From Renan, Wha…

by CarlD

From Renan, What is a Nation?:

“The essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common and also that they have forgotten many things. No French citizen knows whether he is a Burgundian, an Alan, a Taifale, or a Visigoth, yet every French citizen has to have forgotten the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, or the massacres that took place in the Midi in the thirteenth century. …

Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical studies often constitutes a danger for nationality. Indeed, historical enquiry brings to light deeds of violence which took place at the origin of all political formations, even of those whose consequences have been altogether beneficial.”

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3 Comments to “From Renan, Wha…”

  1. Of course. Thus the writing and rewriting of history in school textbooks and even scholarly tomes. But, serendipitously, a Pakistani anthropologist with an interest in local history submerged in the creation of modern Pakistan has asked for pointers on precisely this topic. I am going to recommend that he consult the works of historians, starting with Carl Dyke. I will direct him here. Please welcome and lend him a hand if he shows up.

  2. Well, some of the rewriting is because they want to make a buck on the new edition … but since there’s neither filthy lucre nor national mythmaking at stake, the DV posse stands ready to help our new friend in any way we can!

  3. Be careful, there. I know nothing of this fellow but his post on OAC. Could be that he is very much into national myth making, just not the sort of which the current government of Pakistan would approve.

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