Give me my history back!

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On IMC 2016 one of the most interesting discussions happened after a session devoted to the fate of refugees in the Late Roman and Early Medieval World. You can check the abstracts out here but what drove the whole session home was a talk afterwards.

And it wasn’t really about refugees at all.

It was about how are we to take the history back?

After numerous, let us be honest here, completely insane texts by previously quite respected academics like Alexander Demandt (you can read about his “opinions” if you haven’t yet) the silent majority of historians need an outlet to be able to say ‘Hey! That is a fat load of bullshit!’. The need is becoming increasingly dire. During the discussion chilling stories of respectable research being used by right-wing wackos were told; of lack of control in the times of a digital world; of a dire need to find a way to comunicate with the wider public.

One of the great ideas that appeared during the talk: The Conversation magazine, online journal written and edited by academics. I am totally for it, although I do notice a bit of a musky smell of an ivory tower. Still, better than nothing - count me in.

But even ten magazines like The Conversation are not going to solve the biggest problem: that even if we have 10 magazines like it, they wouldn’t make much difference. Because we stay silent. We don’t write to the wider audience about e.g. the insanity of making comaprisons between the end of the Roman Empire and the current refugee situation, to recall Demandt once again. And we really, really should. Because last time somebody tried to take history as a tool it ended very badly. And we should take it back.

Written on July 7, 2016