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The Iranian


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Sprint Long Distance


Sehaty Foreign Exchange


September 7, 2000

Little people's history

Regarding Mr. Khodadad Rezakhani's view of how Iranian history should be studied in the universities ["Not too deep"]:

First off, I certainly hope that "every midwife and plumber" *DOES* come up to you and give you the reasons why an historical event took place. History -emphatically- *IS NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE* the bastion of elite historians and researchers who get bogged down in the minutiae of a war that took place 25,00 years ago.

History is lived everyday by all of us, we each have our own version of it, and frankly no amount of "historical documentation" makes the lived experience of the "midwife or plumber" down the street any less valid than the recorded version the scholars proffer.

Secondly, the kind of history you are advocating, with all due respect, is a history we need no more of. I am -as are many others- tired of the history of kings and wars, tired of the details what domains they ruled, and what wars they fought, and what rights they granted in all their munificence and benevolence.

If there is any depth to be gained at all in the study of history, it should be gained through the study of those "little people" that have been deemed unworthy of a place in the collective narratives of our past.

I don't want to know about such and such Shah that won or lost a war against another empire; such things are abstractions. I want to know about the foot soldier that was taken -often by force- from his farm to die in the war he never wanted. I want to know how the blacksmith's wife made bread; how they bartered or traded or bought or sold products.

I want to know how they reared their children, how they dug the qanats, how they bred vast and green gardens out of the dry desert. I want to know why and how they fought for their rights, and how they bore pressure on kings and courts to guarantee some measure of protection from their coercion.

To be totally honest with you, to me, it doesn't matter that Anushirvan was the king of Iran and Aniran. He didn't rule an empty land. Where are the people who actually made the history that is now associated with him? Who speaks for the midwives and plumbers if not themselves?

Laleh Khalili


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