Archive Sections: letters | music | index | features | photos | arts/lit | satire Find Iranian singles today!


Missed facts
Need for objective study of the Qajars

By Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn
November 7, 2003
The Iranian

A reply to Mahan Esfahani's "Leave us alone".
Dear Mr. Esfahani,

A preliminary study of music theoreticians in the Islamic Golden Age is a fine way to start your academic career as an historian, but how did that make you a specialist in historic subjects related to the Qajar era?

As an historian myself, I am very eager to discuss the value of the Qajar era in relation to Iranian history and culture in general, but in order to have a true academic discussion one should at least try to stick to facts or use sources to validate one's statements.

Your statements about the Qajar dynasty, the Qajar era and the Qajars themselves lack all professional objectivity, and betray a silly prejudice typical of many socially frustrated Iranians.

As an Iranian aspiring to be an historian the minimum you could do is to read about Iranian history. How can you say cite Cyrus the Great as an example and say that "he conquered the Egyptians" and still lay claim to having any knowledge of Iranian history? And how can you talk about Fath Ali Shah's jealousy of his own son Abbas Mirza? Are these historical facts the rest of us have missed?

Still, making mistakes in historic facts is one thing, but is it necessary to insult all Iranians by trampling maliciously on their common past with so many troubled fantasies about an era you obviously know nothing about? Did you ever think about modern Iranian health care, of modern Iranian education, of modern art, literature, journalism, political science, architecture and the improvements in so many other fields that find their origin in the endeavours of the Qajars or Qajar officials?

Nowadays, with some distance from the time of the Qajar dynasty and the negative propaganda the Pahlavis generated about them, more and more historians and art historians are revaluating the Qajar era, and often, to their own surprise, come to the conclusion that this particular era constitutes a real renaissance of Iranian culture and civic life.

To understand contemporary Iranian history, if anything, we need an objective study of the Qajar era and its dynasty. What is certainly not needed is mud-slinging and spewing of insults Let us not forget that as an aspiring historian you have the noble task to inform the greater public with statements firmly grounded in facts.

Why is it that you and people like you forget all decorum and manners when writing about the Qajars and Qajar history? Is this what you are supposed to have acquired during your first years of studying history at one of America's finest institutions, and with the knowledge you are supposed to obtain from this effort, is this the kind of historian you propose to become?


Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn is a historian, publisher and editor-in-chief of Qajar Studies in The Netherlands.

* Send this page to your friends

For letters section
To Pouya Alimagham

* Advertising
* Support
* Reproduction
* Write for
* Editorial policy




Book of the day

Persia and the Rise of Reza Shah
By Cyrus Ghani
>>> Excerpt

Copyright 1995-2013, Iranian LLC.   |    User Agreement and Privacy Policy   |    Rights and Permissions