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Gatekeepers of the Arab PastHistorians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt$
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Yoav Di-Capua

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257320

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257320.001.0001

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Ghurbāl’s School: 1930–1952

Ghurbāl’s School: 1930–1952

(p.186) 5 Ghurbāl’s School: 1930–1952
Gatekeepers of the Arab Past

Yoav Di Capua

University of California Press

This chapter addresses the following question: What makes Ghurbāl the doyen of Egyptian historiography? It presents two major arguments. First, the academic school of writing continued royal historiography in terms of its focus, assumptions, methods of work, style of writing, institutions, and, most important, its general historiographical and political orientation. Second, gradually, albeit continually, Ghurbāl and his disciples consciously replicated the academic standards of the Ābdīn project and formed a school that regarded itself as professional. Over time, they developed an ideology of professionalism that distinguished them from populist/amateur historians. A major component of this new ideology was their insistence on vigorous archival research as the only way to discover “truth in history.” Operating against the background of a concurrent dramatic increase in the writing of popular historiography, they developed a specific notion of historical objectivity that strengthened their claim to expert authority. By the 1940s, the academic school appeared as the only group of history writers with a strong ethical commitment.

Keywords:   Egyptian history, Egyptian historiography, Ābdīn project, archival research, academic school, historical objectivity

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