A people’s history, history from below, or folk history is a type of historical narrative which attempts to account for historical events from the perspective of common people rather than political and other leaders.
A people’s history (otherwise known as social history) is the history of the world that is the story of mass movements and of the outsiders. Individuals not included in the past in other type of writing about history are part of history-from-below theory’s primary focus, which includes the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor, the nonconformists, the subaltern and the otherwise forgotten people. This theory also usually focuses on events occurring in the fullness of time, or when an overwhelming wave of smaller events cause certain developments to occur.
This revisionist approach to writing history is in direct opposition to methods which tend to emphasize single great figures in history, referred to as the great man theory; it argues that the driving factor of history is the daily life of ordinary people, their social status and profession. These are the factors that “push and pull” on opinions and allow for trends to develop, as opposed to great people introducing ideas or initiating events.
In his book A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn wrote: “The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.”
Arash Sadeghi was arrested a number of times for participating in the demonstrations that followed the disputed presidential election in 2009. On 4 April 2010, Judge Pir-Abbas in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 74 lashes and six years in prison after convicting him of the vaguely-worded national security charges of “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. He was acquitted on appeal of the latter charge and his sentence reduced to one year imprisonment and four-years suspended sentence for the former. Arash Sadeghi’s current detention is unrelated to his previous case but it is believed that he is being held under suspicion of “gathering and colluding against state security”, although he has not been formally charged. No further details are known and the case is said to be “under investigation”, meaning that he cannot have access to legal representation.
On 3 June 2013, a debate on sex work was arranged by Solas, Centre for Public Christianity. The debaters were Laura Lee (Sex worker rights campaigner, blogger and sex worker), Douglas Fox (of theInternational Union of Sex Workers, editor of the blog Harlots Parlour and sex worker), Rhoda Grant MSP (who has put forward a Bill to criminalise sex purchase in Scotland) and Richard Lucas (a minister and member of Solas – you can read his blog here). Laura Lee and Douglas Fox were debating against Richard Lucas and Rhoda Grant.
The debate opened with a statement by each of the panel. Laura Lee told her story of how she was working as an independent escort when a member of the community outed her on “every social media platform they could find”. She and her 7 year old daughter were bullied, her car was vandalized and her daughter was told by a well-respected, churchgoing adult man that her mother “will die of AIDS” – a statement which caused the child to panic as she believed it. A paedophile who had returned from a long prison sentence for molesting children was accepted by the same community.
Rhoda Grant’s main points were that “demand is met by coercion” and sex work is “trafficking”, not free choice. Ms Grant confused sex work with paedophilia and child abuse. She used Syrian women to back up her argument which isn’t relevant to her Bill as its scope is UK-limited.
Laura Lee took offence to Grant’s use of the term “prostituted women”. Laura said “It suggests we can’t consent to sex because we’re not there of our own free will. But we can, just like a barman can refuse to serve a customer.” She said that clients have reported incidents of violence towards sex workers to Crimestoppers and that the Ugly Mugs scheme which protects sex workers by creating a database of violent clients is now at risk due to funding.