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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Controlling History: The 1960s

Controlling History: The 1960s

(p.282) 8 Controlling History: The 1960s
Gatekeepers of the Arab Past

Yoav Di Capua

University of California Press

This chapter reappraises the historiographical process during the 1960s. It argues that a Marxist theory of history provided Arab socialism with a notion of historical change and with suggestions for how it could be planned and controlled. In almost every significant respect—its perception of time, of the agents of historical change, and of the problem of objectivity—this theory of history was at odds with idealistic histories of progressive human betterment. The first section of the discussion focuses on the Marxist idea of lawful and ordered behavior of history in the context of the Charter. The belief in the existence of these laws led to central planning, short-term forecasts, and even long-term prophecies. It thus formed the basis for thinking about any form of change. The second and third sections deal with the political attempts to reorganize historiographical resources and to pressure individuals and institutions to subscribe to this Marxist theory of history. Together all three sections substantiate the meaning of the rewriting project to make the point that much more than rewriting was at stake. This was an expression of a cultural revolution whose ambitious aim was to be in control of history.

Keywords:   Egyptian history, Egyptian historiography, Marxist theory, Arab socialism

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