History Personal Statement Example

I strongly agree with Tolstoy's criticisms of the great man theory and of the urge humans feel to attribute geopolitical events to one single leader, when instead each event is the result of countless others that precede it. The complex causal web behind current affairs is proof of this theory. The Catalan Independence Movement can be linked to the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, the Spanish Civil War and the Reaper's War in the mid-1600s. The same theory can be applied to the Russo-Ukrainian war: Putin himself did not annex Crimea, nor was it an action borne from his own original nationalist values. Indeed, innumerable events caused by innumerable people create the main issues historians discuss. However, I do not share Tolstoy's cynicism, as I believe that the study of these great men and the circumstances in which they gained power is crucial for us to adequately engage with current issues, particularly in relation to politics.

My IB course covers subjects such as the Cold War and 20th century authoritarian states. This encouraged me to pick the dissolution of the Soviet Union for my Extended Essay. I enjoyed Victor Sebestyen's 'Revolution 1989' which focuses largely on Afghanistan as the reason for the collapse, an opinion I disagree with. Though it is a nuanced issue, I believe that Gorbachev's reforms were most significant in leading to the collapse, an opinion that Orlando Figes strongly supports.

Censorship throughout history is fascinating to me. Within this scope, I have acquired an obsession with the Greek Civil War, as it is almost completely omitted from Greek textbooks, and remains a taboo subject in Greek society seventy years after its end. This was largely encouraged by the 1989 law allowing for relevant archives to be burnt, akin to the Nazi book burnings. The deep social and political wounds the conflict inflicted, paired with the government's control on how this chapter of Greek history has affected politics since, has sparked my desire to further research the subject of censorship.

In my other subjects, I examine historical links such as the issues of women's rights in 1970s Egypt that are raised in 'Woman at Point Zero', whose author, Nawal El Sadaawi, played a pivotal role in radicalising the feminist movement that caused backlash to the religionist Nasserist regime. The play 'Death and the Maiden' highlighted the social aftermath of Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. I found interesting analyses from Mauricio Saavedra and Cristian Guzman that outline the lasting impact the dictatorship has had on Chile, which is still seeking to rid the government of the dictatorship's influence.

I am a keen footballer and I captain my school's football team, while I also play for a local Greek one. I taught myself to play the guitar aged eleven, and appreciate music as a creative outlet and for the role it has played in furthering social change, such as The Beatles' response to the Vietnam war, and Tracy Chapman, whose music featured frequently on Tunisian radio during the start of the Arab Spring. I have gained experience debating and conducting academic research on historically significant topics, such as the War on Terror, through MUN since 2019.

This has cultivated my leadership skills, while also helping me develop an intellectual and cultural sympathy with foreign points of view. Growing up in Greece in an English missionary family has further broadened my worldview, as I am bilingual and culturally identify as both English and Greek. I am involved with the music at my church's youth group, and I have worked with kids at summer camps and a local church community centre. My religious background has created many opportunities to evaluate the pivotal role religion has played throughout history, both as an oppressive and a liberating force, a subject I enjoy discussing with friends from my church, who hold surprisingly socialist views.

I wholeheartedly look forward to studying history at a higher level.

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All for History V100 (MA at Edinburgh, BA at the other four).


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