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Contesting Narratives, Locating Power (Lund Conference)

Thoughts Out of Season

[image from unknown archive] [image from unknown archive]

Five questions are directed to the participants, I will offer a few brief comments about them and make more detailed remarks in the oral presentation. My view of the Arab protests is that like the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Civil war and the Indian Freedom Struggle, the recent wave of struggles with special attention to Egypt are a part of the bourgeois revolution in the age of the mass. The implications for historians  (history is my discipline) will be I believe largely lost.  The focus among historians  on getting beyond the nation state and adjusting countries to globalization will carry on once the newspaper headlines  of these events die out. For a few people these events will stir some sort of thinking about new research and pedagogy but  the general orthodoxy of the field (and I do believe this is worth mentioning) will remain a kind of neo-orientalism coming down from Hegel and it will subsume the events of today  into some kind of emulation of the West.  The study of revolutionary movements in the Middle East would definitely liven up the research and teaching scene but to undertake it those involved would need to learn the relevant political economy theory and social history which would allow for such analysis. This would require an abandonment of the currently fashionable new liberalism. I don’t see this happening. Are there new questions, subjects, etc.? Doubtless there are, but this is relative to what one had been thinking all along. I would say as a quick summary  again focusing on Egypt. The fact that I don’t see much of the analysis relating even to the events of   the late 1940’s much less the earlier 1919 Revolution in the blogs  leads me to think  the past plays no role in historical thinking about modern times, that as a result anything (or everything)  today is new.  I’d like to be proven wrong. 

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