The society of dead history

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By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO*

The history subject was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain.

In a not too distant future, in a location closer than one imagines, lost in a dystopian time-space, there lived a group of people, pressed between the tiny space of experience and the almost absence of a horizon of expectations, in a kind of continuous present , as they used to say. Strange, strange, eccentric beings, some said.

Middle-aged and elderly people, who once had some social relevance and were even admired (I myself, now an old man, author of this story, when I was just 14 years old, was fascinated by one of them, a 25-year-old young man who exuded intellectual vigor). They were well educated, graduated, some with master's degrees and even doctorates. They snuck through the shadows and alleys, found themselves in deserted places, deserted squares, abandoned rooms, gloomy libraries, old warehouses, decrepit marquees, little-frequented second-hand bookstores, catacombs and shacks where they served cachaça, cold beer and delicacies, such as jiló. with liver.

They had the habit of reading books (physical ones!) and organizing them in home libraries, even if they were old and yellowed volumes, rare or repeated editions, pages that were torn from handling or intact. They gathered documents and old newspaper articles, read and registered. They also had a special predilection for photographs and objects of symbolic value.

Men did not always shave and were not very concerned about clothing, clothes old fashioned not always adjusted to the body. Among the women, some had the strange habit of twirling their disheveled hair with their fingers while they talked and, at times, they displayed a certain discreet inelegance, outfits that were completely mismatched.

The books eventually made up the clothing, as an adornment, as well as raw cloth bags, souvenirs from old conferences in the area. They were figures who did not pose the slightest physical danger, had no athletic build, were not armed and never acted in groups. Many were former tobacco smokers and some were reputed to have smoked marijuana socially. Others drank without moderation.

It turns out that these guys, although they had their glory days, started to be hunted like animals. And that's why they avoided social interaction, they were rarely seen in public places. Restaurants, theaters and cinemas, never again. It was possible to find them at political demonstrations, but they were always disguised and hanging around the edges of the movement.

They identified each other and greeted each other with a slight and almost imperceptible nod of the head and arch of the eyebrow. It is said that at one of these protest events, on a large central avenue, a young technocrat who was leaving the office in her magazine suit and stiletto heels, bumped into one of these ghostly figures, whose books fell to the floor, among them Common customs (EP Thompson) and Crowns of glory, tears of blood (Emília Viotti da Costa).

The young woman disconnected from her cell phone, observed the scene and found it strange that someone was on a march carrying books, she read the titles, remembered the urban legend that had formed about these beings, somewhat confused, identified him and started shouting: historian !! historian! There's a history teacher here! run! history teacher! history!

The history teacher, no longer incognito, quickly gathered his books and, before a crowd formed, fled through the region's alleys. Some still tried to chase him, but he slipped into the shadows, half astonished and humiliated.

This state of affairs would have begun, some assert, in the 2020s, after a series of curricular changes in basic education, mainly in secondary education, which came to be called “new”, which led to the disqualification of history teaching, their teachers and this type of knowledge (yes, there was already a subject with that name, since the XNUMXth century!). As if that were not enough, this school subject was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain.

These changes served the interests of big capital and the undergraduate courses themselves were changed to meet these demands. Also during this period, the new teachers who graduated, graduating from Human Sciences courses, followed a curriculum with supposed “minimum concepts” drawn up by a group of former transfugee historians.

The long-awaited and celebrated regulation of the historian profession lost its meaning, as History courses were abolished and no one would dare publicly identify themselves as such. The fact is that historians and history teachers have become rare bird. Even the legendary ANPUH was forced to change its name to ANCHU and ABEH adopted the name ABECHU.

Some of these guys still try to resist quixotically (inside, never!) and tilt at windmills, defend school discipline in lives lightning without an audience, they write manifestos that are canceled before they are even read and they organize clandestine courses for half a dozen nostalgic dripping cats.

When caught, following anonymous complaints, they are arrested and tortured with refresher courses (sic) about BNCC, Novo Ensino Médio and BNC-FP, they are forced to attend lectures with sub-celebrities converted to the Human Sciences area and to memorize alphanumeric codes, skills and competencies. Few resist and, once freed, they are seen wandering around shopping malls smiling aimlessly and saying disconnected phrases, such as “I will be doing it”, “we are all for education”, “I thank everyone, everyone”, “knowing and weighing”, “I will be forwarding”…

A few decades after its formal extinction, historians and history teachers became a myth in the country. Some doubt that they existed and former luminaries of the field no longer yield likes; His books are no longer published and we no longer talk about historical time; Some claim that “they” never die and even the much vaunted “historical consciousness” has become just “consciousness”.

Legend has it that the remnants of historians and history teachers formed a secret brotherhood, a society of dead history: poiesis.

*Antonio Simplicio de Almeida Neto is a professor at the Department of History at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). Author, among other books, of Utopian representations in history teaching  (Ed. Unifesp). [https://amzn.to/4bYIdly]


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