This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: Bonnie Goodman at HNN's History Buzz (1-22-07)
SOURCE: Michael F. Shaughnessy at EdNews.org (1-24-07)
Will Fitzhugh is the Founder/Editor of The Concord Review, a quarterly review of essays by students of history. Since 1987 The Concord Review has published 748 history research papers by high school students on a wide variety of historical topics. This quarterly is the only one in the world for the academic work of secondary students. In this interview, he responds to questions about the need for writing, and some of his current endeavors.
1) I understand that you have just finished a stint on the ACT/NAGB Steering Committee for the 2011 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) Writing Assessment. What was that like? (And what does NAGB stand for?)
WF: NAGB is the National Assessment Governing Board, which runs the NAEP, "America's Report Card," as they say. I was glad that Diane Ravitch recommended me for the Steering Committee for the new national writing assessment scheduled for 2011. I was very impressed with the intelligence and competence of Mary Crovo, representing NAEP, and Rosanne Cook, who is running the project for American College Testing. Many people on the Committee were from the National Council of Teachers of English and the College Composition world, which have little interest in having students read history books or write history research papers. In fact that world favors, or has favored in the past, personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay, which do a terrible job of preparing high school students for the nonfiction books and the academic term papers most will be asked to cope with in college.
2) Given the paucity of writing that goes on in the high schools of America, is it really fair to ask high school students to engage in a robust writing assessment?
WF: It would not be fair to ask high school students to play in a football game if they hadn't had an opportunity for lots of practice, and it is very hard to ask high school students to do the sort of academic expository writing they should be doing if they have never done it in all their years in school. But we need to start somewhere. Every high school student does not need to be able to play football, but they all need to be able to read nonfiction books and write serious term papers.
3) On the other hand, since so much of the college experience is writing, are high school teachers doing students a disservice by NOT requiring more writing?
WF: High school teachers would make terrible football coaches and their teams would lose most if not all of their games, if the teacher/coaches did not have time to practice their teams. We take football seriously, and we take band seriously, so ample time and money are made available to produce the best teams and the best bands the high school can manage. We allow really no time for a public high school teacher to work with students on heavy-duty term papers. We don't make time for them, because we don't think they are that important. Not as important as drama practice, yearbook, chorus, debate or a host of other activities. As a result our high school students are, once again, ill-prepared for college reading and writing. AP courses in history do not require, in most cases, that students read a complete nonfiction book, and most of the AP teachers say they don't have time to ask the student to write a research paper, because they "have to get students ready for the AP Exam."
4) Most English teachers would cry “already overworked “or “dealing with under-prepared students” if we asked them to do more writing instruction. Is the answer smaller class sizes? Or fewer mainstreamed kids?
WF: I have suggested the "Page Per Year Plan," which would ask first-graders to write a one-page paper about something other than themselves, and so on, with 8th graders writing an 8-page paper, 11th graders writing an 11-page paper, etc. This would provide English and History teachers with more students who were ready to do serious term papers, and the students would not all have to be started from scratch, like someone going out for football for the first time in their senior year in high school. In addition, if we are serious about term papers and book reports, English and History teachers should be given five class days each semester to supervise such work, and to assess it when it is handed in. We don't do that now, so most teachers feel they are really too busy to assign these vital projects to their students.
5) I have often seen ”The American public wants more attention paid to writing” phrase. In spite of public outcry, educators or politicians don’t seem to respond. Are there just a lot of lone voices crying in the wilderness?
WF: When there is a response, as from the National Commission on Writing in the Schools, the writing sought is almost inconceivably superficial, formulaic, sentimental, and bland. It is hard for anyone concerned about writing to understand how these and other groups concerned about "Adolescent Literacy" keep their standards so very low. Young Adult sections in bookstores and libraries are full of fiction which panders to teen interests. None of the great history books can find a place there, as teens are assumed to be interested in only little fictional stories which are basically about them and their friends. Dumbing Down doesn't get much plainer than that.
6) Doing a national assessment of writing must involve a lot of different opinions about writing. What were some of the fundamental issues discussed at this meeting?
WF: The assessment planned was hobbled by the need to do the evaluation on two 25-minute samples which require no background knowledge, and could be written by students who had never spent a day in school. Nothing learned in school is required and the prompts are accordingly necessarily superficial. In addition, the claim is that "writing on demand" is somehow the standard to be met. Some claim that they are asked at work to produce something written in a short time (not 25 minutes I suppose), but even that writing is based on all the knowledge they have from their job and their schooling. For the most part, any decent writing, whether at college or in the workplace, depends on time to gather knowledge, to write, to reflect, and to re-write at least at a basic level. Writing for a prompt in 25 minutes tells us basically nothing about students' ability to acquire and understand knowledge or to organize their thoughts in a paper. A lot of work was done on this assessment, but I believe the constraints imposed requiring no knowledge and no time for thought or re-writing, make this assessment sadly uninformative about the real academic reading and writing skills of our students.
7) You recently published “Math and Reading: A Lament for High School History and Writing “ in The Historical Society’s Historically Speaking, November/December 2006, pp 36-37. What were the main point that you were trying to make in that article?
WF: My basic concern is that if Edupundits don't care about serious reading and writing, and Educators limit their students to fiction and to writing very short personal stories and the like, we cripple out children's ability to read and write at the necessary level. There seems to be no awareness or desire for awareness of the absence of nonfiction books in our high schools and our (The Concord Review) study from 2002 found that the majority of high school teachers are no longer assigning 12-page term papers. Many of our high school graduates find that they need remedial writing courses when they get to college, and many also find the nonfiction books on their reading lists overwhelming, which is not surprising. If they had not played football in high school, they would not last long on a college football team. When it comes to reading and writing, we seem content to deprive our students of the practice they would need to manage college work when they get there. Many drop out as a result of this, in my view.
8) Good writing, like good piano or violin playing, probably takes time, effort, and energy. But what are the payoffs to good writing for high school students?
WF: Reading is the path to knowledge in the liberal arts, not to slight the value of science labs and the like, and writing is the path to making knowledge one's own. If students have not practiced academic reading and academic writing they will literally be "out of mental shape" as they approach more difficult academic material. Some will adjust, but many too many will not, and we will lose them, at least for a while, from the opportunity for a higher education.
9) What question have I neglected to ask ?
WF: Why have history, which might have helped us as we considered our plans in Iraq, and academic writing, which allows thinking to develop, been so neglected in our schools? There is a tremendous interest in the Arts, which are thought to be good for the soul, and for science, which is thought to be the key to economic success, but as one of the major foundations told me, "We are interested in Math, Minorities, and Science" so they can't support history, writing, and the like. But Minorities also need to read and write, and so will all our future legislators, mayors, judges, lawyers, and all citizens of our democracy, no matter what their path in life. We need science and math, of course, but we also need, desperately, I believe, to do a better job of teaching academic reading and writing to a higher standard than we have allowed to prevail in our schools.
SOURCE: http://progressive.org (Date unknown) (1-22-07)
SOURCE: Democracy Now (1-19-07)
SOURCE: AP (1-21-07)
The Middle East historian David Fromkin sees a breakup of the jerry-built nation. Phebe Marr, doyenne of Iraq scholars, sees "distrust and suspicion" too deep to overcome. "Bleak," concludes Baghdad University's Saad al-Hadithi.
"At the moment," said the British historian Niall Ferguson, "a happy ending has a 1-in-100 look about it."
In interviews with The Associated Press, few experts see much chance that President Bush's plan to add 21,500 troops to the U.S. force in Baghdad and western Iraq will suppress either the anti-U.S. insurgency or the bloody underground warfare between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or induce a political settlement among the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions.
The Senate this week is expected to begin action on a nonbinding resolution repudiating the Bush troop buildup. The measure was introduced by the Democratic-majority but has attracted some Republican support.
Mohamed el-Sayed Said, of Cairo's al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said he expects the growing U.S. political opposition to the war will lead at some point to a redeployment of American troops to northern Iraq's Kurdistan and to elsewhere in the Gulf region.
After that, said this Arab scholar, "events will take their own course, which is basically generalized civil war."
SOURCE: US News & World Report (1-21-07)
The loss of that land, and the stories that its subterranean contents might have told, became a kind of coda to the standard historical interpretation of the colony itself: that Jamestown had been a largely unsuccessful venture, carried out by genteel adventurers and military men ill-suited to the task of wresting a livelihood from a rugged wilderness. That they had failed to build their palisaded encampment on higher ground was further proof of their ineptitude. No wonder Jamestown took a back seat to Plymouth Rock in American history textbooks.
Lingering doubts. But one man who had doubts about the established consensus has been almost single-handedly responsible for overturning it-and with it, much of the older thinking about the first years of the Virginia Company's colony. Since 1993, as chief archaeologist of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, William Kelso has been directing the Jamestown Rediscovery Project, pursuing a hunch born exactly 30 years before. A graduate student at the nearby College of William and Mary when he first visited the island, he was unconvinced by the park ranger's spiel. Why, Kelso wondered, would those first settlers not have put their base on higher ground where later, during the Civil War, Confederate soldiers had thrown up an artillery earthwork? Kelso knew that desultory digs in and around the Civil War mound in the 1950s had failed to find traces of the original James Fort. Yet his suspicions were reinforced by a book, Here Lies Virginia, that he read a few months after his visit to the island. The author, Ivor Noel Hume, a British archaeologist at Colonial Williamsburg, had argued that burial grounds discovered near the earthwork suggested that the original fortress stood nearby.
SOURCE: Indianapolis Star (1-20-07)
Their goal is to agree upon a single history that describes a 19th-century movement that tried to break down denominational walls but splintered itself into what became the Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Independent Christian Churches.
Historians representing each of the branches hope a new version of the story that incorporates all three perspectives would do much to help heal lingering differences.
"We share a history in which each group has written their own account," said Newell Williams, a professor at Brite Divinity School, a Disciples school in Texas. "Of course, in those, whichever group is writing is the good guy and the other people are the bad guys." The three strains that spawned from what is known as the Stone-Campbell Movement today represent more than 4 million American Christians, including some of the largest churches in the Indianapolis area and the Disciples denomination, whose world headquarters is Downtown.
The scholars involved in the project, which could take six years to complete, hope a more balanced and rounded telling of their history could heal misunderstandings and end the occasional animosity that followed after the groups began to split in the 1870s.
"We are not just throwing it out there as another piece of history writing," said Paul Blowers, an Emmanuel School of Religion professor representing the Independents. "We do have an agenda. We want our churches to get to know each other across the divisions." Blowers' father, Russell, was the longtime pastor at East 91st Street Christian Church.
"We want people to begin to own responsibility again for Christian reconciliation."
The three groups span the theological spectrum, from the conservative Churches of Christ to the more liberal-leaning Disciples. So the scholars say that if they can succeed in bridging differences, it could offer hope for the larger fracturing of the Protestant landscape.
SOURCE: AHA Blog (1-21-07)
Of course, no one’s perfect. With so many different specialties to deal with, we’ll likely leave out a few things. That’s why we welcome your ongoing comments/suggestions on how we can continually improve this service. If you ever see something that needs to be changed, simply drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to accommodate your wishes. You’ve expended enough energy researching and writing your paper; let us help you find a place to publish it.
“Publish Your Paper!” will be available through the AHA website in March 2007.
SOURCE: Press Release -- History Today (1-23-07)
Last night’s event saw the presentation of the Royal Historical Society - History Today prize for Undergraduate Dissertation of the Year and the Longman - History Today awards for Book of the Year, Historical Picture Researcher of the Year and the prestigious Longman -History Today Trustees award.
Peter Snow, Lady Antonia Fraser and Bettany Hughes were among the noted guests who watched Adam Tooze pick up the Book of the Year prize for his book entitled Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy.
Other leading historians, who came together to celebrate another year of excellence in the field of history included Mary Beard, Nick Barratt, Guy De La Bedoyere and Dr Simon Thurley.
Barry Coward, President of the Historical Association (HA) expressed his delight at accepting the Longman -History Today Trustees award on behalf of the HA;
“Everyone in the HA is absolutely delighted by it. A few months ago the HA was awarded a royal charter. There’s no doubt in my mind which of these two awards I value most!” Said Coward.
Professor Coward went on to comment on the importance of the work of the HA in three major fields of history.
“Firstly, it’s promoted history by acting as a bridge between the academic/educational world of history and the world of popular, public’ history, via its publications and its local branches from Carlisle in the north to the Isle of Wight in the south.
“Secondly it’s promoted history by living up to its claim to be ‘the voice for history’, And thirdly, the HA has promoted history by playing a central role in discussions with government ministers and government bodies emphasising that history should have a central place in the school curriculum.”
He pledged is intention to build on these roles in the future and thanked everyone who had contributed to the important work that the HA has done in promoting history for just over a hundred years since its foundation by A.F. Pollard, C.H. Firth in collaboration with London schoolteachers in May 1906.
In particular he praised the work of The HA’s CEO Madeline Stiles, who will shortly be retiring form her position.
The Awards in full
Royal Historical Society - History Today Undergraduate Dissertation of the Year prize
Edward Swift, (Durham University) Furnishing God’s Holy House: John Cosin and Laudian Church interiors in Durham.
A study of the way in which a key Laudian divine redecorated parish churches in Durham, and his use of the decorative scheme, medieval features and other church furnishings and rituals to express his theological, social and political vision. The judges said: The project requires the handling of a range of diverse sources, architectural, liturgical and theological. His work is mature and confident in expression and in the handling and explanation of difficult material. Sophisticated, sensitively interdisciplinary, seriously researched, visually imaginative, and learned.
Matthew Neal, (The Queens College Cambridge) ‘The Fall of Walpole’.
James Williamson, (University College London) ‘To what extent, if at all, did the Marshall Plan impose limits on the postwar Labour government’s policies of nationalisation and the creation of the Welfare State?
Historical Picture Researcher of the Year prize
The prize was awarded to Wendy Gay of Thames & Hudson, for two books, The Seventy Great Journeys in History, (edited by Robin Hanbury-Tenison), and for Gay Life and Culture: A World History (edited by Robert Aldrich).
Both books rely hugely on their fascinating, appropriate and surprising section of images, and the obvious engagement of the researcher with the topic
Wendy worked for many years at Thames & Hudson, but last July tragically was killed in a bicycle accident on the Euston Rd. She was described by her colleagues both as a picture researcher of great skill, determination, knowledge, and resourcefulness.
Her partner Marc Kitchen-Smith received the prize on her behalf, and announced his intention to donate the prize money to the London Library, where Wendy had often worked, in order to develop their collection of illustrated books.
Longman – History Today Book of the Year prize
Adam Tooze – Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (Penguin)
This ambitious and well-written study of the economic, political and even cultural origins of the Second World War attempts with great success to understand the economics of the processes of government , and presents a real global history, bringing the US into Hitler’s decision-making process in a new way, and shows the Nazi war effort as the last big landgrab, the last terrestrial empire. This is particularly impressive given that many people must have thought there was little more to be said about this whole subject.
Kate Fisher - Birth Control, Sex, and Marriage in Britain 1918-1960 (Oxford University Press)
Kate Retford – Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in 18th-century England (Yale)
Nicola Humble – Culinary Pleasures: Cookbooks and the Transformation of British Food (Faber)
Julian Luxford - The Art and Architecture of English Benedictine Monasteries, 1300-1540: A Patronage History (Boydell)
Giorgio Riello – A Foot in the Past: Consumers, Producers and Footweare in the Long 18th Century (Oxford University Press)
Longman – History Today Trustees Award
This year the prize was awarded to the Historical Association; an organization that has been promoting history for a hundred years through its many branches across the country, in its educational work where it continually works with government to improve the quality of the history curriculum, and in developing and facilitating the spread of best teaching practice in the history classroom, from 5 to 19. Links between the Historical Association and History Today have been particularly close, since the very first issue of History Today which carried a Historical Association advertisement on the inside back cover.
For further information and images please contact Charlie Cottrell on 0207 534 8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes blog (1-22-07)
It all began with a faxed letter from Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, arriving out of the blue on April 4, 2006:
I will be hosting a conference to discuss the thesis of the" clash of civilizations" first popularized by Professor Samuel Huntington's book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. I would like to invite you to debate this thesis with me at the opening session of the conference, which will be held 10am-1pm on Saturday, 10 June 2006.
The conference was twice delayed, before finally taking place two days ago, on January 20, 2007. It was quite an event, held in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, across the street from Westminster Abbey. The mayor told me in a private chat before the event that when he conceived of the event two years ago, he wondered if anyone would show up. He need not have worried; the Greater London Authority's website indicated there had been"an unprecedented demand" for tickets and several days in advance of the event shut the ticketing. One organizer on the mayor's staff told me that the audience numbered about five thousand and that over 150 media had registered for the conference.
The mayor and I each invited a seconder to help us make our arguments: he chose Salma Yaqoob, a councilor in Birmingham, and I chose Douglas Murray, the London writer. Due to the large crowd, the event started a half hour late but even truncated, it still went for slightly over two hours.
Despite the many journalists and video cameras, and despite the GLA having recorded and simultaneously transcribed the event, and despite two and a half days having passed since it took place, there has been – quite to my surprise – not a single media account of the debate, nor a video made available, nor a transcript. (This reminds me in a way of my University of California-Berkeley talk three years ago, which created quite a stir but had zero media coverage.)
There have, however, been a number of blog accounts – interestingly, every one of them sympathetic to Murray and myself; it would seem that the mayor's supporters took a pass on reporting the event. In alphabetical order by author, here are are the fullest and most interesting accounts that I have located (the list will be updated as needed):
Sharon Chadha,"Clash of Civilizations?" SharonChadha.com, 21 January 2007.
Gandalf,"Clash of Civilizations." UpPompeii.com, 21 January 2007.
Graham,"A Very Civilised Clash." Harry's Place, 22 January 2007.
Jonathan Hoffman,"Daniel Pipes survives Livingstone's Lions' Den." Adloyada.com, 21 January 2007.
David Pryce-Jones,"Debating Clash." National Review Online, 20 January 2007.
Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer,"Dr. Daniel Pipes And Douglas Murray Triumph Over ‘Red' Ken Livingstone In London Debate." PipeLineNews.org, 22 January 2007.
(January 22, 2007)
Cross-posted at http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/724
SOURCE: The Republican (1-14-07)
Like his hero, Magic Johnson, Jason was a point guard.
He was good, fast, heady, with a knack for getting the ball to the open man.
He learned the game on his hometown courts of Springfield. He was often the only white kid on the floor.
A ball being dribbled, the squeak of sneakers was the soundtrack to his young life.
Jason played at Suffield Academy and all four years at Oberlin College in Ohio.
At Suffield, 5-foot-8 Jason Sokol realized his basketball career had a ceiling, lower than he would have liked.
He started reading James Baldwin and Howard Zinn. He double majored in history and philosophy at Oberlin.
"I was trying to figure out who I was," Jason says.
A passion for writing developed. So did a deeper interest in history and race in America. He thought journalism, because it combined those interests and talents, could be his new career path.
"I was interested in a people's history, from the bottom up, not the great white man's view," Jason says. "I also liked studying the past and connecting it to the present."...
SOURCE: CBN News (1-11-07)
As part of a new war plan, Bush will be sending 21,500 additional troops to Iraq to stomp out the sectarian violence that has been ravaging the nation and threatening to send it into civil war.
However, a recent AP poll suggests that most Americans oppose such a move.
Such overwhelming opposition reflects increasing doubt that the U.S. was correct in having gone to war in the first place and that establishment of a secure democratic government is possible.
According to the poll, only 35 percent of the public believe it was right for the U.S. to go war-a complete reversal from two years ago when two-thirds of Americans thought it was the right decision.
Pat Robertson recently interviewed the American Enterprise Institute's Frederick W. Kagan, who helped develop the President's new plan. Watch the interview right here on CBNNews.com.
[Click on the SOURCE link above to watch the interview.]
SOURCE: Antoon De Baets at the website of Network of Concerned Historians (1-20-07)
International PEN issued a statement after the appalling murder yesterday of Armenian-Turkish writer Hrant Dink. Below it is reproduced and preceded by a NCH summary of Dink's case.
In addition, NCH wants to draw your attention to the fact that, sadly, historians and others concerned with the past are sometimes assassinated. Some recent examples from Iraq, Sudan, and Colombia:
**Last week, NCH circular #47 contained details about five historians assassinated in Iraq since 2003. Please sign the petition to protest this violence at the homepage of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA), London: http://www.academic-refugees.org.
**On 6 September 2006, Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed (-2006) was kidnapped and beheaded by masked gunmen near the capital Khartoum, Sudan. For details, see the NCH Annual Report 2006 (NCH #45).
**On 21 March 2006, Jaime Enrique Gómez Velásquez (-2006) disappeared in Bogotá, Colombia. He was assassinated. On 23 April 2006, his mutilated remains were discovered. For details, see the NCH Annual Report 2006 (NCH #45).
With best wishes,
Antoon De Baets
(Network of Concerned Historians)
NCH SUMMARY OF THE HRANT DINK CASE
On 7 October 2005, journalist Hrant Dink (-2007), editor-in- chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos (Ploughed Furrow; established 1996), Istanbul, was given a six-month suspended sentence for"insulting and weakening Turkish identity through the media". In February 2004, Dink had written a series of articles dealing with the collective memory of the Armenian genocide and its impact on the present-day Armenian diaspora. He called on Armenians to overcome their historical enmity toward Turks. In April 2004, he had declared at an international panel discussion that Turkey was preparing new curricula and textbooks in which the Armenian genocide thesis was rejected and that the Ministry of National Education had sent to all schools, including Armenian ones, a circular demanding that schools organize conferences and composition competitions dealing with the struggle against"unfounded Armenian genocide claims". On 1 May 2006, Dink's appeal was overturned and a new trial ordered. The rejection of the appeal led to hundreds of people signing a petition in his defence. In July 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the six-month suspended prison sentence. Dink reportedly submitted his case to the European Court on Human Rights. Meanwhile, in December 2005 charges of"attempting to influence the judiciary" were opened against Dink, Serkis Seropyan, co-editor of Agos, and Aydin Engin, journalist and author, for an article challenging Dink's October conviction. The trial was postponed several times, the last time until April 2007. In September 2006, a third case was initiated against Dink on charges of"insulting Turkish identity" for an interview to Reuters on 14 July 2006 in which he had declared that the Armenian genocide had taken place and that he would not remain silent on this issue. This trial was scheduled for March 2007. Some of the hearings of the three trials were marred by violent scenes inside and outside the courtrooms, instigated by nationalist activists calling for Dink to be punished. On 19 January 2007, Hrant Dink was murdered.
[Messages from International PEN about Dink (and other Turkish writers):"Statement on the Trial of Orhan Pamuk" (16 December 2005); Rapid Action Network, 06/06 (9 February 2006) and 17/06 (3 May 2006); Defamation and"Insult": Writers React (15 November 2006);"Turkey Defamation Campaign: Hrant Dink" (15 November 2006);"Statement on the Murder of Hrant Dink in Turkey (19 January 2007). Other sources include Human Rights Watch, World Report 2007 (Washington 2007), 426; Ifex Communiqué 14-47 (22 November 2005); Index on Censorship, 4/05: 145; 1/06: 122; 2/06: 196; 3/06: 82; 4/06: 200;"When history hurts: Times are tough for outspoken scholars", Economist, 4 August 2005. See also NCH Annual Report 2006 (NCH #45).]
PEN STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF HRANT DINK IN TURKEY
Author(s): Eugene Schoulgin - WiPC International Chair
Date: 19th January, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: Eugene Schoulgin, Board Member International PEN mobile: +47 48031212; Sara Whyatt, International PEN Writers in Prison Committee Programme Direct +447930695826; Joanne Leedom Ackerman, International Secretary International PEN:
+447932733979; Larry Siems, +12123341660 ext. 105
The murder today, 19 January 2007, of Armenian-Turkish writer and editor Hrant Dink, the courageous and principled advocate for dialogue and understanding between the Armenian minority and the Turks, is an appalling act. Hrant Dink's fellow writers worldwide express their profound shock at this terrible loss.
Dink, whose campaign against the law making it a crime to insult the Turkish State, particularly as it relates to the killings of Armenians in the early years of the last century, has paid the highest price with his own life.
Jiri Grusa, International President of International PEN, the world association of writers, called the murder"a symptom of old hatreds that threaten the relationship of all Turkish people to the democratic values shared in Europe and the world." International PEN calls upon the Turkish government to do all in its power to apprehend Dink's killer and welcomes Prime Minister Erdogan's pledged commitment that those who ordered the killing be brought to justice.
Hrant Dink was well known to PEN members throughout the world and had received many awards for his courage, including, most recently, the Oxfam/Novib award for Freedom of Expression in November 2006. He was an honorary member of the English, American, Belgian Dutch and Norwegian PEN Centres, and friend to many more PEN Centres and individual PEN members around the globe. International PEN sends its condolences to Hrant Dink's wife and children.
SOURCE: Interview in Reason (1-12-07)
As Sarah Igo points out in her new book The Averaged American (Harvard University Press), people haven’t always been so welcoming of large-scale attempts to lump them together. Surveyors, argues Igo, popularized the concept of a mass public as they defined its boundaries. As they framed a snapshot of the nation’s collective psyche, early pollsters were giving often-resistant Americans a new—and often distorted—way of thinking about themselves. In her engaging history of the surveyors and the surveyed, Igo, an assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that surveys and polls have helped generate the very idea of the archetypical American.
Reason: What does it mean to be part of a mass public?
Sarah Igo: The way people have talked about that in the past was very wrapped up with being a consumer. That people were listening to the same radio shows of watching the same television programs, buying the same kinds of products, and to me that was always kind of unsatisfying. I didn’t think products necessarily made one feel part of anything larger. What I discovered was that statistical information, bastardized and popularized, was a deeper way for people to understand that they belonged to something larger than a family or a particular community. It gave people a way to look at the nation in a very new way. I think that kind of statistical information, where people could find themselves in the numbers, or sometimes not find themselves, was a very powerful technology for understanding this whole, or this mass.
The word mass has an interesting history, but it's often been portrayed very negatively. I think there is something more interesting going on in people's recognition of themselves, or sometimes misrecognition of themselves, in the numbers that surveyors provided.
Reason: How did surveys become a way to define the average rather than the marginal?
Igo: Surveys go centuries back, but in the modern period, in the 19th century, they were really used as a tool of social control, of policing almost—of poor people, marginal people, black migrants, immigrants—by social reformers. And it's really not until the 20th century that you get surveys attempting to query "normal, ordinary" Americans—white, middle class folks. I think there is an expected conflation in the 20s 30s 40s 50s of that character—the normal American—with white middle class subjects. And then there is a movement in the 60s and 70s, both in survey research itself and in the wider social cultural political world, to pay greater attention to people who had been neglected in earlier surveys. It happens in medical studies, in epidemiology, women's health activists for example, where women who had not been medical subjects suddenly asked why there hadn’t been any attention paid to breast cancer....
During the October  symposium [at George Mason University] on Firearms Law and the Second Amendment I made statements concerning the peer review process at the Law and History Review with respect to the publication of an article by Michael Bellisiles. These statements were based on a misunderstood conversation between myself and one of the potential peer reviewers. I wish to state that I regret these statements and that I have confidence in the integrity of the peer review process for the Law and History Review as it was conducted by Dr. Christopher Tomlins, editor of the review at the time.
SOURCE: David Horowitz and Jacob Laskin at FrontpageMag.com (1-22-07)
Introduction to American Studies (University Park Campus)
American Studies 100. Instructor, Melinda P.Wilkins
The course is taught by several instructors, among them M.P. Wilkins, a Senior Lecturer in English at the University Park campus. Wilkins’ syllabus depicts American culture as the expression of a history of uninterrupted brutality and oppression, in which minority groups suffer while their white oppressors write the official story as a narrative of unfolding freedom. This is not atypical of the curricula offered in other American Studies 100 sections. Wilkins is not formally trained in history and only holds an M.A. in English Literature from Virginia Tech, which she received in 1982.
The sole historical text assigned for this course is Jame’s Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me. This book is not a scholarly work, but -- as the title suggests -- a sectarian polemic against the traditional teaching of American history and against what the author views as the black record of the American past. Among other harangues to be found in his text, Loewen laments “[h]ow textbooks misrepresent the U.S. government and omit its participation in state-sponsored terrorism.”
According to Loewen, the lies teachers told him result from facts being “manipulated by elite white male capitalists who orchestrate how history is written.” This answers the course’s instruction to students to determine who is telling the story and who benefits. But it is an extreme and sectarian answer, and is not tempered by a required text with opposing views. Hence it violates Penn State’s academic freedom policy which defines an appropriate academic instruction as training students “to think for themselves” and providing them with “access to those materials which they need if they are to think intelligently.”
A typical chapter in Loewen’s required text is called “1493: The True Importance of Christopher Columbus.” Loewen summarizes the achievement of Columbus in these words: “Christopher Columbus introduced two phenomena that revolutionized race relations and transformed the modern world: the taking of land, wealth, and labor from indigenous peoples, leading to their near extermination, and the transatlantic slave trade, which created a racial underclass.”
As an extreme view, Loewen’s amateur text might be a useful subject of analysis and discussion. It is certainly not an accurate view of the historical record, since the taking of land, wealth and labor from indigenous people, leading to their near extermination, was a well-known practice of the Romans, long before Columbus arrived in the Americas. Moreover, the intercontinental slave trade (though not the translatlantic one) long pre-dated Columbus making his role hardly revolutionary as Loewen claims.
But Lowen’s tendentious text is not offered as a text to be examined critically and objectively as a reflection of extreme, uninformed, polemical views. Lies My Teachers Told Me is required as an official classroom guide for students. It is the only assigned historical text for Wilkins’ Introduction to American Studies course and its chapters are assigned in lessons throughout the semester to provide historical background to students as they study cultural artifacts throughout American history. In other words, it is the text designed by the instructor course to introduce students to the facts of American history which are said to underlie its culture. ...
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (1-14-07)
The policemen who assaulted me had left me bruised, with a bleeding temple. They had ripped my venerable charcoal-grey suit. I was traumatised and bewildered. “What dey do to you, man?” Ronnie asked. “Why dey git you?” Almost before I’d had a chance to express my own bafflement, Chico intervened. He was neatly jacketed, dome-headed, dejected and black. He was handcuffed to me. “Don’ let dat guy know none of yo’ business,” was his kind advice. My fellow suspects treated me with politeness and respect I had not got from the police....
Most of the prisoners I met were miserable rather than malign. All but two of my fellow inmates were black. None was obese: these guys could not even afford to be fat. Some were deranged, some drunk, some drugged, some just down and out. Typically they began by asking: “Do you mind if I ask you, sir, why you’re in jail?” Ricky — who, if his acne could be treated, would have Hollywood good looks — was picked up for occupying an abandoned building. He had entered, without breaking in, to sleep. Don was a father of four with a cannabis habit who stepped outside so that his children wouldn’t see him smoke.
Stacey — one of only two women brought in while I was there — was arrested because she had no money or ID when stopped for jumping a traffic light. Mac was frank about being an addict who worked for a dealer. He introduced me to another suspect: “Dis guy’s British,” he explained, “so he don’ speak English so good.”
To my shame they talked to me because they pitied me. I guess I looked out of place. Even with my suit torn I looked like a swell, with my Jermyn Street neckwear and a hanky in my sleeve. To my comrades I was a tragic figure — the mighty fallen, a victim of hubris or fate....
Thanks to the guys I met in jail, the kindness of the detention centre staff and the compassion of the judge, my faith in America survives. I detest the present US government. And I acknowledge all the nightmare episodes that warp the American dream: the skewed values, the failures of compassion, the darkness of death row, the poverty of popular culture, the arrogance abroad.
I was brought up, moreover, to be anti-American. Spaniards in my childhood — especially those who belonged to my mother’s circle of liberal exiles — tended, not altogether justly, to blame Eisenhower for Franco. Almost all European intellectuals in the 1950s hated hamburgers and Hollywood, and seemed both fascinated and repelled by Elvis Presley’s pelvic gyrations.
It took me a long time and various visits to America to overcome the effects of my upbringing and to begin to perceive the nation’s virtues. Despite all the individualist rhetoric it is a land of remarkable social solidarity, where people make sacrifices for neighbourly feeling and civic pride.
As the Union took shape, for every gunslinger on Main Street or maverick in the corral, there were always thousands of solid citizens in the wagon trains and stockades. Nowadays well over half the population has some kind of further or higher education. Outside the Atlanta police force, I meet — with very few exceptions — decent, kindly people who, if they vote for Mr Bush, do so out of honest delusion.
After my misfortune I remain lucky to be in America, in a gloriously liberal university with wonderful students and colleagues. So it grieves me to see the anti-Americanism with which I grew up renewed around the world....
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (1-18-07)
After completing his doctorate at Fordham in 1999, Halsall took a tenure track position as Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Florida. There, he was out as a gay activist and, in May 2005, complained on local television about a police raid on local gay bars. Within an hour of his public complaint, Halsall was arrested by the police for selling cocaine to an undercover agent. He was first suspended and, then, his resignation demanded by University officials. In court, Halsall pled nolo contendere, but the damage was done. For more information, see David Meadows's Rogue Classicism; the comments, including Halsall's own, at N. S. Gill's Ancient/Classical History and Scott Carson's An Examined Life; and this site for Halsall's defense.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-19-07)
“I once had to fill out a form on the race and age of everyone that I interviewed for a project,” Schrag said. “That would make sense for a medical study where you want to make sure that you’re getting a representative sample, but it’s really none of the IRBs’ business when it comes to history work.”
Schrag started Institutional Review Blog (<http://institutionalreviewblog;) to document unfortunate encounters with IRBs, and to create an interdisciplinary community of researchers from across academe — fields such as communications, history and psychology — who struggle with IRBs. He has been providing links to reports and new studies and said that he has been getting some positive feedback from people who also feel his frustration.
While they were designed to protect people who participate in experiments, critics say that IRBs have expanded their oversight and now sometimes regulate activities such as interviews with family members. In the late 1970s, the agency that is now called the Department of Health and Human Services revised and expanded the regulations that govern IRBs, and published the Belmont Report, which explains the underlying ethical guidelines for protecting human subjects....
SOURCE: Daily Show (1-17-07)
SOURCE: Yale Office of Public Affairs (1-18-07)
One of the most respected historians in his field, Davis is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of History and the founding director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale.
Among the 18 books to his credit are “Slavery and Human Progress” (1984), “The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture,” for which he received the 1967 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution,” which earned a 1976 National Book Award, and most recently, “Inhuman Bondage, The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World” (2006). In addition to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Davis has been the recipient of the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes and the 2004 Society of American Historians’ Bruce Caton Prize for Lifetime Achievement. He is past president of the Organization of American Historians (1988–89).
The AHA Award for Scholarly Distinction has been given since 1984 to “senior historians of the highest distinction in the historical profession who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in the United States.”
The citation announcing Davis’ award reads in part: “Over the past half century, no scholar has played a larger role in expanding contemporary understanding of how slavery shaped the history of the United States, the Americas, and the world than David Brion Davis. . . .[He] writes comparative history that cuts across boundaries of time and space, and cultural history that explores the intersection of ideas and social context.… [H]is work has demonstrated the interconnectedness of historical experiences too often viewed in isolation. Moral imagination has animated all of David Brion Davis’s historical inquiries, which have been attuned to the ideological shifts that, in his words, might ‘enable human society to be something more than an endless contest of greed and power.’”
SOURCE: NYT (1-17-07)
SOURCE: Maureen Dowd in the NYT (1-17-07)
The book was recommended to W. by Henry Kissinger, who is working on an official biography of himself with Mr. Horne.
Mr. Horne recalled that Dr. Kissinger told him: “The president’s one of my best students. He reads all the books I send him.” The author asked the president’s foreign affairs adviser if W. ever wrote any essays on the books. “Henry just laughed,” Mr. Horne said.
It seems far too late for Mr. Bush to begin studying about counterinsurgency now that Iraq has cratered into civil war. Can’t someone get the president a copy of “Gone With the Wind”?
Maybe it was inevitable, once W. started reading Camus’s “L’Etranger,” set in Algeria, that he would move on to Mr. Horne. As The Washington Post military correspondent Tom Ricks wrote in November, the Horne book has been an underground best-seller among U.S. military officers for three years, and “Algeria” has become almost a code word among counterinsurgency specialists for the mess in Iraq. The Pentagon screened the 1966 movie “The Battle of Algiers” in 2003, but the commander in chief must have missed it.
I asked Mr. Horne, who was at his home in a small village outside Oxford, England, what the president could learn from his book.
“The depressing problem of getting entangled in the Muslim world,” he replied. “Algeria was a thoroughly bloodthirsty war that ended horribly and cost the lives of about 20,000 Frenchmen and a million Algerians. There was a terrible civil war. ...De Gaulle ended up giving literally everything away and left without his pants.”
President de Gaulle had all the same misconceptions as W., that his prestige could persuade the Muslims to accept his terms; that the guerrillas would recognize military defeat and accept sensible compromise; and that, as Mr. Horne writes, “time would wait while he found the correct formula and then imposed peace with it.”
Mr. Horne also sees sad parallels in the torture issue: “The French had experience under the Nazis in the occupation and practiced methods the Germans used in Algeria and extracted information that helped them win the Battle of Algiers. But in the long run it lost the war, because it caused such revulsion in France when the news came out, and there was huge opposition to the war from Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.”
In May 2005, Mr. Horne gave a copy of his book to Rummy, with passages about torture underlined. “I got a savage letter back from him,” the author said.
The best thing now, he said, is to try to “get around the mullahs” and “get non-Christian forces in there as quickly as possible, mercenaries. As Henry said the other day, if only we had two brigades of Gurkhas to send to Baghdad.”
Meanwhile, maybe W. should move on to reading Sartre. “No Exit,” perhaps.
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Historians (1-12-07)
Among the more than 250 college professors who have been killed since 30 April 2003 in Iraq are the following historians:
**Khalid M. al-Janabi, PhD. in Islamic history, faculty member at the College of Art, Babylon University. Date of assassination unknown.
**Essam Sharif Mohammed (also spelled Hissam Sharif), Ph.D in History, assistant professor at the College of Art, Baghdad University. Date of assassination: 25 October 2003.
**Mahfoudh al-Qazzaz, PhD. in Islamic history; faculty member at the College of Art, Mosul University. Killed by a death squad in front of his family at his home in Mosul on 20 December 2004.
**Jamhour Karim Kammas Al Zargani, PhD. in History; department head at the College of Education at Al- Basrah University. Abducted for two days, tortured, and killed. His family found the dead body with broken arms and legs in a nearby street in Basra on 19 August 2005.
**Kemal Nassir, professor of history, lecturer in Mustansiriya and Kufa. Date of assassination: 1 October 2006.
**In addition, Abd-Asalam Ali Hussein, PhD. in Islamic History, was arrested on 22 May 2005.
The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA), London, is one of several human-rights organizations launching a petition campaign for these scholars. To sign, please visit CARA's homepage at http://www.academic-refugees.org. Thank you.
With best wishes,
Antoon De Baets (Network of Concerned Historians)
P.S.: For other news about Iraqi history and archives, see the NCH Annual Reports of 1998, and 2000 up to 2006, all soon available on http://www.concernedhistorians.org.
SOURCE: H-NET List for African History and Culture on behalf of Jeremy Rich (1-16-07)
of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is very sadden to
share the news that Prof. Victor C. Uchendu,
founding director of our unit has passed away on
December 7, 2006. He was buried in Nsirimo, Nigeria on December 22, 2006.
It is particularly troubling because we
understand from his family that he was killed in
his home at Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria, and
that individuals were hired to kill him to stop
him from becoming the mayor of his community.
According to the Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard,
this violent crime has not been fully or
satisfactorily solved. We are still seeking more information on this case.
Prof. Uchendu was the director of the Center for
African Studies, University of Illinois from
1971-1980. He led a very distinguished career,
as you can see from the following biography published by his family.
We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to
his family and friends during this difficult time.
From the faculty and staff of the Center for
African Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
FAMILY ORATION ON HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, EZE (PROF.)
VICTOR CHIKEZIE UCHENDU; FATHER,
GRANDFATHER, BROTHER, UNCLE
Jan. 1 st 1930 - Dec. 7th 2006
Our father (Prof. Victor Chikezie Uchendu) was
the first child of the late Ezeji Isaac Uchendu
Aburonye, of Umuerim Nsirimo, and the late
Enyidiya Sabanna Nwampagha Uchendu of Ezu na Erim
Autonomous Community Umuahia South Local Government.
He was definitely in his mother's womb during the
Abia Women's Riot in 1929; hence his mother, a
woman activist, could not participate in the
Women's Rally taking place in Aba. The exact day
and month of his birth could only be placed in late 1929 or early 1930.
Education: Our father started school in 1938 at
the Infant School and attended a variety of
Catholic schools including: St. Joseph's Catholic
School in Nsirimo, St. Jude's Amapu Ntigha and St. Anthony's Nbawsi.
In our father's primary school days, he told us
that he made blunders in his best subject
(mathematics) during the Standard 6 final exams
(1945). He finished the paper 40 minutes early,
copied his answers and submitted his papers.
Those who completed their papers 40 minutes later
came and compared answers with their classmate
(Chike Obi) and thought they had failed. Mr. V.
Njoku, the headmaster at the time, solved the
problems and showed that his "Agar Khan" grade
class mathematician was wrong and others were right.
Our father passed the Standard 6 exam probably
because his processes were correct. The lesson of
that exam on patience and thoroughness guided his
life as a pupil teacher where he came first in
all the Teacher's Grading exams, and received the
highest number of distinctions in the Teachers
High Elementary exams of 1951 to 1953 at Bishop
Shanahan Teacher's College (BSTC). As a mark of
distinction, our father was invited to teach
Geography at BSC Secondary from Class 1-5 in
1953. The following year he was moved over to the Teachers Training Wing of
Bishop Shanahan College.
He was an academic giant: a "teacher of
teachers", an administrator, a social
anthropologist, and an economic and community
leader. After his college education at BSTC, he
taught for several years before proceeding to the
University College, Ibadan, in 1959 where he
studied Economics. "Twice-a- Prize" winner at the
University College, he led his class, earning the
Departmental Prize (1959-60) and the Faculty
Prize (1960-61); the first student of the Faculty to achieve such a
distinction at Ibadan. He obtained the following
degrees both here and abroad: B.Sc. Econ (Hons)
London University; M.A. and PhD from Northwestern
University, USA. As a recipient of a Rockefeller
scholarship to Northwestern University in
Evanston, Illinois, our father completed his
masters and Ph.D. in record time of three years;
a record that still stands today.
Professor Uchendu has taught at all levels of
education and has been associated with teaching
and lectureship in three continents since 1966;
USA (1965-1968; 1971-1980), Africa (l969-1971;
1980-2006), and Asia (1970). He has lectured at
over 250 universities and institutions and is a
widely published author. Suffice it to say that
he was an eminent figure that served on numerous
bodies in a variety of capacities, including, but not limited to the
* Consultant, Dept. of Sociology, Abia State University (2003-2006)
* Director of the Institute of Public Policy
and Administration, University of Calabar, Cross River ( 1988-200 I )
* Professor, Dept. of Sociology, University
of Calabar, Cross River (1980- 1986)
* Foundation Dean of the Graduate School,
University of Calabar, Cross River (1982-1985)
* Appointed Professor of Anthropology by the
University of Illinois, Urbana, in April, 1970
and assumed office in March, 1971 as the
Foundation Director of the University's African Studies Centre
* President, African Studies Association of North America (1976)
* Committee member of the Harvard College
Overseer's Committee to the Dept. of
AfroAmerican Studies of Harvard University (1974-1977)
* Consultant to many International
Organizations, including the U.S.A. Office of
Education, the National Science Foundation, the World Bank and UNESCO,
* Listed in the American Men and Women of
Science (1973); Outstanding Educators of America
(1975); Who's Who in the Midwestern USA (since
1975); and Who's Who in the United States (1979).
A professor of Sociology and Anthropology for
over 30 years, he has taught and held academic
and administrative positions in leading Nigerian
and international universities including Stanford
University, Makerere University, University of
Ghana, Legon and University of Illinois, Urbana.
He was a widely published scholar with 15 books
authored, co-authored or edited by him. His
contributions to academic journals are equally impressive and commendable.
Other Titles Held by Prof. V.C. Uchendu
* Member of two Title Societies in Nsirimo:
Eze Okonko (1986) and Eze Ji (1978)
* Izumba I of Ngurunwenkwo (1988) by His
Royal Highness Eze I.E. Nwachukwu-Udaku
* Ebube Dike I of Okata (1989) by His Royal Highness Igwe Dr. M.A. Okoro
Philanthropic Efforts of Prof. V.C. Uchendu
Our father has always been a great
philanthropist. He has contributed to many causes
in church and society. He was a founder and
manager of institutions that promote charities
and benefactions. He founded the Enyidiya Uchendu
Foundation that contributed to secondary and university educational efforts.
In 2003, he founded the Dr. Gann Ewulonu
Foundation that encourages the training of
general medical practitioners at Abia State
Teaching Hospital. The Foundation also provides
cash prizes to Nsirimo students in primary and
secondary schools. The Foundation is made
possible by the generous contributions from
members of the Eze's family and Committee of Friends he assembled.
SOURCE: http://www.timesnews.net (1-15-07)
Wills, a Kenneth Asbury Professor of History at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, combines two of his passions - history and movies - in his latest book, "Gone With The Glory: The Civil War in Cinema."
Wills said he has been an avid movie fan since boyhood.
"I always preferred the historical epics to other genres, partly because of my interest in history and partly because these films were what I thought movies should be. That is, big and entertaining depictions of another place and time," Wills said.
In "Gone With The Glory," Wills examines the portrayal of the war in film, exploring what Hollywood got right and wrong, how the films influenced one another and, ultimately, how films reflect the nation's changing perception of the conflict and the country.
From the 1915 "Birth of a Nation" cinematic legend to "Cold Mountain" in 2003, hundreds of directors, actors and screenwriters have used the Civil War to create compelling drama. However, Wills said every generation of filmmakers has resolved the tug-of-war between entertainment value and historical accuracy differently.
"In the case of the American Civil War, the tableau is rich in color, conflict and character," Wills said. "Yet some producers, directors and performers have less interest in, or knowledge of, the demands of history than others. Many will use the war as a mere backdrop or context rather than seeking to inform audiences of the issues and complexities of the conflict itself. Others cast the struggle in the simplest forms. Even in the best of situations there is always a tug-of-war between two powerful poles: entertainment value and historical accuracy." ...