Author(s): Shlomo Sand
Drawing on his four decades as a professional historian, Shlomo Sand interrogates the academic discipline of history, whose origin lay in the need for a national ideology. In the last few decades, traditional history has begun to fragment, yet only to give rise to a new role of historians as priests of official memory. Working in Israel has sharpened Sand's perspective, since the role of history as national myth is particularly salient in a country where the Bible is treated as a history book. He asks such questions as: Is every historical narrative ideologically marked? Do political requirements and state power weigh down inordinately on historical research and teaching? And, in such conditions, can there be a morally neutral and 'scientific' truth? Despite his trenchant criticism of academic history, Sand would still like to believe that the past can be understood without myth, and sees pointers for this in the work of Weber and Sorel.
Shlomo Sand studied history at the University of Tel Aviv and at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, in Paris. He currently teaches contemporary history at the University of Tel Aviv. His books include The Invention of the Jewish People, On the Nation and the Jewish People, L'Illusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le debat intellectuel 1900, Georges Sorel en son temps, Le XXe siecle a l'ecran and Les Mots et la terre: les intellectuels en Israel.