A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it” – Winston Churchill

I’ve never been particularly fond of museums. It’s always made me somewhat uncomfortable to see exhibits constructed of materialistic representations of lives and eras because throughout my experience as a visitor, I maintain the sense that I entered this space in response to either an educational or personal motive and in observing the collected materials I feel a sense of being out-of-place, bordering on voyeuristic, peering into some part of history or modernity and knowing that I am not seeing the whole picture. Being here has made me realize that my problem with museums extends far beyond the construction of physical exhibitions. Listening to the variety of historical narratives that we’ve been exposed to over the past few weeks, I have noticed consistently the conviction with which each person delivers their version of the narrative. The deeply personal nature of these narratives is made abundantly clear by the linguistic choices our speakers make when delivering their history. In Palestine, we heard about the effects of the Apartheid Wall on the lives of communities, families, and individuals. In Israel, however, the same physical wall was referred to as a “security fence.” The discrepancies made apparent by the differing narratives we are exposed to have brought me to question the authority we have given ourselves to write what we declare to be objectivist history at all.

Much like the construction of a museum exhibit or an archaeological site, the authoring of history has engendered a certain arrogance that encourages narrators to deny their own personal bias and affirm a polarized distinction between oppressor and victim, entitling themselves to define morality and propriety in ways that I do not believe we are able to. Moreover, the construction of a narrative seems to encourage self-importance and a willingness to create an agenda based on the historical narrative that has been developed that seems, in the case of Jerusalem, to begin most often with occupying space that does not belong to us. The issue of space herein becomes one that requires understanding in the context of physical space as in the case of territorial occupation as well as the context of intellectual space as in the occupation of space within generalized discourse.

Shaina Roberts

3 comments to “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it” – Winston Churchill

  • ychow

    I have to say, as a massive fan of Churchill, I loved that quote. I am reminded of the song ‘Wonderful’ in the musical, Wicked. “In our world, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history. A man’s called a traitor, or liberator, a rich man’s a thief or philanthropist. Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease, with moral ambiguities. So we act as though they don’t exist.”
    Hypothetically speaking, if in thirty years time the political conflict betten Israel and Palestine is resolved, how will the resulting history textbooks narrate this history? We are all too aware of the silenced voices in humanity’s past history. Will the conflict be another page where the Israeli side or the Palestinian side be stifled? But as seen with the long going argument on WWII atrocities between Japan and her neighbouring nations, it seems unlikely, in this sense, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will ever be resolved.

    • iross

      Hi Shainy,

      I’ve also noticed the unquestionable authority with which each person portrays his or her version of historical events. One central question is whether the necessity of preserving history (in any form) is more important than preserving the integrity of one group and the honor of another.

      People probably won’t stop telling each others’ histories and shaping them (consciously or not) to serve their own interests. The older an event becomes, the more likely it is that there will be less diverse versions of it. This is because the dominant version, often written by the victors, becomes the only version after a certain amount of time. On the other hand, ancient events are often among the most disputed because of a lack of information and conflicting or incomplete accounts. Teaching or displaying such events is problematic. In portrayal of both ancient and recent history, I think that acknowledgement of these biases is key to a more equal presentation of history.

      One must also ask how history or historical events should be open to the public if not through the – albeit biased – efforts of someone to portray them? I’m not disagreeing with the principal that one group shouldn’t narrate the history or viewpoint of another, but rather addressing the question of implementation and practicality both for the present and the future.
      – Izzy

  • amikami

    Thank you, Izzy, for putting in words what I exactly thought when I read this blog post. I deleted mine because it wasn’t done in as kindly manner as yours.