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: Inside Higher Ed (12-31-07)
But in moves that infuriated the MLA’s Radical Caucus, the association’s Delegate Assembly refused to pass those resolutions and instead adopted much narrower measures. The association acknowledged tensions over the Middle East on campus, but in a resolution that did not single out pro-Israel groups for criticism. And the association criticized the University of Colorado for the way it started its investigation of Ward Churchill, but took no stand on whether the outcome (his firing) was appropriate.
The votes by the MLA’s largest governing council came in an at-times-surreal five-hour meeting. Cary Nelson, author of Manifesto of a Tenured Radical, was in the position of being the leading moderate, offering alternative language to defeat Radical Caucus proposals. Critics of Israel repeatedly talked about “facts on the ground” to refer to the treatment of Israel’s critics on campuses today, and it was unclear whether the term was being used ironically in light of the phrase’s use to describe Israel’s settlement policy on the West Bank and a recent book at the center of a Barnard College tenure controversy.
While material distributed by those seeking to condemn Churchill’s firing portrayed him favorably, and as a victim of the right wing, some of those who criticized the pro-Churchill effort at the meeting are long-time experts in Native American studies and decidedly not conservative. Many attendees were confused by the parliamentary procedure, and at least one proposed amendment that appeared to have significant backing (in theory) fell apart when questions were raised about its syntax.
After one vote that his side lost, Grover Furr, a Radical Caucus leader who teaches at New Jersey’s Montclair State University, called the meeting “a perversion of parliamentary procedures.”...
SOURCE: NYT (12-31-07)
Mr. Lapham, who edited Harper’s Magazine for nearly 30 years, retired from that job in 2006 only to start a new publication, Lapham’s Quarterly, which reached newsstands last month. Unlike Harper’s, which tackles a blend of topics each month, the new journal takes on a single subject — in the debut issue, war — and offers writings about it from ancient to modern times....
He acknowledged that the publication, which costs $15 an issue, would not appeal to a mass audience. But he said he was encouraged by the popularity of the History Channel and by sales of books like David McCullough’s biography of John Adams.
“The great rush of the electronic media tends to eliminate the past,” he said. “Everything is right now or 20 minutes from now, and this gives a sense of context and continuity. People like that.”
Apparently not all people. In The New Criterion, a conservative monthly journal, Roger Kimball, the editor, twice used the word “pretentiousness” in his assessment of the new magazine. He said Mr. Lapham’s “command of inconsequentiality has elicited comment for years.” Robert Wilson, editor of The American Scholar, found Lapham’s Quarterly “very smart” but said that because of the many contributors who were dead, “it feels a little like a museum.”
Samir A. Husni, the head of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi, said, “It’s not something that I would come back from work and say, ‘O.K., let me relax, have a glass of wine and read this magazine,’ which I would have done with Harper’s.” He added, “If you are interested in this topic, in those books, you have probably read them, you have probably spent time with them. And if you are not familiar with them, the presentation is not inviting.”
SOURCE: Cathleen Shine in the NYT Mag. (12-30-07)
During her lifetime, the last vestiges of Victorianism gave way to modernism, to pop, to postmodernism. Cars replaced horses. Television, computers, cellphones, the Internet all came to conquer the world she grew up in. She traveled to Europe just before World War II and after. Revolutions came, and revolutions went. But Stern barely registered these changes, for she was creating her own revolution.
Stern invented herself. She was the Gatsby of pedants. A fervent but utterly apolitical feminist in a world where feminists were bluestockings and then bra burners; a devoted scholar with a thriving business in a world where scholars were either academics or independently wealthy gentlemen; an innovative and revered entrepreneur in the leather-armchair world of gentlemen antiquarian book dealers; unmarried in a world where women were wives, Stern lived in a universe in which it was not possible to live the way she wanted to. She simply ignored that impossibility, created her own universe and, in a small but exquisite way, changed the world....
SOURCE: Neil Sheehan in the NYT Mag (12-30-07)
There were no secrets between us. On days when we were both in Saigon, rather than out in the countryside reporting on the fighting, we would fix on a story we sensed was ready to be told, set off separately to see our sources in order to limit their exposure and then share everything we gleaned.
Vietnam in 1963 was something unimaginable to most Americans, still basking in the triumphant glow of the Second World War. The conflict was being lost, but the commanding general, Paul Harkins, and the ambassador in Saigon, Frederick Nolting, insisted that victory was around the corner. Harkins and Nolting accused us and the other American reporters of spreading falsehoods. We were politically suspect. We ought to be fired. Many of our editors doubted us. David was just 28 when we teamed up, and I was 26. How could these kids be right when a four-star general and a senior diplomat said they were absolutely wrong?...
SOURCE: George Johnson in the NYT (12-25-07)
The come-ons were slicker and brighter than those I remembered from childhood trips out West. But the destination was the same: a curio store and gas station just off the highway at a remote whistle stop called Dragoon, Ariz.
Dragoon is also home to an archaeological research center, the Amerind Foundation, where a group of archaeologists, cultural anthropologists and historians converged in the fall for a seminar, “Choices and Fates of Human Societies.”
What the scientists held in common was a suspicion that in writing his two best-selling sagas of civilization — the other is “Guns, Germs and Steel” — Dr. Diamond washed over the details that make cultures unique to assemble a grand unified theory of history.
“A big-picture man,” one participant called him. For anthropologists, who spend their lives reveling in minutiae — the specifics and contradictions of human culture — the words are not necessarily a compliment.
“Everybody knows that the beauty of Diamond is that it’s simple,” said Patricia A. McAnany, an archaeologist at Boston University who organized the meeting with her colleague Norman Yoffee of the University of Michigan. “It’s accessible intellectually without having to really turn the wattage up too much.”...
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (12-24-07)
Professor Forthcomings do find other things to do to fill the time. Creating a site like The Truth about KC Johnson may be one of them. You have to hope that Duke's Professor Forthcoming isn't responsible for this one, though. A Duke faculty member with tenure would surely have the courage to publish these attacks in his or her own name. It's no longer, as KC had it, down-the-rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland. We're down-the-Yellow Brick Road, now, with Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion. If tenure gives them no courage, nothing will. A Duke faculty member undertaking such a big endeavor would surely know the difference between National Journal, a highly respected publication for which Stuart Taylor writes, and National Review, a respected, if much more partisan, journal. You'd want to think that a Duke faculty member would know the research subject's story well enough to know the difference between appearance and reality. At this late date, there's no excuse for saying that KC was"apparently" almost denied tenure.
And, surely, no Duke faculty member would want to commit libel, by archiving the most vicious e-mail received by Duke faculty members in the Duke lacrosse case (scroll down), on a site bearing KC Johnson's name. Well, that's not actually true. Duke's Bill Chafe accused KC of responsibility for those e-mails in an interview with the Duke Chronicle six months ago, only to back down from the charge when asked to offer evidence. Duke's Charles Piot repeated the libel three months later in"KC's World." Some of the folk at Duke seem to think that if you repeat a libel often enough, it will be accepted everywhere as established fact. But you might not have noticed it in Piot's work, because he topped it out by associating KC with the head of the American Nazi Party. I've reported KC to the Blogmeister Kommandante over at American Nazi Party for disloyalty to the cause of A White, Heterosexual Amerikka! Get a life, Professor Forthcoming. Do something constructive to earn your keep and justify your tenure.
SOURCE: David Kaiser at HNN Blog, Cliopatria (12-26-07)
Strauss and Howe wrote two major works of American history: Generations, The History of America’s Future(1991) and The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1996). I reviewed the latter book for the Boston Globe and posted the review yesterday on historyunfolding.com. As they explained to me many years ago, when they began Generations, they simply wanted to identify the various generations in American history and talk about their contributions to American life. In the midst of their research, however, they had an extraordinary epiphany. It began, Bill once told me, when they noticed the similarity between two sets of the generations to which they were giving names: the Republicans (Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Marshall), Compromisers (Clay, Webster, Buchanan) and Transcendentals (Garrison, Jefferson Davis, Sumner and Lincoln), on the one hand, and the GIs (JFK, Nixon, Reagan), Silents (John McCain, Colin Powell, Michael Dukakis) and Boomers (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Grover Norquist) on the other. Pursuing that lead, they discovered, and elaborated, a recurring 80-year pattern of generations and eras in American history. (My review, linked above, summarizes it.) More importantly, they predicted, first in Generations and more definitely in The Fourth Turning, that the United States would by 2010 or so at the latest find itself in the midst of a national crisis comparable to the civil war or the Great Depression and Second World War. Influenced by them, I repeated that warning at the end of my own American Tragedy, published in early 2000, and virtually everything that has happened since has confirmed, to me, that they were right.
In my opinion, those books were the most truly original and valuable historical works produced by the Boom generation (born 1943-1960 according to their definition, which is based on life experience rather than simple demographics.) Only amateurs, I am sorry to say, could have written it. Strauss had a law degree and a masters in public policy (and was also a founder of the comedy troop the Capitol Steps), and Howe had (perhaps wisely) quit graduate school before finishing his dissertation. They read widely to write their books, but were not deterred, as almost any professional would be, by the enormity of what they were trying to do. Their analyses are often impressionistic, and, like most Boomers, they could be quite dogmatic. They insisted on strict chronological boundaries between generations, and I have always felt that some of those boundaries were probably wrong. These are the kinds of rough edges that could eventually be smoothed out by more research and analysis, and they do not, for me, detract from the brilliance of their achievement. When I started reading Generations I disagreed with many things, but I was too excited to get a good night’s sleep for the better part of a week. Their books changed the way I viewed the world, and history, permanently, and many things that had puzzled me suddenly became clear.
Their reception both in the mainstream media and in academia has been disappointing. My own review was, I think, the only one they ever got that really understood what they were doing. Meanwhile, only two professional historians, as far as I know, have ever discussed their work at all. One is David Krein, an historian of 19th-century Britain, now retired, who wrote a fine article in The Journal of the Historical Society showing quantitatively that generational difference was a better predictor of voting behavior than party difference in the House of Commons during the 1840s. The other, of course, is myself. Strauss and Howe’s analysis of the GI (or “greatest”) generation found its way into American Tragedy, and helped explain a great deal about the way in which the veterans of the Second World War had assumed that they could replay it in Southeast Asia in the midst of a completely different era. More recently, I published an article in the journal the Monist, “Neither Marxist nor Whig: The Great Atlantic Crises, 1774-1962,” which showed how the theory could be applied across the whole Atlantic world, and not merely to the United States, with very striking results.
I have also found the theory to be a very powerful teaching tool. In 1998 I started an elective, “Generations in Film,” at the Naval War College, using movies, as well as one of their books, to look at the differences among generations in various different contexts from the 1930s to the present. It has been a consistent hit, and two alumni have arranged for me to speak about it elsewhere subsequently. Last year, as a visiting professor at Williams College, I got to try the course there, and the results were extraordinarily gratifying. Students love it because it allows them to place their generational archetype (Strauss and Howe identified four recurring ones) within other periods of history, and to understand more about the differences between them and their parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, it seems quite likely that that will be the only time such a course is given at an American college or university.
I also tried, and eventually succeeded, in convening a conference panel on the subject. I originally proposed it to the AHA in, I believe, 1998. Between them the four panelists (including Strauss and Howe) had written about 15 books, but the AHA refused the panel, claiming paradoxically that it was striving for a variety of topics. That was the last straw in my long and difficult relationship with that body, and I quit. But the Historical Association did host the panel in 2004, and it was quite successful. (Neil Howe presented a paper along with David Krein and myself, and Anne Rose commented. Bill Strauss was getting over a cancer treatment and could not make it.)
The Strauss-Howe books are, in my opinion, a sad commentary on the state of the historical profession—because no professional would ever even have attempted them. It would be difficult indeed to find a working professional historian with the kind of knowledge they showed of the whole sweep of American history going back to colonial times, and it would be impossible to find one, I think, who would dare to look for, and succeed in finding, the 80-year pattern. Professional historians are trained to lock themselves within narrow specialties, and those who break those rules pay a heavy price. I, like Strauss and Howe, have always felt that some historians should try to use the information that accumulates year after year in monographs to draw more profound conclusions. When in 1977—after my first year of teaching—I made that argument in a departmental retreat, a senior faculty member asked me if we should return to the days of “Frisky Merriman” at Harvard, who concluded his western civilization course by holding out his watch chain, letting the watch swing like a pendulum, and explaining that it represented the regular alternation of liberty and authority. That of course got a laugh, but I commented to another junior faculty member at a break that in my opinion, accumulated research should indeed allow us to do what Merriman did—only better. I eventually tried to do just that in Politics and War: European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler—a book that immediately became a main selection of the History Book Club, but which my fellow professionals have almost completely ignored. Yet I am not sorry to have spent the better part of a decade uncovering four different patterns of European conflict extending across four centuries of history. As Strauss and Howe also proved, broader patterns are there to be discovered if we take the time and show the enterprise to look for them.
Strauss and Howe discovered that their ideas have considerable resonance in the business and political worlds, where dollars and votes can depend on a proper understanding of different generations. Al Gore read Generations and I feel pretty sure that Karl Rove looked at The Fourth Turning at some point or another. A few secondary school teachers also use their ideas, and a few hundred amateurs debate them on the web site they established. My article in The Monist shows how they could be used to teach the modern history of the Atlantic World. I do not, however, see how their ideas will ever catch on at all widely in contemporary academia, where professionalization and ideology have left no room for truly original and far-ranging thought. My thanks go out to them, not only for letting me see the world and its history in a new way, but for proving that such work can still be done. Younger generations, I am sure, will read them with pleasure and profit in years to come.
SOURCE: NYT (12-26-07)
The cause was heart failure, his family said.
The author of dozens of books, Professor Garraty trained his eye in particular on the place in the American landscape where individual biography and wider social history meet. At his death, he was Gouverneur Morris emeritus professor of history at Columbia University, where he had taught since 1959.
Professor Garraty was perhaps best known as the general editor of American National Biography, whose 23,040 pages chronicle the lives of 17,450 people who shaped the United States in ways large and small, from Alexander A. Aarons (1890-1943), a theatrical producer, to Vladimir Kosma Zworykin (1889-1982), a “scientist and television pioneer.”
Alonzo Hamby: John A. Garraty: A Great Life in Brief
SOURCE: Japan Focus (12-21-07)
Michael Penn: I'd like to begin by asking you how it is that you became interested in studying prewar and wartime Japanese scholarship on the Islamic world as well as the broader topic of anti-Westernism in Asia.
Cemil Aydin: In my graduate school education, I was initially interested in doing a global-comparative history of Ottoman and Japanese modernization. Like all Ph.D. students, my choice of a research topic emerged out of intensive readings for the Ph.D. examinations, conversations with professors and historiographical controversies. Well, after taking several classes with Akira Iriye, John Dower, Albert Craig, Herbert Bix and Andrew Gordon, I did have a general sense of the field. It was during this process, while reading Prof. Selcuk Esenbel's first articles on Abdurresid Ibrahim and Japan's links with Muslim Pan-Asianists, and an article by Harry Harootunian on the "Japanese Revolt against the West," that I first encountered Okawa Shumei's writings on the Muslim world. I remember being puzzled by the fact that one of Japan's leading Pan-Asianists was also the founder of Islamic Studies in that country. This exciting reading process coincided with the controversies on Pan-Asianism and historical memory provoked by a Japanese revisionist movie on Tojo Hideki and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal called Pride. In the end, I decided to write a thesis on Okawa Shumei's Pan-Asianism, which allowed me to discuss two controversial issues, namely the roots of anti-Westernism and the complex relationship between Pan-Asianism and imperialism.
I completed my thesis just a year after September 11 while there was much scholarly and non-scholarly interest in the questions of anti-Westernism. As someone who worked on Japanese critiques of the West, I became very concerned about a particular view, highly influential in American foreign policy, which explained Muslim critiques of the West as an eternal conflict between Islam and Christendom. According to this theory of "What Went Wrong," Muslims were unique in their discontent with the international order and Western powers because they could simply not accept seeing Christians being more powerful and prosperous than themselves. Of course, you can imagine the policy implications of such an analysis. Students of Japan know well that rejection of the Western hegemony or modernity was a powerful theme in Japanese intellectual history, even though Japan had nothing to do with the Islamic tradition. Through comparison of anti-Western ideas of Pan-Asianism in Japan and Pan-Islamism in the Middle East, I tried to show that anti-Westernism is a complex, yet modern, phenomenon that is neither a religious conservative reaction to Western universalism nor a natural response to imperialism.
Michael Penn: Can you give us a general idea of how significant Japan's wartime scholarship on Islam really was? Broadly speaking, why does it deserve our attention today?
Cemil Aydin: To start with, there was an impressive boom of scholarship on the Muslim world in wartime Japan, which is not well-known today. More importantly, this scholarship was surprisingly sympathetic to Muslim societies, at times displaying identification between Japanese and Muslims as fellow Asians and Easterners with shared problems.
Understanding the characteristics and achievements of this scholarship is important in several ways: It gives us a unique perspective on the relationship between empires and knowledge if we compare Japanese scholarship with European scholarship on the Muslim world. Wartime-era Japanese scholars of Islam were not free from imperial projects and interests, and their work was framed by broader imperial needs and discourses. Yet, even when we recognize the complicity of area studies scholarship with imperial interests, there is another question: Did the fact that Japan was a non-white and non-Christian empire make any difference in Japanese Orientalist scholarship on the Muslim world? Looking at books and magazines published by Japanese scholars from 1937 to 1945, I realized that there are significant differences in comparison with Western Orientalism: a Pan-Asian discourse of civilization was shaping a stronger interest in modern Muslim nationalism against Western colonialism, and in some ways, Japanese scholars were more successful in their predictions and analysis of contemporary Muslim modernism. For example, while European scholars saw modernizing reforms in Turkey during the 1920s as a betrayal of Islam, Japanese scholars perceived them as necessary steps for the revival of the Muslim world -- something similar to what the Meiji reforms did for Japan. Moreover, Japanese scholars of Islam had a clear agenda of overcoming Eurocentric biases and prejudices about Islam in their writings. In fact, in the heyday of Japanese imperial culture, they developed an almost internationalist vision of introducing the Japanese public to the unfamiliar world of Islam. Some were very critical of the Japanese public's ignorance of Islam at a time when they were claiming to be the leader or elder brother of Asia.
Michael Penn: How would you assess the wartime Japanese scholarship in comparison with Japanese scholarship on the Islamic world today?
Cemil Aydin: There is, of course, a certain rupture, or a conscious break between the postwar and prewar scholarly interests on the Muslim world. For example, Professor Itagaki Yuzo, one of the leading names of postwar scholarship, is a very different person than Okawa Shumei. Many of the new scholars of Islam either had graduate training in America, or have been to Muslim countries for their education. This was not true for prewar scholars of Islam. The community of Islam scholars in Japan, at least in major universities, is a diverse group of people with a strong tradition of self-reflection about their discipline, especially in relation to Orientalism.
Nevertheless, I can think of one aspect of continuity from prewar scholarship to contemporary discourses on the Muslim world -- an implicit legacy of a kind of Pan-Asian identity. As a result, both the left and right in Japan (whatever these political ideologies entail in the Japanese context) are generally sympathetic to modern Muslim thought. This is a big contrast to Europe and America where scholars on the right see Muslim nationalism and Islamic movements as an enemy of the West. There is a staunchly anti-Muslim right wing or Christian fundamentalist rhetoric in America, and a small minority group of scholars feed them with academic analysis. No matter what intellectuals think of Japanese ignorance of the Islamic world, I cannot think of such a hostile rhetoric existing in Japan.
Michael Penn: In your article, you argue that the wartime scholarship surpassed what might be expected by research institutes whose funding and establishment relied deeply on military and colonial interests. Can you explain this?
Cemil Aydin: This is perhaps similar to contemporary America. A lot of Islamic studies research is funded and underwritten by governmental interest in the Islamic world. It is almost impossible to escape the framework of American imperial involvement as the indirect motivation behind these funding organizations. For example, the Carnegie Foundation in New York has a major initiative where every year they pick almost twenty scholars of Islam and support their research for two years. Does that mean that every scholar working in America today is serving the American empire in the Middle East? The fact that neo-con supporters of Bush policies blame the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) for being extreme leftist, anti-American, pro-Arab and pro-Muslim indicates that knowledge production and empire processes are not that simple. This also does not mean that progressive members of Middle East or Islamic studies scholarship in America are free from the needs and interests of an American hegemony in the Middle East, even when American scholars of Islam are overall very critical of American foreign policy in the Middle East.
The situation of Japanese scholars on Islam was similarly complex. There clearly were some left-inclining or liberal scholars among Japanese scholars working in Islamic studies from 1937 to 1945. After all, Takeuchi Yoshimi, a leading left voice in postwar Japan, was also a young scholar of Islam during that time. Hence, academically sophisticated members of the Islamic studies community mostly did what they were already doing in terms of their research and publication. One can still read them today with interest and learn something from that work. There were also many articles and pamphlets, mostly motivated by a short term imperial agenda, that do not seem to have much value today.
Michael Penn: You note that Okawa Shumei at one point identified Islam as more part of "Western civilization" than "Eastern civilization," but then seemed to backtrack and not follow through on his own insight. Why did Japanese scholars seem to have such difficulty deciding whether Islam was "East" or "West"?
Cemil Aydin: Okawa Shumei's writings provide good examples of the contradictions between serious scholarly thinking on the role of Muslim societies in world history, and dominant Pan-Asianist views. According to the dominant Pan-Asianist perception of the world, the Muslim world was mainly in Asia, although it had parts beyond Asia. One should be aware of the fact that Europe, the West, the Islamic World, Asia were all geopolitical terms, assumed to be in competitive power relations, and their reality was rarely questioned, even by non-Asianists. We do know that different branches of European Orientalism gave these geographical imaginations an historical and cultural content. More importantly, most of the Realist international relations or world politics literature also took these entities as basic units of analysis and prescription. For example, a book by an American white supremacist and Harvard Ph.D. in international history, Lothrop Stoddard, titled The World of Islam, became well read in its Arabic and Ottoman translations. It is primarily about the Islam-West relationship in world politics at the end of World War I. Stoddard's book was one among hundreds of books in the first quarter of the twentieth century that conceptualized a domain of Islamic World as a reality, despite the stark diversity and disconnectedness in this imagined unity. Okawa Shumei read and used that book in his research as well. Pan-Asianism relied on this geopolitical thinking.
On the other hand, Orientalist literature produced enough knowledge on history, literature and religion to challenge these basic assumptions. Japanese scholars of Islam could actually read the products of European Orientalism to challenge the basic premises of Orientalism. Okawa was instrumental in establishing one of the best library collections on Islam and the Muslim world during the 1930s, especially by buying all the published materials in these fields in European languages. He was himself a good researcher, and in his book published in 1942 he does note that categorizing Islam as an Eastern, non-Hellenistic civilization, as the Other of the West, is a fallacy, because in many ways, Islam is a Western religion, much closer to European civilization than to Far Eastern civilizaation. He notes this with some delight, because challenging the Eurocentric prejudices of Islam in European writings was one of the main agendas of Japanese scholarship.
Okawa does not address the paradox that, in one place, he talks about Muslims as fellow Asians, with whom Japan must have solidarity against the West, and in another place he emphasizes that Islam is a Western religion, closer to Christianity than to Buddhism. For him and many others of his generation, the geopolitical meanings of the Islamic World, Asia and Europe were a reality not to be challenged by fine historical and scholarly insights into world history and comparative religions.
Michael Penn: I presume that the Japanese military authorities briefly became interested in Islam because they viewed it as a sort of anti-Western warrior religion that they could utilize to challenge British power and for other purposes in China?
Cemil Aydin: They indeed had such beliefs and at some point they devised fantasy-driven policies based on the assumptions that Muslims were very anti-Western and always sympathetic to Japan -- and one should not forget that some of these images of Muslims being violent and anti-Western were coming from Europeans. Professor Selcuk Esenbel has written in detail about the Japanese military's "Islam policy" in her American Historical Review article a couple of years ago. As she also noted, it was not unique to the Japanese Empire that they were planning to use a geopolitical entity, religion or ethnic group against other rival empires. Actually, both the German Empire and later Italian Empire had plans to use so called "Muslim rage against the West" for their own purposes, and thus became interested in Pan-Islamism. The policy impact of these stereotypes about Muslims is still worth investigating. During the revolutionary acts of violence against British rule in India around 1907, for example, Orientalist-ethnologists at the German foreign ministry assumed and argued that this was the Muslim revolt and rage, although actual violent acts were being committed mostly by Hindu nationalists. Somehow, violent Hindu revolutionaries did not fit into German notions of the Orient.
Japanese military authorities were aware of what other empires were doing, and in one Islam policy pamphlet they did note the history of "Islam policy" by the German and Italian Empires. But then, they argued that Japan would be more successful in gaining Muslim support because it had no negative history in the Muslim world, and Muslims had sympathized with Japan since the Russo-Japanese War. In reality, Japanese efforts to gain the support of Chinese Muslims against Chinese nationalism did not produce any results. Indeed, there was significant support among Chinese Muslims for both the nationalists and the Communists in China against Japanese imperialism. More importantly, there was no single Muslim world to warrant such an Islam policy.
There was also a more anti-colonial "liberation" discourse in Japanese policies on Islam, one that emphasized Japan's mission to liberate Asia, including subjugated Muslims. This is again a highly common imperial strategy, Think about how many times Muslims were liberated by the Western Empires such as Britain, France and America: Saving Arab Muslims from the Turkish oppression, liberating Muslim women from the domination of fundamentalist men, or minorities from majority Sunni yoke, and even bringing secularism to save moderate Muslims from theocratic rule. Somehow, being an anti-imperialist empire was not a peculiarity of Japan. All empires played the game of emancipation.
Michael Penn: It's ironic that today the negative image of Islam in Japan is chiefly associated with its perceived connections with violence and terrorism while in the late 1930s, the anti-Western struggle of some Muslims was regarded by many Japanese as the most attractive feature of the West Asian region. This seems to tell us more about Japan than Islam, wouldn't you say?
Cemil Aydin: You are right. Violence and terrorism can have positive meanings when they are seen as a temporary means for a noble goal. Hence, "jihad" against colonialism—Western colonialism—did not seem bad for Japanese observers. At one point, liberal members of the Islamic studies community, such as Okubo Koji, described Japan's Greater East Asia as a Holy War (sometimes translated as "jihad") against unjust European hegemony in Asia.
It is interesting that Japanese scholars often emphasized that seeing Islam as a "religion of jihad" is a product of European Orientalist biases, and that the Japanese should see Islam as a religion of love given the strength of the Sufi tradition within Islam. In fact, Okawa Shumei corrected himself in this regard. In his earlier writings, Okawa, like Kita Ikki, referred to the principle of "Koran ka, ken ka" (Either the Quran or the Sword) as a common pattern of the spread of Islam. You either accept Islam or you face the military might of the Muslims. In fact, Kita Ikki saw this as a good thing. However, in his later scholarly writings, Okawa emphasized that Islam actually spread peacefully through merchants and scholars, not through military conquest, and the Japanese phrase "Koran Ka, ken ka" was a sheer internalization of Christian polemics against Islam.
In his postwar reflection on his Islamic Studies days, Takeuchi Yoshimi makes a very wise comment on this. He says that Islam, like Christianity, can neither be a religion of the sword nor a religion of love. Yet, Japanese scholars felt the need to emphasize the love aspect against European Orientalist discourses.
Michael Penn: At the end of the Pacific War, the Japanese scholarship on Islam quickly disappeared from public consciousness and most of the scholars moved on to other subjects. Why did Islamic studies in Japan collapse so completely in the 1950s and 1960s?
Cemil Aydin: Once the Japanese Empire ended, most of the infrastructure for Islamic studies scholarship was lost. Who would care about area studies in a time when the Japanese nation was stripped of its empire and facing the challenge of recovery and rebuilding. It was also practically impossible to revive anything during the 1950s. For example, the biggest Islamic Studies library in Tokyo burned down during the aerial bombing. Some other books were taken to the US during the occupation and never returned. There was also a new mood of "Leaving Asia" and "Joining the West" among Japanese intellectuals. In fact, Takeuchi Yoshimi noted the negative results of this loss. While being critical of the imperial complicities of prewar Islam scholarship, Takeuchi underlined the fact that this scholarship had also made positive contributions such as introducing an unfamiliar world civilization to Japan, contributing to an understanding of world history and globalization beyond Eurocentric narratives, and a necessary sympathy for Third World nationalisms.
Some members of the prewar Islamic Studies establishment continued doing research. The most famous of them was Izutsu Toshihiko, who was still young at the end of the war, became a well-known international authority on the Quran and Sufism. The very fact that the Islamic Studies community in Japan has grown rapidly since the 1970s, after Japan became a great economic power, is also highly interesting, and must have something to do with the earlier efforts.
Michael Penn: I have just finished reading your excellent book on anti-Westernism. It seems that in many ways, the "global moment" of the Russo-Japanese War can be seen as the highpoint of genuine affection between Japan and the Islamic world. Why did that moment pass so quickly? Today, it is almost completely forgotten.
Cemil Aydin: The 1905 Japanese victory became a turning point in the history of decolonization beyond the Japanese Empire's intentions and actions. After all, 1905 was a war between two Empires (Russia and Japan) through the involvement of a third empire, the British. But the turn of the 20th century imperial world order was so closely linked to the legitimacy of race ideologies and notions of White-Christian superiority that Japan's victory shattered these legitimacy discourses. After 1905, all major anti-colonial nationalists, whether in the Muslim world or beyond, could use the Japanese example in their arguments and mobilization efforts. Admiration for Japan was related to intellectual contestation over rising nationalism throughout Asia. The global moment of the Russo-Japanese War lasted about a decade while anti-colonial nationalism was utilizing a Pan-Asian discourse. During this decade, the Japanese Empire did not support any anti-colonial national movement, nor did it have to. In fact, Japanese authorities expelled some of the Vietnamese students and Indian nationalists who came to Japan to learn from them. After World War I, due to the Bolshevik Revolution and Wilsonian ideals, Japan's role as a metaphor in anti-colonial thought decreased. Thus, during the late 1930s, when Japanese propaganda referred back to 1905 as a moment of their leadership in Asia, they no longer had a broad audience. It may be forgotten now, but before World War II, the Japanese education system taught all Japanese children about the admiration of Turks, Arabs or Indians for their nation. That became a somewhat unhealthy, narcissist reference.
Michael Penn: One final question, a hot potato. Your book suggests that anti-Westernism before 1945 was not really a conservative reaction or a retreat into some kind of primordial identity, but rather a reflection of the crisis of legitimacy affecting the European-based international order as a whole. In 2007, should we view the global spread of anti-Americanism in a similar way? In other words, is the loss of legitimacy of the American-dominated international order the primary factor that gives rise to anti-Americanism today?
Cemil Aydin: I think this parallel exists, though a lot has changed from the late 19th to the late 20th century. The basic argument of anti-Americanism today -- that American imperialism is violating the universal values that the imagined and highly-stereotyped West proclaims -- is similar to the colonial era anti-Westernism that posited that European imperialism contradicted all the Enlightenment ideals the West was preaching to the rest of the world. In other words, in both cases, anti-Westernism and anti-Americanism, there are claims of unequal and unjust power relations in an unstable world. I should also note that the anti-Westernism of the last century has complex intellectual lineages, relying on the critiques of modernity in the West, and an authentic civilization discourse formulated to challenge the European discourse of racial and religious superiority. Today's anti-Americanism has roots in Cold War-era European thought. Yet, the legitimacy crisis of a single global international order is still the main reason behind the current anti-Americanism.
Cemil Aydin was recently profiled by History News Network as a "Top Young Historian."
Cemil Aydin is the author of The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought , Columbia University, New York, 2007. Recent publications include "Beyond Eurocentrism? Japan's Islamic Studies during the Era of the Greater East Asia War (1937-1945)," in Renee Worringer, ed., Princeton Papers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume XIV: The Islamic Middle East and Japan: Perceptions, Aspirations, and the Birth of Intra-Asian Modernity, January 2007.
Michael Penn is Executive Director of the Shingetsu Institute for the Study of Japanese-Islamic Relations and a Japan Focus Associate.
This is a slightly abbreviated version of an interview conducted by Michael Penn for the Shingetsu Newsletter published by the Shingetsu Institute for the Study of Japanese-Islamic Relations
SOURCE: Sterling Fluharty at his blog (12-21-07)
Have you ever wondered about the pecking order when it comes to university presses? What counts as a best seller for university presses? These questions have crossed my mind, but I have never seen a study that answers them. The fact that sales data for books is unusually difficult to obtain hasn't made it any easier to analyze these kinds of patterns and trends. Today I had an idea for figuring this stuff out.
I first went to the Worldcat database. When I did my searching there, I used the word"history" in the subject field and the word"university" in the publisher field. The cast a fairly wide net and yielded about three times as many books as reported in the history category by Bookwire, but since it was the best measure I could come up with I stuck with it. I limited my search to the last half decade, from 2002 to 2006. I also used five hundred libraries as an easy measuring point. Some history books are sold to just a few libraries in WorldCat, while every once in a while an academic history book is sold to 2,500 or more libraries.
Here is a quick summary of what I found in WorldCat:
- Half of all the academic history books that are sold to any number of libraries are published by just eight university presses: Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, California, Chicago, Columbia, and Princeton.
- A little less than six percent of history books published by university presses are sold to five hundred or more libraries.
- Half of all the academic history books that are sold to five hundred or more libraries are published by just five university presses: Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, Harvard, and Princeton.
- When it comes to which university presses sell the highest proportion of their academic history books to five hundred or more libraries, a very different ranking emerges:
I was kind of surprised that Oxford and Cambridge fell to the bottom half of the above table when I sorted it by percentage. They have an incredibly high number of history books that are purchased by five hundred or more libraries, but the rest of their history books may not receive the same kind of marketing and promotion. This data suggests to me that medium-sized university presses may be better able to sell a higher proportion of their history titles since they can give books more personalized attention. I was also impressed when I saw that one out of every five history books published by the University Press of Kansas gets sold to five hundred or more libraries. Maybe this is a consequence of their political history series. This data also has me wondering how low we should set the bar for best-sellers in our field. Is being purchased by five hundred libraries (as measured by WorldCat) enough to qualify? What do the rest of you think of this data?
SOURCE: WaPo (12-28-07)
In that time, W. Richard West Jr. was away from Washington traveling for 576 days on trips that included speaking engagements, fundraising and work for other nonprofit groups, according to a review of travel vouchers for West's trips obtained by The Washington Post.
West's travel often took him far from American Indian culture: Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand; Athens; Bali, Indonesia; Sydney and Brisbane; London; Singapore; Florence, Rome and Venice; Paris; Gothenburg, Sweden; Seville, Spain; Seoul; Vienna; and Zagreb, Croatia.
SOURCE: Michael Isikoff in Newsweek (12-24-07)
Now, Leonard is quitting as director of the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO)—the unit that monitors the handling of government secrets. He tells NEWSWEEK that his fight with Cheney's office was a "contributing" factor in his decision to retire after 34 years of government service.
Leonard-described by National Archivist Allen Weinstein as "the gold standard of information specialists in the federal government"-spoke to NEWSWEEK's Michael Isikoff. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Explain how all this happened.
Leonard: Up until 2002, OVP was just like any other agency. Subsequent to that, they stopped reporting to us…At first, I took that to be, 'we're too busy.' Then we routinely attempted to do a review of the OVP and it was at that point in time it was articulated back to me that: 'well they weren't really subject to our reviews.' I didn't agree with it. But you know, there is a big fence around the White House. I didn't know how I could get in there if somebody didn't want me to.
So how did matters escalate?
The challenge arose last year when the Chicago Tribune was looking at [ISOO's annual report] and saw the asterisk [reporting that it contained no information from OVP] and decided to follow up. And that's when the spokesperson from the OVP made public this idea that because they have both legislative and executive functions, that requirement doesn't apply to them.…They were saying the basic rules didn't apply to them. I thought that was a rather remarkable position. So I wrote my letter to the Attorney General [asking for a ruling that Cheney's office had to comply.] Then it was shortly after that there were [email] recommendations [from OVP to a National Security Council task force] to change the executive order that would effectively abolish [my] office.
Who wrote the emails?
It was David Addington.
No explanation was offered?
No. It was strike this, strike that. Anyplace you saw the words, "the director of ISOO" or "ISOO" it was struck. ...
SOURCE: Press Release: Duke (12-4-07)
His 1982 book The Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America (co-written with Herbert Klein) was a an elaborate study of the economy and society of the region.
He is survived by his wife, Neomi; daughters, Susan TePaske-King and Marianna Daly; and brother, Robert TePaske.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
SOURCE: Press Release: Duke (12-4-07)
The Department of History issued the following statements Tuesday:
“Warren Lerner was a distinguished scholar, a superb teacher, and a dedicated leader of the Duke history department, which he served as chair from 1985-1990. Lerner’s scholarship on the communist revolution was widely recognized. His undergraduate courses at Duke were legendary, attracting hundreds of students drawn to hear Lerner’s compelling lectures and bask in the warmth and humor of his personality. As leader of the department, he was always pushing for greater recognition of the quality of his faculty, often ‘dropping in’ at the dean’s office at the end of the day to promote the department’s agenda. (Allegedly, this led to the creation of an informal prize in the dean’s office for the best “Warren Lerner drop-by.”) Appreciated by students, university colleagues and departmental associates, Warren Lerner helped to make the Duke history department a leader. He will be sorely missed.
SOURCE: Cuba News (12-21-07)
The prize, granted annually for the rehabilitation and restoration of historic centers, was a unanimous decision of the jury which, Leal said, was motivated by the social undertaking in the revitalization of the Cuban capital's historical center known as Old Havana.
In the historian's words, "the award is actually a tribute to the people of Old Havana and the entire city of Havana, who have undertaken the restoration works in a social effort that, while not being perfect, expresses the best of our society."
SOURCE: Deborah Lipstadt at her blog (12-21-07)
The N.Y. Appeals Court has ruled in the Ehrenfeld case. There are many disturbing aspects to this case, as my colleague Michael Broyde and I wrote in our New York Times oped.
[Some background: In her book Ehrenfeld charged Saudi billionaire Mahfouz with funding terrorism. She did not publish the book in the UK. Nonetheless, Mahfouz's lawyers bought the book over Amazon UK and then went to the UK court and sued her for libel. The case coined the term"Libel Tourism." She did not contest the Saudi billionaire's charges against her and therefore lost by default. ]
She tried to counter sue Mahfouz in the United States. She argued that, the fact that Mahfouz might try to collect what he won in the UK judgment against her, gave the N.Y. court jurisdiction and it should prevent that from happening.
The N.Y. Appeals Court ruled that New York courts have no jurisdiction to hear her counter suit because he has not yet tried to collect the funds awarded him by the UK court.
Ehrenfeld's lawyers had argued that just the threat that Mahfouz would try to collect the money gave American courts jurisdiction.
What the N.Y. court said was that she can't sue now. The court seems to be saying that, should, however, Mahfouz come banging on her door to collect the money, she can then go to the N.Y. court and ask them to hear the case.
Since the ruling was announced yesterday I have received a number of despondent emails. They have expressed the sentiment that this is an awful defeat for Ehrenfeld, as well as all others who would expose Saudi funding of terrorism and try to expose extremism.
I too wish the ruling had gone otherwise but lawyers had warned me that the court would probably rule this way.
Part of the problem is that Ehrenfeld, by choosing not to contest Mahfouz's assault on her in the UK court, has a judgment against her.
I am convinced -- I may be wrong -- that Mahfouz won't come after Ehrenfeld for the money. To do so he might look like a vicious man trying to strip an American researcher and writer of her livelihood. Moreover, if she then goes to the American courts and counter sues, he might lose.
However, if he leaves things as they are now it is a win/win for him.
* He won by default in the UK court
* He has a judgment against Ehrenfeld [even though she never published in the UK]
* He leaves her hanging, not knowing if he is coming to collect"his" money while he avoids looking like an ogre.
* Above all, he avoids the risk that she will counter sue and win in an American court.
I know that Ehrenfeld did not contest these charges in the UK on principle. [It is absurd that a book that was not published in the UK can be the cause of a libel suit there.] However, because of the nature of UK libel laws, it let Mahfouz have his win [even if by default]
This made him the winner. And that is how he will probably choose to remain.
SOURCE: http://www.thejc.com (12-12-07)
Under Spanish law, justifying genocide or inciting racism and xenophobia can carry a sentence of up to three years. Police were authorised by a judge to examine Irving’s words to see if he had broken the law in his speech at a bookshop last Saturday.
According to agency reports, he told his audience of about 20 that there was no proof that Hitler was aware of the Holocaust. But, he said, there was no doubt that the Nazis killed “two or three million” Jews.
During his speech, about 100 people protested outside the bookshop which was guarded by police.
Dahliah Levinsohn, secretary of the Federation of Jewish communities in Spain, said: “The Federation asked the High Court to cancel Irving’s talk, as we thought there could be acts of incitement to racism and antisemitism.
“Although it [the court] did not cancel the conference, Catalan police were present and the court issued them with an official order to enter and record the talk.
“He [Irving] was very careful not to negate the Holocaust, precisely because the Catalan police were there. Now the police will analyse the talk and see if something comes up.” In 2006 Irving was sentenced by an Austrian court to three years in prison for Holocaust denial but was released after serving one-third of his sentence.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (12-21-07)
In a 32-page decision, Judge Paul A. Crotty notes that numerous court rulings give the government considerable leeway in deciding whom to admit to the United States, and make it extremely difficult to challenge those decisions in court. Once the government shows a “facially legitimate” reason to deny a visa, the case is over, Crotty writes, and that’s how he views the Ramadan suit.
“Once the consular official has made this decision,” writes the judge, “it is not the court’s role ... to second guess the result.”
SOURCE: http://www.newsroom.ucr.edu (12-20-07)
“Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil and the Presidency” will first air Wednesday, Jan. 2 on PBS at 9 p.m. (Check local listings for other air dates.) The program, narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Martin Sheen, brings to life one of the most divisive presidents in our history. It features re-enactments, lithographs, letters and the insights of distinguished scholars, including Allgor, who is the author of “Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington City Help Build a City and a Government” as well as a biography of Dolley Madison.
Professor Allgor flew to Nashville in March for her interview. "I've seen a preview and they did an excellent job explaining why he was so popular and so reviled at the same time," Allgor said. "And he is still a problem for modern Americans. On one hand, he ushered in an age of political democracy; on the other, he did nothing to stop slavery and presided over one of America's great tragedies--the Trail of Tears."
The first president with a nickname, "Old Hickory" was born in a log cabin and rose to serve eight years in the White House. Jackson had strong opinions and equally strong opposition. He was the first president to open the doors of the White House to blue-collar Americans, and he shook up the world of Washington, DC, with his "common-man" methods and ideals, but also oversaw one of the most controversial events in American history: the forced removal of Indian tribes, including the Cherokees, from their homes.
"Is he a president we should celebrate or a president we should apologize for?” asked Carl Byker, the film's producer, writer and co-director. "But of all the presidents whom Americans have had conflicting feelings about, the one who's been simultaneously adored and reviled with the most intensity is Andrew Jackson."
This presidential biography includes insights from other distinguished scholars, including lead advisor Dan Feller, professor of history and editor/director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson, University of Tennessee; Kathryn Braund, professor at Auburn University; Daniel Walker Howe, professor emeritus at UCLA Department of History; John Larson, professor of history at Purdue University; and Benny Smith, oral historian, Cherokee Nation, and many others.
The documentary will include a DVD-ROM created especially for educators and a comprehensive Web site that includes in-depth information about the history of Andrew Jackson. The Web site, available in early January on pbs.org, will chronicle Jackson's life, from his early years as an ambitious young officer in the war of 1812 to his hard-fought rise to become the seventh president of the United States. The site also will feature profiles of prominent individuals of the Jacksonian era, maps, image galleries and an interactive timeline.
Funding for the documentary came from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ahmanson Foundation, Public Television Viewers, PBS and Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
SOURCE: http://www.dw-world.de/ (12-19-07)
DW-WORLD.DE: Are you surprised that an academic book on Prussia could make the German bestseller lists?
Christopher Clark: I certainly didn't expect success on that level. I think it's a case of timing. The fall of the Berlin Wall and German re-unification have triggered a process of re-imagining the German past in general and Prussia in particular. So much of what was left of the old Prussian state was in former Communist East Germany, so it was kind of locked away. With the re-unification of Germany, it all became visible and got reconnected to the larger German national entity. That and the opening up of archives of the former East Germany prompted a rethink.
DW-WORLD.DE: Let's try to sum up your thesis. Prussia was a relatively enlightened, progressive state that inadvertently destroyed itself when it enlisted the force of German nationalism. Is that close?
Christopher Clark: That's exactly it. Nationalism was Prussia's downfall. In older historical literature, nationalism was seen as the culmination of Prussian history. Prussia's task in history had been to create the German nation. Just as we today tend to see the rise of the Third Reich in 1933 as the end of an era and explain how Germany got to that point, previous generations tried to explain how German history had got to 1871 and the creation of the German Empire. And the answer was that Prussia was the steering, shaping and sometimes manipulative power that would bring the German nation into existence. The emergence of the German nation is the thing that gives meaning to the whole history of Prussia.
That, in my view, is completely and utterly wrong. Throughout its history Prussia had been the most un-national state you can imagine, partly because it contained such large numbers of non-Germans, but also because the whole idea of its existence was that of the sovereign, monarchical state, interwoven with the idea of the sovereignty of law.
These were ideas that had nothing to do with the uprising of a national movement. Prussia responded very hostilely to early German nationalism because the Hohenzollern rulers rightly recognized that it would act like a kind of corrosive acid eating away at everything the Prussian state stood for.
It was only during the unstable period of the 1850s, 60s and 70s that Prussian statesmen, particularly Prussian Prime Minister and German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, began to imagine that they could tame nationalism. But that was something they failed to do....
SOURCE: http://www.southeasttexaslive.com (12-18-07)
W.T. Block, dubbed by a colleague "the dean of Southeast Texas history," died Saturday. He was 87.
Block dedicated his life to researching and recording the region's history, said Robert Schaadt, director/archivist of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty.
"Mr. Block, he wrote more Southeast Texas history than anybody, beginning to end," Schaadt said. "His record will probably never be surpassed."
Author of many books, some published and some not, Block will long be remembered for three in particular, Schaadt said: "A History of Jefferson County, Texas From Wilderness to Reconstruction," "East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns" and "Sour Lake, Texas: From Mud Baths to Millionaires."
SOURCE: Andrew G. Bostom at FrontpageMag.com (12-19-07)
Speaking at a December 10-11, 2007 Rome Conference entitled, “Fighting for Democracy in the Islamic World,” renowned historian Bernard Lewis intoned,
The authoritarianism present in the Middle East region is not part of the Arab and Muslim tradition, but it has been imported from Europe.
Lewis, according to the account of his lecture in Adnkronos International, then offered as putatively convincing support for his thesis the non-sequitur observation that during the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan (presumably, in the course of making decisions) consulted all the dignitaries, and when he ascended the throne he would greet the crowds, uttering “Allah is greater than you are.”
This ahistorical contention, accompanied by an equally vacuous example of Ottoman era “proof,” seems like a desynchronized “Spy Versus Spy” Mad Magazine segment with Lewis playing the role of both “Department of Joke and Dagger” agents, simultaneously, when juxtaposed to Lewis’ own entry on hurriyya—Arabic for freedom—which appears in the venerable Encyclopedia of Islam.
Hurriyya and the uniquely Western concept of freedom are completely at odds. Hurriyya “freedom” — as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized “Greatest Sufi Master”, expressed it — “being perfect slavery.” And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis’ perhaps metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and his human “slaves.”
The late American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003), who wrote the first part of the Encyclopedia of Islam entry on hurriyya, analyzed its larger context in Muslim society. He notes the historical absence of hurriyya as “...a fundamental political concept that could have served as a rallying cry for great causes.”
An individual Muslim, “...was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper course of behavior...”
Thus politically, Rosenthal concludes,
"...the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed...In general, ...governmental authority admitted of no participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real freedom vis a vis it."
Lewis (in his complementary Encyclopedia of Islam entry on hurriyya) discusses this concept during the Ottoman Empire, specifically, through the contemporary era. After highlighting a few “cautious” or “conservative” (Lewis' characterization) reformers and their writings, Lewis maintains,
"...there is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in the formation or conduct of government—to political freedom, or citizenship, in the sense which underlies the development of political thought in the West. While conservative reformers talked of freedom under law, and some Muslim rulers even experimented with councils and assemblies government was in fact becoming more and not less arbitrary...."
Lewis also emphasizes, in sharp contrast to his Rome statement, that Western colonialism ameliorated this chronic situation, and he concludes with a stunningly contradictory observation:
"During the period of British and French domination, individual freedom was never much of an issue. Though often limited and sometimes suspended, it was on the whole more extensive and better protected than either before or after."
In the final revulsion against the West, Western democracy too was rejected as a fraud and a delusion, of no value to Muslims....
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) (12-19-07)
Amnesty International is campaigning for two human rights activists in Haiti: Wilson Mesilien, who received death threats in late November, and Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, who was kidnapped last August. Both are coordinators of the 30 September Foundation and probably targeted because they pressed for an end to impunity for past abuses and reparation for victims of the 1991-94 military regime and for the victims of the transitional government of 2004-6. I hope that you can send the recommended urgent appeals immediately. Please remember to write in your professional capacity. Thank you.
With best wishes,
Antoon De Baets
(Network of Concerned Historians)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION
18 December 2007
UA 336/07: Fear for safety / Possible “disappearance”
Wilson Mesilien (m), aged 39, human rights activist, interim coordinator of the Fondasyon Trant Septanm (30 September Foundation),
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine (m), aged 54, political and human rights activist, former coordinator of the Fondasyon Trant Septanm
The life of Wilson Mesilien, the interim coordinator of Fondasyon Trant Septanm (30 September Foundation), may be at risk due to his continued work in defending the rights of the victims of the 1991-1994 military coup. Amnesty International is even more concerned for his safety as the former coordinator of the Fondasyon, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, was kidnapped on 12 August and his whereabouts are still unknown.
Over the last few weeks, Wilson Mesilien has been receiving threatening telephone calls. Early in the afternoon of 26 November, two unknown individuals tried to intercept him as he rode his motorcycle in Boul. des Industries, North of Port-au-Prince. Wilson Mesilien was on his way home after attending an appeal court hearing for Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a former prisoner of conscience who is still facing criminal charges.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine has not been seen since 12 August, after he had left the company of a delegation of human rights activists visiting Haiti. The car he was driving was found abandoned near the neighborhood Delmas 18. Days before his abduction, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine had announced his intention to stand as Senator in the elections initially scheduled for December 2007 under the banner of the Fanmi Lavalas Party. There are fears that he may have been abducted by people connected with the former military because of his continued activism in denouncing past human rights violations during the 1991-1994 military government and in gathering signatures to amend the Constitution in order to eliminate all provisions for the existence of a Haitian army.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine’s abduction was reportedly made to look like a kidnapping for ransom. His family were contacted by his alleged abductors on 14 August and asked to pay a ransom of US$ 300,000 for his release. However there has been no further contact from the abductors.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is a psychologist and has been involved for several years as a grass-roots community organizer, mainly working with children. During the last presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, he was appointed General Coordinator of the National Office on Migration. He left Haiti into exile during the transitional government and returned in February 2006.
Wilson Mesilien is one of the founding members of Fondasyon Trant Septanm along with Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. The Fondasyon was named after the date of the military coup, 30 September 1991 during which President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted. At least 3,000 persons were killed during the military regime between 1991 -1994. Ever since its creation in 1996, the Fondasyon members carry out weekly marches in central Port-au-Prince and several other Haitian towns to press for an end to impunity for past abuses and reparation for victims of the 1991-1994 military coup and for the victims of the transitional government of 2004-2006. The Fondasyon also campaigns for the total abolition of the Haitian army through a reform of the Constitution by gathering signatures during a tour of a photo-exhibition of victims of past human rights abuses.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
**expressing concern for the safety of Wilson Mesilien and of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine who has not been seen since 12 August;
**urging the authorities to double their efforts to locate Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine;
**calling for the authorities to ensure Wilson Mesilien’s protection in accordance with his wishes;
**calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the “disappearance” of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine and the threats received by Wilson Mesilien, to make the result public and to bring those responsible to justice;
**reminding the authorities that the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders and their right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals.
Minister of Justice and Public Security
**Monsieur Rene Magloire
**Ministre de la Justice et de la Securite Publique,
**19 Avenue Charles Sumner,
**Port-au-Prince, HAITI (W.I.)
**Fax: 011 509 245 0474
**(The fax may not be in service at all times, but please keep trying.)
**Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
General Director of the Haiti National Police
**Directeur General de la Police Nationale d’Haiti
**Grand Quartier General de la Police
**12 rue Oscar Pacot,
**Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
**Fax: 011 509 245 7374
**Salutation: Monsieur le Directeur General/Dear Mr Andresol
Human rights organization
**c/o Fondasyon Trant Septanm
**No. 3, 2eme impasse Lavaud , Boite Postale 19042
**Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Ambassador H.E. Raymond A. Joseph
**Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
**2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW
**Washington DC 20008
**Fax: 1 202 745 7215
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the Network of Concerned Historians if sending appeals after 29 January 2008.
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights. This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.
SOURCE: H-Diplo (12-15-07)
Published by H-Diplo on 15 December 2007
Complete Roundtable in one file, PDF format [PDF]
Best choice for reading/viewing/printing the entire roundtable. Viewable on a wide variety of operating systems, including many portable devices, with the free Adobe Reader software or Foxit Reader.
Individual Roundtable pieces in PDF format [PDF]:
Roundtable Editor's Introduction (Christopher L. Ball, H-Diplo)
Review by Andrew Preston, Cambridge University
Review by David Schoenbaum, The University of Iowa
Review by Tony Smith, Tufts University
SOURCE: Eric Alterman at his blog: Altercation (12-18-07)
As a presidential candidate, he's been an undeniable catastrophe. What I want to say about the film -- at least the parts that I've seen -- is that I made a big mistake when I allowed its makers to come to my apartment to interview me. They never told me they were Naderites and I -- stupidly -- did not realize that they had an ulterior motive in making the film. In my view, the movie is dishonest in two respects. In the first, when they interviewed me, they kept repeating the same silly points over and over again after I had already answered them. This had the effect of pissing me off, purposely, I'm guessing -- and getting me to look all angry and intemperate -- and gave them the footage they wanted (which is why they use it in the trailer). But that's my problem. The problem with the film -- and why I'm convinced it is largely a propaganda exercise for unrepentant Naderites who prefer a Bush presidency to a Gore one -- is that it only gives the illusion of listening to Nader's critics. Todd Gitlin and myself are given a sentence or two to make each of the many cases against Nader, and then some pro-Nader "expert" is offered an unlimited amount of time to brush us off. This happens over and over and is, as the saying goes, no accident. The point is not screen time, as the filmmakers dishonestly pretended when responding to me on HuffPo. It is intellectual honesty, and that is something that is sadly lacking in this film. Then again, how could it be otherwise with any Nader defender after we've seen seven years' fruit of their Leninist agenda?*
*After the film came out, Nader confused me by buying 1,200 copies of What Liberal Media? and distributing them to every student and faculty member of the Medill School of Journalism. He sent me a mimeographed note saying something like "What do you think of that, Eric?" I think the same thing I thought of the Iraq war, the destruction of the environment, legalized torture, domestic spying, the attack on the Constitution, on choice, on sex education, on science, etc. ... "Thanks, Ralph."
SOURCE: Press Release--U. of Wisconsin (12-18-07)
Workshop attendees will be introduced to this methodology and the new accompanying publication, "Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction." In addition, attendees will be among the first to review "Wisconsin: Our State, Our Story," the new fourth-grade textbook, co-authored by Bobbie Malone and Kori Oberle (in print spring 2008) from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Malone will be the key presenter at the workshop scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, at UW-Madison's Memorial Union. Workshop participants will receive a copy of the "Thinking Like a Historian" publication and will be able to preorder the forthcoming textbook.
The "Thinking Like a Historian" methodology incorporates both historical process and historical categories of inquiry that working historians use to interpret the past. Applicable at all K-12 grade levels, "Thinking Like a Historian" was developed and classroom tested through a Teaching American History partnership of the UW-Whitewater history department, the Wisconsin Historical Society and CESA 2. It empowers students to engage in history as investigation, rather than recapitulation of historical events.