Mahia Bashir, Harvard University
David Motadel, The Political Role of the Historian, Contemporary European History
Questions around the political role of history and the historian abound. In this essay, David Motadel maps the contours of the “presentism vs positivism” debate from the nineteenth century onwards and tackles questions of subjectivity, contemporary relevance of history, and political partisanship and history. He demonstrates that the concern with contemporary relevance of history emerged in the nineteenth century. As history was professionalised as a positivist science, a new historian divorced from political patronage emerged who, as Motadel writes, “could keep a distance from contemporary affairs”. To be sure, the positivist position invited criticisms from outset from left-wing and liberal historians.
Given the centrality of historical narratives to political life, historians make ideal interlocutors in public debates about the past. Indeed some of the greatest names in the discipline engaged in political discussion. While some confronted political misuses of history, others employed historical argument in service of colonialism, genocides and expulsion. As this debate sparks anew in our time, Motadel suggests that historians should engage in political debates as citizens and “let historical interventions influence the political debate, and not vice versa”.
Arturo Desimone(trans.), Rodolfo Walsh’s Letter to the Military Junta in Argentina, Inverse Journal
Desimone introduces and translates the Argentine literateur Rodolfo Walsh’s resolute and compelling letter to the military Junta in the 1970s. On the first anniversary of the Junta, Walsh wrote this open letter to protest against and to document the atrocities inflicted by the military regime. Walsh challenges the “official” accounts peddled by the Junta to expose the fabrications, omissions and misrepresentation of facts it oversaw. Walsh’s letter also offers a window onto a society marred by state violence and economic turmoil. A protest and a counter-narrative, this letter also is an attempt by Walsh to assert his journalistic prerogative in a time of intellectual repression and censorship. As Walsh writes in the conclusion of his pensive, “Although I am certain that I will be persecuted, I am also faithful to the commitment I made a long time ago, the commitment to bear witness in the difficult hours.”
Tiger Zhifu Li, University of Technology Sydney
Kathryn Armstrong and Andre Rhoden-Paul, BBC News, "Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll passes 28,000 as rescue hopes dwindle",
Unrest in southern Turkey has disrupted rescue efforts in some places following Monday's deadly earthquake, three rescue groups have said, 11th February 2023.
Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "‘A powerful hope’: Tens of thousands demonstrate in downtown L.A. against Iranian government",
Thousands of people gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday, calling for regime change in Iran and rallying in solidarity with the country’s female-led protest movement, February 11th, 2023, 6:42pm. PT
Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton, The Washington Post, "New unidentified 'cylindrical' object shot down over Canada",
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disclosed the latest incident, saying that Canadian and U.S. fighter aircraft had been scrambled and that a "U.S. F-22 successfully fired at the object.", Updated February 11, 2023 at 9:25pm. EST