Were the 1950s a Golden Age in Baghdad? The Role of Nostalgia and Nationalism
Keywords:History, Education, Sociology, Psychology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Those who study the history of classical and medieval
Islam have their golden ages. For medievalists, for example,
the Baghdad of the Abbasid Caliphate is often considered the
ultimate historical epoch when the city was the pivot of the
universe and the epicenter of science, scholarship, and trade.
(1) But do modern historians have a golden age that they could
look towards and study? Does Baghdad, for example, have a
modern Golden Age?
For the last 15 years, I have been asking a number of Iraqis
this very question. The most typical answer that I get is that
the years between 1948-1958 were distinct and a time of
excitement and optimism. The consensus seems to be that if
there ever was a golden age in the modern era, it would be
found in the 1950s. There is a great sense of nostalgia for this
era. Interestingly, people from all sides of the political spectrum
have fond memories of this time whether they were communists
or conservative monarchists.