[Chronique de Louis Cornellier] Discussion about history

In its latest issue (Summer 2022) the excellent magazine flaw Sees “disputed history”. We agree that the formula is almost pleonasm. This system is still disputed because, despite its scientific claims, it is based on its explanatory nature.

Objective raw facts – Party Quebecwa was founded in 1968, for example – is a matter of chronology. History is another thing. It is composed, explained Professor Georges Langlois in to me What is the use of history? (Bellarmine, 1999), to highlight important events and put them in sequence to bring out meaning.

Langlois specified that “in order to make this choice,” the historian cannot avoid, whatever he says, resorting to criteria that come not from history, but from politics, philosophy, and morals. Even from religion and above all, above all, from the anxieties of the present. »

Moreover, the historian explores something, the past, which left traces, but no longer exists and therefore cannot be reproduced. Historical knowledge is difficult to test and thus inevitably contested.

There had already been an invasion of the French colony of Canada by Great Britain in 1759-1760. The truth is indisputable. However, once we begin to explore the ins and outs of the issue, the controversy begins.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Montreal Historical School – Frigault, Bronte’s and Seguins – considered the conquest an absolute disaster that impeded the normal development of French Canadian society. At the University of Laval, meanwhile, Trodels, Hamelin and Auillier saw something good in this event and attributed the subsequent failure of the French Canadians to the faults of the conquered people.

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The same event, then, and two radically different interpretations, offered by strict historians on both sides. In history, acceptance is necessary, controversy is fundamental.

I read, as summer entertainment, Reasons for history 2 (J’ai lu, 2022), by French history animator Stéphane Bern. When he seeks to shed light on the nickname “Big Apple” attributed to New York, the popularizer discovers three hypotheses. According to the first, the formula will come from the nickname given to the city’s prostitutes. Others assert that it will be from the name given to the pain ball that I felt Jazmin New Yorkers in their thirties before going on stage. The third hypothesis connects the nickname with the equine world. In the 1920s, prizes awarded to race winners were called “Apple”. Winning in New York means getting the “big apple”. The term, then, would come to designate the city.

This funny little example shows that there is nothing simple in history. If an uncertain fact sparks such controversy, imagine what could happen when it comes to it.

in flawEric Bedard recounts Jacques Barrezo’s dissatisfaction with the new high school history and citizenship education program set up under Jean Charest’s liberal government in 2006. It should be remembered that this program was intended to be less political and insisted more on economic and social. Quebec update of its national track.

It sparked outrage in nationalist circles. “That’s because we must go back from Marx and go back to Michelet!” Barizzo then acknowledges Bedard, as well as criticizing a host of other elements of the program, notably the questionable vision of the indigenous population, which, with good reason, has been reduced to the status of victims, “while at first they were real actors in their history”, according to Barizzo.

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To balance this national view, flaw It welcomes in its pages the contribution of historian Pierre Anquetil, who proposes a radical interrogation of the concept of national history, harmful, as he puts it, to “disadvantaged groups within the dominant nation.”

It will therefore be necessary to break the “monopoly assumed by national history” and to abandon the idea of ​​the nation as the common thread of historical thinking in favor of the idea of ​​a “territory” which welcomes “the multiple projects of society in one form or another contradictory.”

The organizers of this column will not be surprised to learn that I prefer Bedard and Barizzo’s view to Anttell’s. I consider, however, that there is a way to maintain, in history, a basic national framework, while developing an interest in highlighting its pluralistic nature.

All Quebecers are Quebecers. So they must share a story, and accept the health challenge that comes with it.

Let’s see in the video

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