Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You pay the prophets to justify your reasons.

I heard your promise,but I don't believe it.
That's why I've done it again.

One of the more fun things about writing a blog is the ability to blindly assert things. I can just say "historiography is incredibly screwed up 6 ways to Sunday" and get away with it. Of course, I did mention this before on the previous blog, for whatever that's worth.

The thing I love about history, and the thing that not a lot of people get, is that it's subjective. Really, really, really, subjective. The biases of the writer are always present in his work, and all of the other stuff I wrote about in the post linked to above. I'm not just going to reiterate that, though. I'd like to apply it to the natural resource goodness I'm trying to get into now.

My senior thesisesque paper, which I can't link to because, well, I don't know how to attach files and couldn't be bothered to learn, was all about the oil industry in West Texas. One of the things that I hit upon pretty early in my research was that just about every single source I could find was financed by someone linked up to the oil industry, the railroad industry, or the Texas government. Usually they involved all three.

It's going to be very similar in recent stuff written on Central Asia. Most any writer is going to come into it with a bias. And even the really sharp writers have to write for an audience. And a lot of audiences just want to hear what makes them happy, so a bunch of otherizing works about how STRANGE them Ayjuhns are get written. It's no good, and it doesn't really push the debate forwards.

So the question remains: what sources and types of history are going to be useful if you're trying to get some answers about Central Asia? What's relevant and what is not?

Basically, Alexander the Great is not as relevant as pretty much any columnist may have you think. I would like to see more about the Anglo-Afghan War(s) get talked about, I'm not sure why that time period was somehow decreed Not Relevant. I sometimes wonder of the guiding hands of the Afghanistan War, or really the entire Central Asian Policy for the US and related corporations have at least read Hopkirk's Great Game. Or at least, like, read the wiki entry.

I realiz this is complaining for no real good, constructive, reason, but I wonder why no Central Asian historian has been able to make the leap to pop historian a la Keegan, Ambrose, etc. If it's because people don't care, then how are you planning to get people to care?

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