Time to fight back against those wishing to tear down the past - by David Abulafia for the Telegraph

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

A brave and fascinating account by a Cambridge University History professor on the intellectual and cultural battles going on in our classrooms and lecture halls over who 'owns' our history. At stake is the battle between empiricism and ideology which he expands on in the paragraphs below:


"The problem is that the emphasis in the writing of history is shifting from an empirical approach, based on the study of the evidence – documents, chronicles, material remains and the like – towards what is grandly called Theory, with a capital T. Theory should not be confused with theories. There is a theory that sailors of Bristol reached America before Columbus.


Here theory simply means an answer to a specific knotty question where the evidence points in several directions. Assessing the pros and cons of such issues makes the study of the past exciting, and enables history students to approach their sources with a critical eye.


Theory with a capital T is not like that. Theory comes before data. Ideas such as Critical Race Theory are based on a beguilingly simple description of the past. In universities and schools these notions are becoming a new orthodoxy, a set of unquestionable truths to which it is morally imperative to adhere."


The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it.



Article for the Telegraph by David Abulafia - Time for historians to fight back against th
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