Need for objective study of the Qajars
By Ferydoun Barjesteh van Waalwijk
November 7, 2003
A reply to Mahan
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,
a silly prejudice typical of many socially frustrated Iranians.
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
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
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
more and more historians and art historians are revaluating
the Qajar era, and often, to their own surprise, come to
that this particular era constitutes a real renaissance of
Iranian culture and civic life.
To understand contemporary
if anything, we need an objective study of the Qajar era
and its dynasty. What is certainly not needed is mud-slinging
spewing of insults Let us not forget that as an aspiring
historian you have the noble task to inform the greater public
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
during your first years of studying history at one of
finest institutions, and with the knowledge you are supposed
to obtain from this effort, is this the kind of historian
you propose to become?
Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn is a historian, publisher and
editor-in-chief of Qajar Studies in The Netherlands.
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