Many falsely assume that history is only concerned with the past and not with the present. This is the impression I get when reading the piece entitled ‘Idea to remove George Cross branded “absurd”’, (The Sunday Times of Malta, March 17) as a reaction to an interview I gave to Times Talk the preceding week following my feature on 75 years of the George Cross on the flag (the Times of Malta, February 23).

I could hardly believe that contrary to my contributions on the subject under review – mostly constructed on my doctoral academic research on British colonialism in Malta – the core reaction the reporter picked up from a local prominent historian was ‘absurd’.

While the main thrust of the content I dealt with concerned the removal of the George Cross from the flag (and not the award itself) Prof. Joe Pirotta and Mario Farrugia hardly addressed the issue.

Regarding the corresponding topic of re-contextualising an excess of colonial monuments in Valletta (e.g. the removal of some of the giant-sized royal British insigna around the President’s Palace), pity that generic comments from the two gentlemen left readers without any convincing arguments or academic lucidity on post-colonialism.

I also fail to understand what the Knights of Malta or the French (who have been allies with the British in most world conflicts) have to do with our experience of British colonialism.

On a different note, in the same issue of your paper, ‘Long live Malta GC’ by columnist Mark Anthony Falzon was amusing. I found it entertaining with a touch of the burlesque as I guess the author meant it to be. May I only assure Dr Falzon that I could hardly visualise myself ‘very angry’ in such situations. Impassioned maybe, but not angry. Alas, as often applied to governments, society gets the flag and/or colonial monuments it deserves.

May I respectfully suggest that Times of Malta readers, but also the gentlemen mentioned above, update their reading list where it concerns academic literature on history, social science and the politics of memory and identity.

From a mnemonic historical point of view, instead of looking at ‘the traditional event-centred past’ one could perhaps take a broadening of its former meaning, its study in the longue durée, not only in its being, but also in its becoming.


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