Does a Historian Adjudicate?

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Abstract. The article is concerned with the issue of professional and civil responsibility of historians. Using narrative sources from antiquity to the present, the author traces back the social role of history, particularly, how the idea of the historian's role in society has transformed over the past two centuries. The article shows that in the era of the formation of national states, serving the history meant simultaneously serving the homeland. The issue of the usage of history in politics is also one of the issues examined in the article. The author comes to the conclusion that in different periods historians tried to avoid any connections with politics, believing that their only mission was to serve the science. The author states, that the study and teaching of history is not politically neutral, and history itself is connected with the question of the personal political participation of the historian, whether in the form of civil debate or his direct participation in the political struggle. Using the example of celebrating the anniversaries of the French Revolution in 1889, in 1939 and 1989, the author shows how the ideas of historians' professional and civic duty correlated among the French. The author examines the “laws on memory” adopted in recent decades in many countries, concluding that attempts through legislation to regulate approaches to the past impede professional historical writing.

Keywords: historical science, historian's responsibility, collective memory, anniversary dates, laws on memory.

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