Telling the story in the new story: a Mexican presents revealing book

Towards the end of the 19th century, historians agreed that to be able to tell history, to be able to write it, written documents were necessary and the discipline, to a large extent, worked in this way until our present day. Yet how will historians of the future make history? It is often said that young people do not write but, and it has not yet been measured, the number of text messages sent at this time far exceeds the number of letters poured into letters a century earlier. At the same time, a huge amount of other types of documents are produced, of records that reflect our culture and are not taken into account. How will our future generations see us when they remember that in 2020 there was a pandemic that kept millions of people locked up for months? Will they think we were boring? What technologies will they use to see those we have today as remote? Questions like these and many others crossed the mind of the Mexican historian Oriel Gómez Mendoza as he sought to investigate new ways of telling history. In his book << Essays on historical reconstruction << he starts from the denial that the historical fact exists by itself, while trying new objects of study such as cinematographic arguments, and looking for new ways of telling the past. Before his presentation, which will be today Saturday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m., via internet from Uruapan (Michoacán, Mexico) to Rosario, the author met with The citizen and he referred to the peculiarities of his book. Said presentation will be made through the Facebook page of the Municipal Government of Uruapan and with the support of that municipality and its Secretary of Tourism and Culture. The Galileo Galilei Institute of Rosario (IES N ° 29 “Galileo Galilei”) was invited to transmit this activity.

There are no historical facts

Gómez Mendoza’s book starts from an assertion: “There are no historical facts.” That same, translated into our history, would come to be: “San Martín did not cross the Andes”, or “Belgrano did not raise the flag for the first time in Rosario.” So the question that arises is how is history written, from what? Against this, the author affirms that the expression is risky and that it actually aims to mobilize critical thinking. “In any case, I understand that it is a rhetorical question. It is a provocation for those who begin to work in the historical discipline to become passionate, “explains the Mexican historian and expresses that” in reality there are historical events “but we must understand them in a different way than what historians thought since the end of the century XIX. “The nineteenth-century idea that the facts are there waiting for us, is not about going to fish them,” said Gómez Mendoza in reference to what the German Leopold Von Ranke proposed when he pointed out that the “historical facts” are in the documents of the past. and you only had to transcribe them to write history. For the Morelia professor, on the other hand, it is “a very subjective question” in which the historian’s work is outlined in the “inclusion and exclusion” of topics and there is a reconstruction of what happened. “There are things that I am going to remember and others that we put aside,” he explains, unlike the character in Jorge Luis Borges’ story, “Funes, the memory,” who could not stop remembering absolutely everything without being able to order or rank his memories. “The historian when he narrates the past chooses his theme and decides to join a space and time, and a problem of his social environment, because the historical fact is a social question that arises from our environment,” says Gómez Mendoza.

“What I would like to dispute is that nineteenth-century historical events are out of fashion. They gave an account of the voice and the apology of power and that fortunate relationship made her follow the ups and downs of that power, which turned the story into a simple appendix of her, “he said, referring to the story that gave an account of powerful characters, of important dates, of supposed great events but he forgot about society in general and its characteristics.

The Matrix makes history

“A few years ago I was trying to warn one of my students about the relationship between Thomas Khunn’s classic text, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and a movie trilogy of the (Lana and Lilly) Wachowski sisters, starring Keanu Reeves: The Matrix”, Expressed Gómez Mendoza in his book and underlined that from the film he managed to better communicate Khunn’s thesis. Faced with this, a student suggested that he write as a novel way of narrating the past.

“I think it convenient to blur – let it be clear, not forget – a little at least, the speeches and texts of the great historians who preceded us, but above all their examples that in light of the cultural capital of current generations say little or nothing. I am certain that it is necessary to break with that narrative or form of communication so academic, excessively technical and lacking in elements that interest broader audiences, ”said the Mexican historian.

“I mean how you can force new generations to rethink the character of history. The problem is that the references and referents change. When we bring in the new historians and show them an old form from the archive they are going to be less attracted. Mainstream culture, pop culture generates more messages for them. Our cultural references are hollow and uninteresting to them. When I explain Thomas Khun and the receipt of the document, they don’t understand. Instead, I tell them to watch the Matrix if they get it, ”the author stated.

The idea is to change the historical narrative but also new narrative instruments such as the aforementioned film. In this sense, Gómez Mendoza said that he formed a group of historians called Historia pop that deals with other objects of study such as the history of video games or the past of female dance performances in Mexico, for example. The idea is to reach more people by renewing the way of telling the story and the objects of study.

“Let’s imagine the fun spaces of the 21st century seen by futures, who see us with tenderness in the midst of our pandemic. The narratives should be accompanied by new references ”, explained Gómez Mendoza.

“I propose that we generate a pop history in the sense that as there is a Eurocentric, exclusive culture, which is understood to be the great culture, there are also alternative, contestatory cultures that arise from below and are also very important,” he said. the historian.

“There are other forms of communication from pop culture that are very important and that are mass phenomena. Why did movie comics become so popular? In that sense, history should find a way to reach historians and also the general public. With an accessible narrative and that’s why I’m working right now with a group called Pop History. I do not criticize those who use documents but I say that it is not the only way to make history, ”said Gómez Mendoza.

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