2024_1_De Baets

Historians Resisting Tyranny: A Preliminary Evaluation

Antoon De Baets

University of Groningen

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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 13 Issue 1  (2024):39-58 DOI 10.38145/2024.1.39

Since time immemorial, dictators have censored the writing of history and persecuted its practitioners. This policy of history censorship has had many effects, some of which were unintended, such as the development of strategies to counter the distortion of history. This essay therefore opens with a summary overview of the intended and unintended effects of the censorship of the science of history. Against this backdrop, the essay then focuses on one unintended effect of this censorship: resistance to the distortion of history. A tableau is given of the repertoires of available types of resistance under dictatorships and, for comparative purposes, in democracies. The essay uses these repertoires to analyze the resistance of the historians under dictatorships from four perspectives: actors (historians and others); conduct (acts and omissions), motives (ethical, moral, professional, and political), and impact (short-term and long-term). The essay is intended as a tribute, both to historians who once resisted tyrannical power and to historians who retell their stories as an inspiration for present and future battles.

Keywords: actors of resistance, conduct of resistance, censorship of history, professional solidarity, repertoires of resistance

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