the storing rooms until they find their way to Rakta paper manufacturing company in case it still exists.
Dear gentlemen teaching history in university… will you please, for God’s sake, stick to your discipline and do your job so that you do not mislead your students.
This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper in June 2, 2015.
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