Marc Ferro

French historian

Marc Ferro (24 December 1924 – 21 April 2021) was a French historian.


The Use and Abuse of History (1981)Edit

  • ‘White’ history is moribund; but the ‘whites’’ history is not.
    • Chap. 1 : ‘White history’, a vestige: Johannesburg
  • This ‘black history’ contests the explanation of the past that (as Marianne Cornevin showed) legitimized the tribalization of natives and their dispersal to the arbitrarily-defined ‘Homelands’, creating a moral and historical base for apartheid, while justifying the limited extent of the black ‘Homeland’ areas. As we know, in spite of their increasingly pressing and confident demands for the future, the blacks themselves have little opportunity, at least within the territory of South Africa itself, to affect the whites’ history, and to change its contents.
    Black history can only be written outside South Africa.
    • Chap. 1 : ‘White history’, a vestige: Johannesburg
  • In Black Africa, knowledge of history is the outcome of a threefold stratification. The oldest, oral tradition, works not only at the level of fact but also on that of myth – the legend of a Chaka, or of a Soundiata has as much reality as their real exploits, while a Torodo could identify with both the acts and the legend of El Hadj Omar. The second stratum is the history taught by the colonists. Finally, since independence, the work of African historians and today’s Africanists has resulted in a general, and still evolving, reevaluation of African history: their conclusions are expressed, for instance, in the journal Afrika Zamani and its results may be seen in the various new school-books of French-speaking Africa. They offer a ‘decolonized history’.
    • Chap. 2 : ‘Decolonized history’: Black Africa
  • Let us now follow these slaves, or their descendants, on the other side of the Atlantic in the West Indies, where the blacks, transplanted like the ‘Hindus’ who came from Asia in the nineteenth century, live together with Asians in Trinidad, Tobago or Jamaica, where they replaced the Caribs and Indians whom the first Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch colonists massacred.
    • Chap. 2 : ‘Decolonized history’: Black Africa
  • The mirror has been shattered. Universal history is dead; it died from being a European mirage, which reflected Europe’s own illusions as to her own destiny. The other peoples who figured in this history did so only in a transitory way when Europe chanced in their direction: Egypt, for instance, before the birth of Europe, then under Rome, and next with the Crusades or Bonaparte, Mehmet-Ali or Nasser. What is true of Egypt applies equally well to India, Armenia and the rest. Their history only counted when it crossed the path of ours.
    • Conclusion

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