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: WaPo (4-11-07)
Yesterday, however, students at Georgetown University heard and questioned the influential Egyptian-born writer as he gave the first of three public lectures to be delivered on the campus by satellite video hookup from London. For 90 minutes, he appeared on a large screen in Gaston Hall, seated and wearing a sports jacket and open shirt, with Big Ben in the background.
"Why Tariq Ramadan cannot be with us physically today, we are still not sure. But if we are serious about dialogue between Islam and the West, we need to listen to Islam's most important voices," said Thomas Banchoff, director of Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, which is sponsoring the lectures.
Ramadan, a citizen of Switzerland, is an outspoken but contradictory figure in Islamic scholarship. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most influential Islamic groups of the past century. He is popular with audiences in Europe, but he has been banned from entering France and accused of supporting the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (4-11-07)
India's Supreme Court on Monday ordered the western Indian state of Maharashtra to stop the criminal prosecution of an American scholar, James W. Laine, who had been charged with deliberately stirring sectarian strife in an academic book published four years ago.
The publication of Mr. Laine's book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, by Oxford University Press in 2003 angered some caste and religious groups in Maharashtra. The groups said the book insulted Shivaji, a 17th-century Hindu king, and questioned his parentage....
In January 2004, a mob ransacked the prestigious Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, in the Maharashtrian city of Pune, for having given research assistance to Mr. Laine. Hundreds of rare manuscripts were destroyed. The Pune police subsequently charged Mr. Laine and the publisher with "wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot." The Oxford press then voluntarily pulled all copies of the book from the Indian market.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (4-6-07)
"I was looking to move to the Northeast, though I really had no expectation that this job would become available," says Ms. Jasanoff (Class of 96). Both the job and the prospect of "home-cooked meals" with her family and her brother's family were irresistible, she says.
Ms. Jasanoff has taken a circuitous route back to the neighborhood: M.Phil. at Cambridge University, Ph.D. at Yale University, a post-doc at the Michigan Society of Fellows, and the last few years as an assistant professor at the University of Virginia.
At Cambridge and Yale, she began doing research for her first book, Edge of Empire, a look at British collectors of Eastern antiquities, which won the prestigious Duff Cooper Prize for 2005. She's now working on a new book about the British Loyalists who left the former colonies for Canada, the Caribbean, Sierra Leone, and South Asia after the American Revolution.
In 1998 Ms. Jasanoff's mother, Sheila S. Jasanoff (Class of 64), joined the John F. Kennedy School of Government as a professor of science and public policy, and her father, Jay H. Jasanoff (Class of 62), joined the faculty of arts and sciences as a professor of linguistics. The two are surprised and pleased that academe has brought the family together again. "The odds are so profoundly against it," says the materfamilias.
SOURCE: http://www.sciencedaily.com (4-10-07)
In an article published in Historical Research, Alwyn Ruddock’s extraordinary claims are explored by Dr Evan Jones of the University of Bristol.
In Spring 2006, all Dr Ruddock’s research material was destroyed, in line with the instructions in her will. However, her correspondence with her intended publisher, the University of Exeter Press, survived. Using this correspondence Dr Jones has investigated the research that Dr Ruddock had worked on, and kept secret, for so many years.
"To describe Alwyn Ruddock’s claims as revolutionary," said Dr Jones, "is not an exaggeration." Her apparent findings include information about how John Cabot persuaded Henry VII to support his voyages and why the explorer was able to win the backing of an influential Italian cleric: Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis, an Augustinian friar who was also in charge of collecting the Pope’s taxes in England.
Dr Ruddock’s most exciting claims, however, involve John Cabot’s 1498 voyage to America . While the fate of this expedition has long been a mystery, Dr Ruddock appears to have found evidence of a long and complex exploration of the American coastline, which culminated in Cabot’s return to England in the spring of 1500, followed shortly by his death. During this voyage, Dr Ruddock suggests that Cabot explored a large section of the coastline of North America, claiming it for England in the process.
Dr Ruddock intended to reveal that while Cabot was sailing south down the coast of America his chief supporter, Fra Giovanni, was establishing a religious colony in Newfoundland. Having disembarked from his ship, the Dominus Nobiscum, Fra Giovanni apparently established a settlement and built a church. This church, the first to be built in North America, was named after the Augustinian church of San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples.
Dr Jones said: "Ruddock’s claims about the 1498 voyage are perhaps the most exciting of all. For while we have long known that Fra Giovanni accompanied the expedition, along with some other 'poor Italian friars', nothing has been known of what happened to their mission. If Ruddock is right, it means that the remains of the only medieval church in North America may still lie buried under the modern town of Carbonear."
Dr Ruddock’s claims are clearly extraordinary but are they all correct? This is an issue that remains, in large part, to be resolved. In his article, Dr Jones shows that in many cases Alwyn Ruddock’s claims can be substantiated by reference to previously unknown material. However, much remains to be done....
SOURCE: http://www.knoxnews.com (4-6-07)
Historian Mary Beth Norton knew the outcome of the Salem witchcraft crisis and trials of 1692, but she didn't buy the story of how it all came about.
Her inquiry would result in a prize-winning book called "In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692." On Thursday, University of Tennessee students heard Norton's take on the subject during a lecture called "Salem Witchcraft: Myth and Reality."
She told students the "standard brief narrative" about the cause of the trials, one she tested and eventually debunked in her 2003 book. Allegedly the crisis began this way:
In the winter of 1691-92, a group of young girls and teenagers, bored with life in the rural village of Salem, Mass., began experimenting with fortunetelling, perhaps even with voodoo or black magic, under the leadership of a black slave owned by a local minister. Out of that, accusations of witchcraft arose and the hysteria spread into a witchhunt.
Digging through Cornell University's Witchcraft Collection, Norton found many of the accused were not from Salem. The accused were not all women, or even young women. About a quarter of the accused were men, and some of them were prominent men.
She looked at the region as a whole, which hadn't been done before, she said. Using that approach, Norton would find a link between the Indian Wars on the Maine frontier in the 1660s and the witchcraft crisis. She decided to write a "dual narrative of war and witchcraft because the two things were totally intertwined."
"I realized that so many of the people whose names I was familiar with from the trial records were actually from Maine," she said. "They were playing out conflicts that had started, in many cases, from years earlier on the Maine frontier."...
"I don't think the northern wars caused the witchcraft crisis, but the crisis would not have occurred if the wars had been averted. Because the wars created the climate of fear that allowed the expansion of the crisis beyond those first accusations," she said....
SOURCE: http://www.examiner-enterprise.com (4-10-07)
He said no group should try to disassociate itself from another group that for so long has been part of its history.
“I just think it is scandalous, really,” Franklin said.
Cherokee Chief Chad Smith has said that as a sovereign nation, the tribe has a right to determine its identity.
In a round-table discussion with reporters at the Oklahoma History Center, Franklin said he also did not understand all the speculation about whether the United States is “ready” for a woman president or a black president.
“I can certainly tell you, I’ve been ready all of my life,” said Franklin, co-author of the classic text, “From Slavery to Freedom,” which soon will be in its 9th edition.
“Even Liberia has a woman leader,” he said, before rattling off a long list of nations that have been led by women.
Franklin was born in Rentisville and graduated from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1931, a decade after the Tulsa race riot. His father, B.C. Franklin, was an attorney who handled lawsuits stemming from the riot.
SOURCE: http://www.hurriyet.com (4-11-07)
Sarafian called the church's re-opening, which took place after a long and expensive restoration process carried out by the Turkish government "an important peace offering." According to Sarafian, the restoration of the Akdamar Church represents a clear response to the many accusations of "cultural genocide" lodged by the Armenian community outside of Turkey. He also noted that the step taken in opening up the church had caused surprise in this community.
SOURCE: NYT (4-10-07)
About 25,000 years ago, a prehistoric artist carved the yardlong, bas-relief sculpture into the yellowish ceiling of a shallow rock shelter known today as the Abri du Poisson. The image is so vivid and detailed that experts have been able to make out its species, Salmo salar, the Atlantic salmon.
The fish is framed by a rectangular pattern of deep, closely spaced holes, which, according to Périgord lore and guidebooks on sale at the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies, are the remnants of an abortive attempt by a Swiss archaeologist to remove this precious artwork and sell it to Berlin’s prehistory museum.
Conventional accounts of the episode, which dates to 1912, maintain that this treachery was stopped just in time by the valiant efforts of French prehistorians led by Denis Peyrony, a local schoolteacher who founded the Les Eyzies museum and conducted some of the Périgord’s most important archaeological digs.
On a crisp evening in March, however, the archaeologist Randall White of New York University stood at the lectern of the museum’s 126-seat auditorium and told the capacity crowd a very different story. The Swiss archaeologist, Otto Hauser, was innocent, Dr. White argued, the victim of an ugly press campaign that included vicious anti-Semitic and anti-German slurs, even though Hauser was neither Jewish nor German.
As Dr. White maintains in his new book in French on the scandal, “L’Affaire de L’Abri du Poisson,” the attempted abduction of the fish was carried out entirely by local French citizens, including the owner of the surrounding land....
SOURCE: Eric Alterman at his blog, Altercation (4-9-07)
Note that when the reporter asks Foote's grandson about Kai's discovery, he replied,"I can only assume that Mr. Bird has ulterior motives to besmirch my grandfather's name, possibly for Mr. Bird's own celebrity." Now, this is plainly crazy. Kai shared the Pulitzer Prize in biography lately. Writing a 17,000-word investigation of a 50-year-old Cold War argument that hardly anyone cares about anymore and identifying as the culprit someone almost no one has ever heard of is hardly a sensible path to" celebrity" for a Pulitzer Prize and National Books Critics' Circle Award-winning biographer. If the reporter had considered the comment even for a moment, it did not deserve to go into the piece.
Meanwhile, let's see what those conservatives who have so much invested in Hiss' guilt have to say about Kai's careful research. I'm guessing most will try to ignore it.
SOURCE: Eric Foner in a review in the NYT Book Review (4-8-07)
Freehling himself inadvertently makes this case. At one point he remarks that “blacks’ impact remains the most overlooked cause of the Civil War.” Without runaways seeking liberty there would have been no political crisis over fugitive slaves. Without one slave’s suit for freedom, there would have been no Dred Scott decision. But Freehling never returns to this striking insight, partly because his emphasis on stories involving political actors leaves little room for the slaves. The men, women and children over whose fate political battles raged and who, in fact, made up a majority of South Carolina’s population, remain largely invisible in this account of the road to disunion.
SOURCE: Gordon Wood in the NYT Book Review (4-8-07)
Hunt, the Eugen Weber professor of modern European history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a distinguished expert on 18th-century France, says that “human rights require three interlocking qualities: rights must be natural (inherent in human beings), equal (the same for everyone) and universal (applicable everywhere).” This conception of human rights, she explains, had its origins in the Western Enlightenment of the 18th century. Although the English had issued a Bill of Rights in 1689, that document derived from the particularities of English law and English history and did not declare the equality, universality or naturalness of rights. It was left to Thomas Jefferson and the American Congress in 1776 to issue the first notable human rights proclamation. But it was the French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 that had the greatest impact on Western thinking....
SOURCE: WaPo (4-6-07)
The claim was presented Thursday at a daylong symposium, "Alger Hiss & History," at New York University. It provided new information that, if true, could point toward a posthumous vindication of Hiss, who was accused of spying for the Soviet Union and spent nearly five years in prison for perjury before his death in 1996 at age 92.
Also at the conference, a stepson of Hiss argued that Hiss' chief accuser invented the spy allegations after his sexual advances were rejected.
Author Kai Bird said there was new evidence to suggest that the real spy was another U.S. official named Wilder Foote. Hiss was accused of feeding secrets to the Soviet military intelligence agency GRU under the code name Ales.
Bird said he and co-researcher Svetlana A. Chervonnaya had identified nine possible suspects among U.S. State Department officials present at the U.S.-Soviet Yalta conference in 1945. A process of elimination based on their subsequent travels to Moscow and Mexico City excluded eight of them, including Hiss, he said.
"It left only one man standing: Wilder Foote," Bird said.
SOURCE: Higher Education Supplement (4-8-07)
An Israeli academic has suggested that Jewish student groups are courting Muslim anger by aligning themselves with the state of Israel.
Ilan Pappé, who is leaving Haifa University to take up a chair in history at Exeter University this year, said some Jewish students had become "ambassadors of Israel".
He said: "Muslim anger is directed at them not because they are Jews but because of their unqualified support for the state of Israel, which Muslims see as an oppressive country."
Professor Pappé, who previously accused Israel of "ethnically cleansing" Palestinians and supported a boycott of Israeli academics, was responding to suggestions that Jewish students were under increasing threat from anti-Semitism on campus.
In its response to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry on Anti-Semitism published last week, the UK Government notes "real concerns that practice (in addressing anti-Semitism) is not consistent across the sector".
Professor Pappé played down those claims. "Jewish students are not taken away by MI5 for questioning," he said. "Muslims are feeling real pressure from the state organ, whereas Jewish students are on the winning side. The Semites who suffer racism today are Muslims, not Jews."
Mitch Simmons, the Union of Jewish Students campaigns officer, said: "We are worried that he will use his position to influence debate and that his views will gain more legitimacy."...
SOURCE: Hugh Fitzgerald in the New English Review (4-1-07)
In the audience was Vice President Cheney, who is reputed to be, if not an acolyte of Lewis, at least someone who thinks of him as the last word on Islam and how to deal with Islam. He apparently reveres Lewis' acuity, and accepts that "greatest-living-scholar-of-Islam" stuff (of a piece with the development-office exaggeration of "world-class" universities).
Lewis crept up on, but never quite got to, the very things one most wanted him to speak forthrightly about. He alluded quickly, in his scattered, à bâtons rompus discussion, to this or that topic, then skittered away, on to something else. Nothing was concluded, nothing told you where Lewis stood about matters today. He didn't praise the "war on terror" and he didn't attack the "war on terror." He never said that the phrase "the war on terror" is a misleading thing.
Instead, he pretended to be an historian deliberately au-dessus de la melée, who would provide an historian's perspective. He mentioned how, centuries ago, Muslim jurists in Morocco were asked if it was licit for Muslims to continue to live in the Iberian peninsula, but under non-Muslim rule, and they were told that they were not. And then, the audience waited to hear what he might say about Muslims living in Europe today, and how they manage to reconcile the idea of refusing to live under rule by non-Muslims with, for example, their new strength in numbers and money and easy links, through technology (telephone, Internet, airplanes) to Dar al-Islam, that make them able to remain in Europe, but not be of Europe, not have their Islam weakened by distance but, instead, often strengthened as a reaction to the new and puzzling environment, where Infidels, against nature and reason and Allah, are calling the shots. He said nothing about this.
And then he did something that was truly astonishing. He had earlier mentioned the two Muslim assaults on Europe: the Arab one that ended in the West, near Poitiers with the victory of Charles Martel in 732. And the one that started in the East, with the Turks, which was marked by the two assaults on Vienna, the second one in 1683, the high-water mark of Ottoman power in Europe.
And so, just toward the end, was this unremarked but remarkable sentence:
"Third time lucky?"
And that was how Bernard Lewis, sage of the age, the man whom so many in the Pentagon took as the last word on Islam because compared to what is dished out by Esposito and MESA Mostra he may appear to be that last word, dealt with the most terrifying danger to the survival of the West, offered a flippant phrase. Muslims by the millions, having settled within Western Europe, are now playing on the two pre-existing mental pathologies of antisemitism and anti-Americanism, as well as on the sentimental levelling (some call it "multiculturalism") of the entire Western world, that world that appears to have forgotten its own past achievements, and the legacy that deserves to be preserved, and fails to recognize the West's clear superiority to Islam, to everything about Islam. Such words as "superiority" and "primitivism" are regarded as smacking of "race superiority" or assumptions about those living in what is called "the Third World." But that is not how William James or Jacques Barzun used that word. It means something. Not merely different. Better. More admirable. Superior. Such words need to be brought back into unembarrassed circulation, if the Western peoples are to visit their museums and libraries, and law courts, and newspapers, and the deliberations of their parliaments (however unseemly their current leaders or those "taking a leadership role") and realize that yes, the civilization they inherited is indeed not only different from, but could never for a minute have been produced by, the world of Islam. And they need to realize also that the whole thing can go under, not through "terrorism" (though that has its place) but through Da'wa and demographic conquest, if not now opposed, halted, and reversed....
SOURCE: Lee White in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (4-6-07)
The failure to fill the Chief Historian slot in a timely manner has also impacted the vacant Bureau Historian position. Since the Bureau Historian works closely with the Chief Historian, it is felt by NPS officials that the new Chief Historian should have the prerogative of filling this key position.
SOURCE: Collegiate Times (4-4-07)
The book, entitled “Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History,” was written by Peter Wallenstein and is the first account of modern history of Virginia written by a historian.
The book is also the product of a collaborative effort from his fall 2005 university Honors Program colloquium, consisting of nine undergraduate students. The students were brought together from a variety of majors and grade levels and researched, wrote and aided Wallenstein.
Wallenstein said the class began with an email from the office manager who schedules classes which asked him to teach a colloquium class for honors students. Hesitant at first, Wallenstein decided to make the class curriculum in an effort to help him write a book about Virginia history.
“(The class description) started with a little question: written any good books lately?” Wallenstein said. “Turned out none of them had.”
The book begins with Roanoke Island, even before Jamestown, and follows history all the way until “the day after tomorrow,” Wallenstein said. Only two books have been previously written about modern Virginia history, and they were published in the 1970s. One book was authored by a literature historian, and the other by a journalist.
“There was never a book that I wanted to use in class; there was always a problem that there was nothing I could use,” Wallenstein said. “This is the book that I would want to use in my class.”...
SOURCE: http://ejpress.org (4-5-07)
Ilan Pappe has published numerous books and essays accusing Israel of ?ethnically cleansing? the Palestinians.
"Zionism is far more dangerous to the safety of the Middle East than Islam," Pappe said in one interview recently and two years ago he was a major supporter of the Association of University Teachers? proposals for an academic boycott of Israel.
The Union of Jewish Students is one of a number of organisations who have said they are concerned about the appointment.
Mitch Simmons of UJS told The Jewish Telegraph: We?re concerned that his anti-Zionist views will spread to other British universities. If an Israel academic has been appointed with more balanced opinions, then that would be fine."...
SOURCE: Andrew Leonard at Salon.com (4-5-07)
Here is how Andrade introduces the idea:
Intensive Chinese colonization began abruptly in the 1630s, shortly after the Dutch East India Company established a trading port on Taiwan. The Dutch realized that their port's hinterlands could produce rice and sugar for export, but they were unable to persuade Taiwan's aborigines to raise crops for sale -- most were content to plant just enough for themselves and their families. The colonists considered importing European settlers, but the idea was rejected by their superiors in the Netherlands. So they settled instead on a more unusual plan: encourage Chinese immigration. The Dutch offered tax breaks and free land to Chinese colonists, using their powerful military to protect pioneers from aboriginal assault... In this way the company created a calculable economic and social environment, making Taiwan a safe place for Chinese to move to and invest in, whether they were poor peasants or rich entrepreneurs. People from the province of Fujian, just across the Taiwan Strait, began pouring into the colony, which grew and prospered, becoming, in essence, a Chinese settlement under Dutch rule. The colony's revenues were drawn almost entirely from Chinese settlers, through taxes, tolls, and licenses. As one Dutch governor put it, "The Chinese are the only bees on Formosa that give honey."
Regular readers of How the World Works know that I have something of a Taiwan fetish, given my years spent there in the mid-80s, and my conviction that the country plays an extraordinarily important role in both the global economy and the emerging narrative of China's rise in world affairs. So I'm generally a sucker for well-written Taiwanese history. But Andrade hooked me with a lure glistening with more than just the promise of intriguing historical ironies. It is his contention that the late 16th and early 17th centuries in East Asia, a period in which the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese all operated in pursuit of trading riches and power, offers an early look at globalization -- that it was here where the first true era of global trade emerged.
Again, let's return to the source:
We can glimpse the structure of the new global trade by focusing on its most important commodity: silver. In 1637 a Spanish official wrote that "China... is the general center for the silver of Europe and Asia." Recent scholarship corroborates his view. During the sixteenth century, silver production and trade increased dramatically and, although the metal moved through a web of networks, most of it ended up in China. Indeed, China became a global "silver sink," drawing the metal from all over the world. So vast was China's demand that it may have affected major developments in Europe itself: "There would not have been a Spanish Empire in the absence of the transformation of the Chinese society to a silver base, nor would there have been the same sort of 'Price Revolution' (i.e., inflation) around the globe in the early modern period." China's thirst for silver shaped the pattern of global trade and colonialism and, what is most important for our inquiry, led to the colonization of Taiwan.
Icing on the cake? A key player in this drama was Koxinga, a.k.a. "the pirate king of Taiwan," the never-say-die Ming dynasty loyalist who ruled the Taiwan straits and defeated both the Manchu invaders and the Dutch in a series of extraordinary battles. So even as I write these words, my printer is chugging away printing out PDF versions of the rest of the chapters of "How Taiwan Became Chinese." In my geeky world there's nothing better for bedtime reading than a little dose of 16th century Taiwanese globalization....
SOURCE: Bernard Gwertzman at the website of the Council on Foreign Relations (4-5-07)
[Q] The British-Iranian hostages crisis has ended. What do you think was in the minds of the Iranians when the British sailors and marines were captured, and what do you think led to the dramatic release?
[A]My suspicion is that the capture itself was opportunistic. You had these Revolutionary Guards out there and they saw the British exposed and they seized them. At that point it became a question of what the top political leadership would do. And I think the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, decided to use the capture to whip up Iranian nationalistic sentiments and garner popular support for [the Iranian] government, which is relatively unpopular these days. Khamenei has the difficulty that he represents the ideology of the Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, who founded the current Iranian state. Khomeini had developed the doctrine that the clerics should rule until the Islamic promised one, the Mahdi, returned. And Khamenei represents that ideology which is puritan in character, puts restrictions on individual liberties, and is fairly dictatorial. It isn’t popular.
Although Iranians by and large, as far as we can tell, don’t much care for this ideology anymore, they are still very nationalistic. And so Khamenei played this capture of the British sailors as a national moment. You even had the medical students of Isfahan University issuing a communiqué demanding that the British sailors and marines not be released and be punished for their incursion into Iranian national sovereign waters.
[Q] And the decision to let them go after almost two weeks?
[A] Well, a moment of national fervor can’t be sustained very long. Khamenei had gotten out of it what he wanted to get out of it. In addition, British Prime Minister Tony Blair first responded by threatening to take the conflict to what he called a “different phase,” i.e. violence. The British immediately complained to the United Nations Security Council, which condemned Iran. And those kinds of actions and statements caused Iran to lose face, and made Khamenei dig in his heels. But on Sunday, the British Defense [Secretary Des Browne], announced that the British were engaged in direct bilateral talks behind the scenes with the Iranians. It’s clear that the British were prepared to make representations to Iran, that they had no desire to enter their waters, that they would avoid doing so. So the direct bilateral talks and the pledge not to violate Iranian sovereignty were face-saving for Iran.
Iran politics—and this is generally true of politics on the whole—is all about saving face. The combination of Khamenei having gotten what he could get domestically out of the capture, the British change in tone, which was instanced by the Iranian spokesman, and also the dangerousness of the whole enterprise—it could spiral out of control after all—contributed to the decision to end it....
SOURCE: HNN Staff (4-5-07)
Mr. Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, is the author of The Rise of American Democracy. His book was the subject of a panel at the OAH.
In the course of the proceedings James Stewart of Macalester College gave Mr. Wilentz a t-shirt featuring the image of Karl Marx and the slogan:"Earn Big Money. Become a Historian." The t-shirt was produced by the Radical History Review decades ago.
SOURCE: HNN Staff (4-6-07)
SOURCE: AP (4-4-07)
Stephane Dudoignon was arrested in the sensitive region of Sistan-Baluchestan, in southeastern Iran, on Jan. 30 after photographing a religious procession there, Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said....
Dudoignon, who is married to an Iranian woman, is living with his wife's family in Tehran, the French Le Monde daily reported Wednesday. He is not authorized to leave the city, Le Monde said.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Alfred University (NY) (4-3-07)
He will share his thoughts about the significance of the periodic table during the ninth annual Samuel R. Scholes Jr. Lecture, scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in Nevins Theatre, Powell Campus Center on the Alfred University campus.
Dimitri Mendeleev (1834-1907) developed the periodic table of the elements and it is considered his most important scientific contribution. “The periodic table in all of its various manifestations is chemistry’s most important organizational tool,” said J. Robert Pipal, professor of chemistry and organizer of the annual chemistry lecture.
Scerri has written a book with the same title as his lecture, “The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance,” which was published in September 2006 by Oxford Press, USA, to critical acclaim. Author and physician Dr. Oliver Sacks described the book as “an absolutely gorgeous book. I put it on my bedside table and then stayed up half the night reading it – it is immensely readable.”
Originally from Malta, Scerri grew up in England and attended the Universities of London, Cambridge and Southampton where he obtained qualifications in chemistry, followed by a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from King’s College, University of London. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at California Institute of Technology (CalTech).
He is considered a pioneer in the sub-discipline of the history and philosophy of chemistry. Ten years ago, he started the journal, Foundations of Chemistry, that he still edits. He has authored more than 100 articles on chemical education and history and philosophy of science.
SOURCE: Robin Lindley in Seattle's Real Change (3-21-07)
Something is wrong with capitalism as it now stands in the United States. We are not interested in being integrated into this value structure . . . [A] radical redistribution of power must take place.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Memphis, Tennessee. April 4, 1968. A bullet from an assassin’s high-powered rifle struck Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and threw him to the balcony floor outside his room at the Lorraine Motel.
Most Americans know that Dr. King died in Memphis, but few of them recall why he traveled there. In the last year of his life, King changed his focus from civil rights issues to ending the war in Vietnam and ending poverty at home. In early 1968, 1,300 mostly black, underpaid sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike for better working conditions and union recognition. King heeded the call to Memphis to support these striking workers who epitomized the poverty and economic injustice he planned to dramatize with his Poor People’s Campaign.
University of Washington history professor Michael K. Honey has written the first definitive history of the sanitation worker’s strike in his new book, Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike and Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign (W.W. Norton, 2007). The book weaves the stories of the workers, activists, and local politicians with a detailed account of the last weeks of King’s life. Cornel West called the book, “A magisterial account of this neglected period.” Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal honored Jericho Road with starred reviews.
Dr. Michael Honey teaches African-American, Ethnic and Labor Studies and American History as a full professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma (UWT). He also wrote two previous award-winning histories: Black Workers Remember: An Oral History of Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle (1999), and Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (1993). He lives in Tacoma with his wife Patti Krueger, a music teacher at the University of Puget Sound.
Dr. Honey spoke with Real Change about the 1968 Memphis strike and Dr. King’s last weeks.
Real Change: What sparked your book on Dr. King and the 1968 Sanitation Worker’s Strike in Memphis?
Dr. Michael Honey: There wasn’t a major book on the Memphis sanitation strike. It needed to be done, and I tried to write a definitive version. I also had my own experience as organizer in the Deep South from 1970 to 1976 with police repression and civil liberties cases. I lived in Memphis at that time so I knew a lot of people in the book. It was a place that I could look at as a historian, but also know as an activist.
RC: What was the situation in Memphis in 1968?
MH: Basically,the leaders of Memphis thought that they had an admirable record on race relations, but in reality, it was a city of massive poverty in the black community. Over half of the black community was below the poverty line in the1960’s, and 86 percent of employed black men did laboring jobs. They were stuck at the bottom. A large proportion of black women [were] domestic workers in white people’s homes. The things that King was talking about when he was killed—social and economic justice—had not been addressed at all.
RC: Did the deaths of the two sanitation workers in February1968 spark this strike?
MH: It had been brewing for a long time. They had been organizing that union since 1959. When they came out publicly with the union demands in the early 1960’s, 33 workers were fired. That was the city’s response to people belonging to a union.
By 1968, the workers were very dissatisfied. February is not a time to strike in the garbage business. You want to strike in the summertime when it’s hot and the garbage will smell, pile up, and make it difficult for the city. But this crushing of two black men in the back of a sanitation packing truck combined with another incident in which workers were sent home with only two hours of pay because it rained—and the white workers were allowed to stay at work and make a whole day’s pay. Those two incidents together pushed people across the line. The city claimed it was a plot by the union, but it wasn’t at all. The workers had a meeting on a Sunday night and said, “Well hell, let’s not go back to work.” And that was the start of it.
RC: You the sanitation workers and the local leaders as well as Dr. King in the vein of a people’s history as in the works of Howard Zinn.
MH: Part of history is telling people’s stories, particularly people who have been left out. To tell this history, you can’t rely on the official sources because African-Americans are hardly found. So oral history became important to this projectwhere I could find the workers and have them tell the story as they remembered it.
RC: You stress that Dr. King was a champion of workers.
MH: I tried to show a side of King that nobody has written about—his strong ties to organized labor and his lifelong support for unions. He had been involved in a strike in Atlanta in 1964 that he helped to win. He had spoken before most of the major international unions of the country. He had strong allies among black and white labor leaders.
RC: It’s incredible that, just as Dr. King was planning the Poor People’s Campaign, this strike in Memphis prompts Rev. Lawson to call on King to come there and help the workers.
MH: It’s happenstance, yet it’s also fitting. King’s advisors urged him not to go to Memphis. They didn’t want to get him into a local struggle that might take over his energy. And also Memphis was a dangerous place. So they wanted him not to go there, but King said, “How can I not go there? These are poor people struggling for a better life and that’s exactly what we’re talking about in the Poor People’s Campaign.” So he went.
RC: A few days before his death, on March 28, 1968, Dr. King led a march in Memphis that became violent. Did you find any evidence that police or the FBI instigated that violence?
MH: The House Select Committee on Assassinations I believe said that there were undercover agents possibly involved in that disruption on March 28th. There might have been some undercover police involved. I don’t think we’ll ever know, but clearly a lot of people were ready to do that, and this had never happened to King before. He’d never been in a march where discipline broke down like that.
RC: And the police response to the marchers was extremely violent.
MH: It was a police riot more than anything. There was vandalism and some store windows broken, but the real violence was done by the police. And they killed a 16-year-old named Larry Payne who, witnesses said, had his hands in the air when a police officer stuck a shotgun in his stomach and pulled the trigger. It was a police attack on the movement, but the media played it up quite differently, saying the police were very restrained and prevented worse things from happening.
RC: This must have been a low point for King with his advisors, Black Power advocates and mainstream blacks questioning his actions.
MH: King was the man in the middle. The more conservative people in the Civil Rights Movement had been attacking him for his opposition to the Vietnam War, and they didn’t support Poor People’s Campaign. And the people in the Black Power movement in Memphis believed that the way to get a settlement was to increase the fear in the people who ran the city.
RC: Did you find evidence of FBI or police involvement in the death of Dr. King?
MH: The incredible thing is that there were police all over the area where King was shot at the Lorraine Motel. There were 40 police cars roaming the downtown and central portions of Memphis. There were FBI [agents] posted around the Lorraine Motel. The Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. Army had operatives in the city. So you had all these law enforcement and paramilitary agents operating, and yet, this one person— supposedly James Earl Ray—was able to penetrate all of that, shoot King, and get away.
As soon as King was shot, police poured into the courtyard at the Lorraine Motel. So the question people have is, where have you been? Why was there no protection for King? And there were a lot of reasons why there wasn’t. King never asked for protection, but also, the FBI never offered it. They could have been operating quite differently, but J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, wanted to destroy King politically. That didn’t mean he wanted to kill him, but he definitely was doing nothing to protect or help King.
RC: Dr. King was under scrutiny and threatened every day, yet kept going despite the harassment and threats.
MH: He knew either he or his aides were being wiretapped, and anything the FBI dug up could be used against him. He had faced death many times in the movement. I think he adopted a mode of operating where he was definitely fearful—anybody would be—but also aware that this was out of his control, that it was something he had to accept—that he was probably going to be killed somewhere.
King made speeches throughout the movement, not just in 1968, saying the most liberating thing is to get over the fear of death, and if you are not afraid to die for something, you are not fit to live. He had a sense that he was an instrument of history and had to just do his part, and whatever the consequences were he was going to accept. In his inspired speech the night before his death, he had a premonition of death, but he had a premonition of death all the time. That’s a hard way to live.
He told his parents shortly before he came to Memphis that there was this reward out to kill him, and he thought that he would be killed. Yet he just carried on.
RC: And you credit his wife, Coretta Scott King, with calming marchers in Memphis on April 8, 1968—just four days after his death.
MH: Yes. After King’s death, 135 cities went up in flames in the United States. It was the biggest military occupation in the United States since the Civil War with 50,000 troops in the streets. But in Memphis, people believed that King wanted to prove he could do this mass march with no violence. Coretta King courageously picked up the mantle, and went to Memphis. She led this march of about 20,000 people from all over the country. Her incredible composure helped people remain non-violent. While other cities were blowing up, Memphis was not. People remained disciplined and continued to support the strike. That went on for another couple weeks, and finally the strikers won.
RC: What are your thoughts on how Dr King would see the United States today?
MH: I think King would be appalled at where things have gone since 1968. He really had high hopes. He said that the United States [could] abolish poverty, and the way to do that is to change our priorities, and specifically stop spending all this money on war and military production and tax breaks for the rich, and begin to redirect income towards social and human needs. That was his platform when he died, and that’s right where we are today. As long as our government pours money down the drain through military spending and gives unbelievable amounts of wealth to people who already have unbelievable amounts of wealth, we can’t solve the human problems of poverty and racism and injustice, either at home or abroad.
SOURCE: Press Release -- UC Riverside (4-2-07)
“Historical Statistics of the United States: Earlier Times to the Present, Millennial Edition” also was named one of the 2007 Outstanding Reference Sources for small and medium-sized libraries by the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association; an ALA Booklist Editor’s Choice, and the Library Journal’s Best of Reference in 2006.
The five-volume set, published by Cambridge University Press, is the standard source for statistics about American history, ranging from population and voting patterns to energy, abortions and Vietnam veterans. The update expands the previous edition, published by the Census Bureau in 1975, from two to five volumes.
More than 80 scholars contributed to the 10-year project, helping select, edit and document the data, write introductory essays and analyze the material.
“Historical Statistics” will be listed in the May 2007 issue of “American Libraries.”
SOURCE: Steve Paulson at Salon.com (4-2-07)
Rumors about the gospel have circulated for centuries. Early church fathers called it a "very dangerous, blasphemous, horrendous gospel," according to historian Elaine Pagels. We now know that the manuscript was passed around the shadowy world of antiquities dealers, at one point sitting in a safe deposit box in a small town in New York for 17 years. Pagels herself was once asked by a dealer in Cleveland to examine it, but he only showed her the last few pages, which revealed little more than the title page. She assumed there was nothing of significance. Finally, the manuscript was acquired by the National Geographic Society, which hired Pagels as a consultant to study it.
More than any other scholar, Pagels has brought the lost texts of early Christianity to public attention. A Princeton historian of religion, she wrote the 1979 bestseller "The Gnostic Gospels" -- the book that launched the popular fascination with the Nag Hammadi manuscripts found by Egyptian peasants in 1945. That book, which won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, was later chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century. Pagels went on to write a series of acclaimed books about early Christianity and, along the way, recounted her own personal tragedies -- her young son's death after a long illness and, just a year later, her first husband's death in a hiking accident. It's no surprise that Pagels has felt compelled to wrestle with some of religion's thorniest subjects, like how to make sense of suffering and evil.
For much of her career, Pagels has straddled two worlds -- the academic and the popular. She's often the go-to expert when a magazine needs a comment on the latest theory about Mary Magdalene or some other bit of revisionist Christian history. But her standing among the scholars who study early Christianity is more complicated. Conservative scholars tend to dismiss the Gnostic texts as a footnote in Christian history, hardly worth all the hype that's been generated by "The Da Vinci Code" and other racy stories. Not surprisingly, these scholars have questioned Pagels' interpretations of early Christian texts.
With Harvard historian Karen L. King, Pagels has written a new book, "Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity." The authors argue that this recently discovered gospel offers a new understanding of the death of Jesus. I spoke with Pagels by phone about the bitter quarrels among early Christians, why it's a bad idea to read the Bible literally, and the importance of this new discovery. ...