This chapter reevaluates the distinctive features characterizing history writing in the formative years, 1860-1940. It argues that the social profile of the “historian” varied greatly and was difficult to define through a notion of professionalism. The autonomy of individuals and institutions, particularly vis-à-vis the state, partly explains the timing for the emergence and popularity of certain genres of history. The chapter discusses how the nation became the primary category for writing history through translations, transnational engagements with foreign scholars, and the writing of world histories. It assesses how the broad cross section of Iranians employed history to delineate the criteria for citizenship while simultaneously excluding populations on the basis of race, civilization, and the military defense of the “nation.” Finally, it compares Iranian history-writing practices and narratives with other locations and suggests that this might be a fruitful starting point for writing connected histories of historiography.
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