History

70th Anniversary of Indian Independence and Partition

Today is the 70th anniversary of British India’s partition into two countries, India and Pakistan, and of its independence from the United Kingdom. On this occasion, we suggest scholarship that offers insight into these events and their lasting effects.

978-0-8223-2494-2India’s partition caused one of the most massive human convulsions in history. Within the space of two months in 1947 more than twelve million people were displaced. A million died. More than seventy-five thousand women were abducted and raped. Countless children disappeared. Homes, villages, communities, families, and relationships were destroyed. Yet, more than half a century later, little is known of the human dimensions of this event. In The Other Side of Silence, Urvashi Butalia fills this gap by placing people—their individual experiences, their private pain—at the center of this epochal event.

Through interviews conducted over a ten-year period and an examination of diaries, letters, memoirs, and parliamentary documents, Butalia asks how people on the margins of history—children, women, ordinary people, the lower castes, the untouchables—have been affected by this upheaval. To understand how and why certain events become shrouded in silence, she traces facets of her own poignant and partition-scarred family history before investigating the stories of other people and their experiences of the effects of this violent disruption. Those whom she interviews reveal that, at least in private, the voices of partition have not been stilled and the bitterness remains.

978-0-8223-6289-0In Of Gardens and Graves Suvir Kaul examines the disruption of everyday life in Kashmir in the years following the region’s pervasive militarization in 1990. He explores Kashmir’s pre- and post-Partition history, the effects of militarization, state repression, the suspension of civil rights on Kashmiris, and the challenge Kashmir represents to the practice of democracy in India. The volume also features translations of Kashmiri poetry written in these years of conflict, as well as a photo essay by Javed Dar, whose photographs work together with Kaul’s essays and the poems to represent the interweaving of ordinary life, civic strife, and spectacular violence in Kashmir.

978-0-8223-4411-7Combining film studies, trauma theory, and South Asian cultural history, Bhaskar Sarkar follows the shifting traces of partition in Indian cinema over the six decades that followed in Mourning the Nation. He argues that partition remains a wound in the collective psyche of South Asia and that its representation on screen enables forms of historical engagement that are largely opaque to standard historiography.

Borderland Lives in Northern South Asia, edited by David N. Gellner, provides valuable new ethnographic insights into life along some of the most contentious borders in the world. The collected essays portray existence at different points across India’s northern frontiers and, in one instance, along borders within India. Whether discussing Shi’i Muslims striving to be patriotic Indians in the Kashmiri district of Kargil or Bangladeshis living uneasily in an enclave surrounded by Indian territory, the contributors show that state borders in Northern South Asia are complex sites of contestation.

ddCSA_25_1Generations of Memory: Remembering Partition in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine” from Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East considers partition’s memory across the national borders and regional distances of South Asia and the Middle East. The first part of this article reflects on the meaning of “partition” in each population’s collective memory. The second part examines how the state-building project in India, Pakistan, and Israel, and the emerging Palestinian national-liberation project, shaped dominant versions of respective “first generation” partition narratives. The third part analyzes how these dominant historical narratives have been re-envisioned by scholars within the second, “hinge generation” of Indians.

Progressives and ‘Perverts’: Partition Stories and Pakistan’s Future” from Social Text explores short stories on partition by Sa’adat Hasan Manto. By concentrating on Manto’s writings, this essay revisits Pakistan’s early history to demonstrate how, after the country’s creation, there was continued debate among intellectuals about what would constitute a national culture. Within this context, these short stories by Manto enables the author of the essay to offer a critique of Pakistan’s normative national history and to suggest a different path to understand the country’s past and, possibly, to envision its future.

Commemorating a Century of Land and Water Reform

Thank you to Mikael Wolfe, author of Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico, for today’s guest post.

Mikael Wolfe

En español: Conmemorando un siglo de la reforma agraria y del agua.

People celebrated the Constitution’s centennial with theater, music, dance, video, and self-congratulating speeches. One hundred years in, and it was still one of the world’s most progressive. It guaranteed not only civil and political rights but social and economic rights, like the right to unionize, an adequate minimum wage, retirement security, equal pay for men and women, and paid maternity leave. Of course, this wasn’t 1887 and it wasn’t the United States’ celebration. In February 2017, the United Mexican States (Mexico’s often forgotten, official name) were busy celebrating their constitution.

We may admire the ambition of the Mexican constitution, but even more important to Mexico’s poor rural majority in 1917 was the right to—and duty to conserve—land and water. Indeed, this was the principal raison d’être of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 for which hundreds of thousands of Mexicans had shed blood and the culmination of their constitution. How Mexico bestowed agricultural land and simultaneously tried to conserve natural resources, principally water, in the emblematic Laguna region is at the core of the story I tell in Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico.

978-0-8223-6374-3This story changes our understanding of Mexican agrarian reform, Latin America’s longest and most extensive, distributing nearly half of the arable land to millions of campesinos (peasants) from 1917 to 1992. Ostensibly, land reform was the goal, but to the campesinos land was worthless without water. Unlike land, however, water—in all its fascinating, frustrating fluidity—refused to bend to official decrees or be bound by surveyor lines. It still does, and not only in Mexico. The recent controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) only proves the importance of water access and the fights over it. Through mass protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe helped popularize the motto that—just as, if not more so than land—“Water is Life.” After all, the DAPL doesn’t actually cross into Sioux land, but goes under the nearby Missouri River on which the Sioux depend. Interestingly, much of the politics, conflicts-of-interest, and corruption involved in building the DAPL resembles the story of hydraulic infrastructure-building in the name of the Mexican Revolution.  Though some still believe otherwise, then, as now, water rights and land rights cannot be separated.

This basic fact is illuminated by an envirotech history of water management. Envirotech’s premise is simple: Nature and technology not only impact one another, but become so interdependent that the boundary between them dissolves. A dam is an obvious example. An artificial, invasive structure, a dam creates new ecosystems upstream and down. In short, the envirotech perspective reminds us that people don’t just act on or react to nature, they also recreate it.

Envirotech is a new term in Mexican history but not necessarily new to Mexico. As I show in my introduction, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was attuned to envirotech long avant la lettre. From the 1920s Rivera celebrated in many of his murals motifs of putative harmony among humanity, nature, and technology. He depicted scenes in which engineers, or técnicos, adroitly executed land distribution and installed hydraulic infrastructure while a grateful nation applauded.

Brilliantly aspirational, Rivera’s murals didn’t reflect the complications and conflicts Mexicans incurred in making their Constitution’s mandate a reality. This is abundantly clear in the north-central Laguna region watered by the Nazas River, the focus of my book. The locals, or Laguneros, revered the Nazas as their “Nile” and “Father” for the rich sediment it brought to their fields from the Durango Mountains, yet it was a fickle patriarch. Some years it brought a trickle only to be followed by several years’ worth of torrential flows. This extreme irregularity was a source of constant recrimination among the farmers who relied upon the river for their livelihoods. As early as Porfirio Díaz’s presidency (1876-1911), a few water-deprived farmers, including the future president Francisco I. Madero, and government officials agreed upon an envirotechnical solution: damming the Nazas.

The Mexican Revolution, which overthrew Díaz, transformed the social and political landscape of the region and nation, and, with it, the social purpose of the dam, especially during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940). If before the Revolution, the dam’s purpose was to make water distribution more equitable, after the Revolution water redistribution had to complement land redistribution. This made the dam appear to many large landowners as a facilitator of land redistribution, which they vehemently opposed.

Large landowners had good reason to oppose the dam. In 1936, Cárdenas decreed Latin America’s hitherto largest land reform in the Laguna, but the dam never actually delivered on its promise of providing a bountiful supply of water. Campesinos found living off the land as difficult after the land reform as before, largely because of insufficient water. Instead, quite literally, the fight went underground. Anyone with enough money to drill a well and install a motorized pump could withdraw groundwater, which meant richer farmers disproportionately benefited while weathering drought. Less controversial didn’t mean less problematic, however: Today the Laguna’s aquifers are among Mexico’s most overexploited and contaminated.

The real tragedy, however, as I argue in the book, is that Laguneros and government officials knew what was happening and had regulations in place to address the problem. Mexico had the authority to regulate surface water as early as the 1917 Constitution and the power to regulate groundwater by 1947. (By contrast, U.S. federal legislation regulating groundwater, primarily for drinking, was passed in 2006.) But despite this power, the government lacked the will to enforce these laws and water users the restraint to comply. People ignored laws and regulations even though they understood—to varying degrees—that they were only harming themselves in the long run. Campesinos, landowners, and even—if only in reputation—the técnicos all suffered from the collective refusal to regulate water use. How and why this happened and its consequences are at the heart of my story.

Save 30% on the paperback edition of Watering the Revolution using coupon code E17WATER, or read the introduction before buying.

Read to Respond: Labor

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on labor, worker’s rights, and neoliberalism. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Labor

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?

ddrhr_128_coverThe most recent special issue of Radical History Review, “Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?”, edited by Margaret Power and Andor Skotnes, is now available.

Puerto Rico has been a United States colony for close to 115 years, and it was a Spanish colony for nearly four centuries before that. From a variety of economic, political, and cultural angles, this collected volume explores the realities and legacies of colonial experiences and the complex relationships of present-day Puerto Rico to the United States, Latin America, and the world. It focuses on the long, multifaceted resistance of Puerto Rican people to this colonialism and postcolonialism, and how the history and legacy of colonialism is key to understanding Puerto Rico today.

Essays in this issue explore topics such as:

  • Puerto Rico’s economic crisis
  • women’s independence organizing in Puerto Rico
  • gendered representations of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. press from 1940-1950

Read the guest editors’ introduction to this special issue, made freely available through August 30, 2017.

Recent Issue of Tikkun Addresses the 50th Anniversary of the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank

btn_header_tikkun_logoIn the most recent issue of Tikkun, editor Rabbi Michael Lerner and contributors address the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as it reaches its 50th year. “The Occupation At 50” includes an editorial by Rabbi Lerner calling for momentum in the One Person/One Vote movement.

From the editorial:

With sufficient sensitivity, empathy and generosity of spirit, we could accomplish a powerful change of consciousness!

This is the real challenge—not headline grabbing, but the day-to-day, neighborhood and community group organizing around a vision of the world we want, not just what we are against. We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives can play our part, but this will take the participation and support of all those who really want to achieve the kind of liberation from Occupation that will benefit the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Jews, and all others on this planet.

In this issue of Tikkun we invited a broad swath of people, including many who disagree with us to our left and to our right, to comment on what the Occupation has meant to them and/or their ideas about how to end it.

The issue includes articles on topics such as:

Browse the table-of-contents to the issue and read Rabbi Lerner’s editorial, made freely available.

French Historical Studies Authors Win Two Prizes

The Society for French Historical Studies has awarded two prizes to articles featured in French Historical Studies!

ddfhs_39_4The 2016 William Koren, Jr. Prize is awarded by the Society for French Historical Studies to the most outstanding article on any period of French history published the previous year by a scholar appointed at a college or university in the United States or Canada. The prize committee seeks out contenders from American, Canadian, and European journals and may decide whether articles that have appeared as part of a book or in the published proceedings of a scholarly conference are eligible for consideration. This year’s award goes to Nguyễn Thị Điểu, author of “Ritual, Power, and Pageantry: French Ritual Politics in Monarchical Vietnam.” This article is featured in French Historical Studies, volume 39, issue 4 (October 2016).

ddfhs_39_2The runner up for the 2016 Malcolm Bowie Prize was Dónal Hassett, whose article, “Pupilles de l’Empire: Debating the Provision for Child Victims of the Great War in the French Empire,” was featured in French Historical Studies volume 39, issue 2 (April 2016). The Malcolm Bowie Prize, given by the Society for French Historical Studies, is awarded each year for the best article published in the preceding year by an early-career researcher in the broader discipline of French Studies.

Congratulations to both winners! Read these award-winning articles, made freely available.

International Museum Day

Today is International Museum Day, which raises awareness of museums as “an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” We’re happy to contribute to the cause by sharing some of our scholarship that celebrates and critically examines museums and their work.

978-0-8223-5897-8Prior to 1967 fewer than a dozen museum exhibitions had featured the work of African American artists. And by the time the civil rights movement reached the American art museum, it had already crested: the first public demonstrations to integrate museums occurred in late 1968, twenty years after the desegregation of the military and fourteen years after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. In Mounting Frustration Susan E. Cahan investigates the strategies African American artists and museum professionals employed as they wrangled over access to and the direction of New York City’s elite museums.

Bennett_pbk_cover.inddThe coauthors of the theoretically innovative Collecting, Ordering, Governing explore the relationships among anthropological fieldwork, museum collecting and display, and social governance in the early twentieth century in Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand, and the United States. With case studies ranging from the Musée de l’Homme’s 1930s fieldwork missions in French Indo-China to the influence of Franz Boas’s culture concept on the development of American museums, the authors illuminate recent debates about postwar forms of multicultural governance, cultural conceptions of difference, and postcolonial policy and practice in museums.

ddaaa_67_1Archives of Asian Art is a journal devoted to publishing new scholarship on the art and architecture of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Articles discuss premodern and contemporary visual arts, archaeology, architecture, and the history of collecting.  Every issue is fully illustrated (with color plates in the online version), and each fall issue includes an illustrated compendium of recent acquisitions of Asian art by leading museums and collections.

Museum Frictions is a lavishly illustrated examination of the significant and varied effects of the increasingly globalized world on contemporary museum, heritage, and exhibition practice. The contributors—scholars, artists, and curators—present case studies drawn from Africa, Australia, North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Together they offer a multifaceted analysis of the complex roles that national and community museums, museums of art and history, monuments, heritage sites, and theme parks play in creating public cultures.

In Museum Skepticism, art historian David Carrier traces the birth, evolution, and decline of the public art museum as an institution meant to spark democratic debate and discussion. Carrier contends that since the inception of the public art museum during the French Revolution, its development has depended on growth: on the expansion of collections, particularly to include works representing non-European cultures, and on the proliferation of art museums around the globe. Arguing that this expansionist project has peaked, he asserts that art museums must now find new ways of making high art relevant to contemporary lives.

978-0-8223-5429-1In the late nineteenth century, Japan’s new Meiji government established museums to showcase a national aesthetic heritage, spur industrialization and self-disciplined public behavior, and cultivate an “imperial public” loyal to the emperor. By the mid-1930s, the Japanese museum system had established or absorbed institutions in Taiwan, Korea, Sakhalin, and Manchuria. Unsurprisingly, colonial subjects’ views of Japanese imperialism differed from those promulgated by the Japanese state. In Public Properties Noriko Aso describes how museums in Japan and its empire contributed to the reimagining of state and society during the imperial era despite vigorous disagreements about what was to be displayed, how, and by whom it was to be seen.

 The New History in an Old Museum is an exploration of “historical truth” as presented at Colonial Williamsburg. More than a detailed history of a museum and tourist attraction, it examines the packaging of American history, and consumerism and the manufacturing of cultural beliefs. Through extensive fieldwork, Richard Handler and Eric Gable illustrate how corporate sensibility blends with pedagogical principle in Colonial Williamsburg to blur the lines between education and entertainment, patriotism and revisionism.

ddnka_31 Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art focuses on publishing critical work that examines contemporary African and African Diaspora art within the modernist and postmodernist experience and includes scholarly articles, reviews (exhibits and books), interviews, and roundtable discussions. In “Nka Roundtable III: Contemporary African Art and the Museum,” contributors examine the role of museums in bringing the work of African artists to the consciousness of the contemporary world. The topics covered include the participants’ first meaningful encounters with contemporary African art, the role of the curator of contemporary African art in the museum, and the age-old question about presenting contemporary African art in art and/or ethnology museums.

Stuart Hall’s First Encounter with London

In this excerpt from Stuart Hall’s new memoir, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, he describes his trip with his mother, Jessie, from Jamaica to the United Kingdom. Hall had earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and the two traveled there together in 1951. Enjoy the excerpt and then buy the book for 30% off with coupon E17FAMST.

978-0-8223-6387-3_pr w strokeIt is uncannily disconcerting to look back at my younger self, arriving in the port of Avonmouth in 1951, ready for a new life but absolutely unsure how it would happen, or what it would look like if it did. I was indeed elsewhere! I can say, however, that the colonial experience prepared me for England. Far from being an untroubled, innocent opportunity for me to step out into something new, this was an encounter which was mightily overdetermined.

My arrival preceded by some three months the general election in October in which the Conservatives ousted Labour and Winston Churchill regained the office of Prime Minister. After a short while I headed for Oxford University, into the very cultural heartland of England.

But this was an encounter which has not yet come to an end. It continues. It was, as Donald Hinds termed it a long while ago, ‘a journey to an illusion’ – or rather, a journey to the shattering of illusions, inaugurating a process of protracted disenchantment. I didn’t really know what I would find or what I would do with ‘it’ if I found ‘it’. I knew I didn’t want to be ‘it’, whatever that was. But I did want to encounter in the flesh, as it were, this phantasm of ‘other worlds’, swollen with – as it happened – false promise. What I really knew about Britain turned out to be a bewildering farrago of reality and fantasy. However, such illusions as I may have taken with me were unrealized because, fortunately, they were unrealizable. The episode was painful as well as exciting. It changed me irrevocably, almost none of it in ways I had remotely anticipated.

The whole experience was eerily familiar and disconcertingly strange at the same time. One can attribute this to the sense of déjà‑vu which assails colonial travellers on first encountering face-to-face the imperial metropole, which they actually know only in its translated form through a colonial haze, but which has always functioned as their ‘constitutive outside’: constituting them, or us, by its absence, because it is what they – we – are not. This is a manner of being defined from the beyond!

On the boat train to London, I kept feeling I’d seen this place somewhere before, as in a screen memory. It provoked a deep psychic recognition, an illusory after-effect. Had I been here before? Yes and no. I hadn’t anticipated what the English countryside would look like but, once I saw it whizzing past the train windows, I knew that this was how it should look: those proper, well-fed, black-and-white cows munching away contentedly in their neatly divided, hedgerowed fields surrounded by enormous, spreading sycamore trees. Everything I had read had prepared me for that. I knew, after all, the novels of Thomas Hardy. On the other hand, nothing had prepared me for the stark contrast between the sombre brick-and-cement hues and the well-disciplined dark, monotone character of London streets and the chaotic bustle of Kingston street life, with people shoving past one another on the crowded pavements, the handcarts and ice barrows with their rows of syrup bottles, the raucous hubbub and teeming vitality, provincial as it was.

London, when we got there, felt unwelcoming and forbidding. I guess my memories must have been infiltrated by what happened later, for what immediately comes to mind is the heavy, leaden autumn sky, the light permanently stuck halfway to dusk, the constant fine drizzle (where was the proper rain, the tropical downpour?), the blank windows of the square black cabs, the anonymity of the faces in the red double-decker buses, the yellow headlights glistening off the wet tarmac along the Bayswater Road. A dark, shuttered, anonymous city; high blocks of mansion flats,
turning up their noses at the life of the streets below. Everyone was buttoned up in dark suits, overcoats and hats, many carrying the proverbial umbrellas, scurrying with downcast eyes through the gathering gloom to unknown destinations. This was post-war austerity London, with its bombed-out sites, rubble and gaping spaces like missing teeth. A faint mist permanently shrouded Hyde Park, where ladies in jodhpurs and hard riding hats cantered their horses in the early mornings; the lights blazed in the Oxford Street department stores by three in the afternoon. There must have been bright and sunny days, for it was only the end of summer. But I don’t remember them.

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Archives in French History

ddfhs_40_2In the most recent issue of French Historical Studies, “Archives in French History,” editors Sarah A. Curtis and Stephen L. Harp examine the role of the archive in the study of French history. “Archives are a subject as well as an object of study, not simple depots for boxes containing unambiguous evidence of the past waiting to be discovered by historians,” they write in the introduction. “This issue reveals not only the breadth of archives now used to write French history but also the depth of thinking about the relationship between archives and history and between archives and historians.”

Contributors to this issue question the nature, origin, or history of the archive in French history to examine its dynamic relationship to the history that is written, rather than treating the archive as static or inert. The archives, therefore, are the historical subjects themselves. They answer questions like what constitutes an archive, what is the role of the state in the archival collection, what is no longer in the archive, who controls access to the archive, and what historians owe to their sources.

From the introduction:

Despite these new questions, our contention is that historians of France, like historians in many other fields today, use a wider array of archives, and we use them more broadly, more deeply, and more self-consciously than ever before. One special issue cannot fully capture that depth or that breadth, but the essays here offer a taste of the richness that characterizes current work on France while also providing thoughtful understandings of the structure and context of archives. We hope they encourage you to reflect—critically or not—on your own archive stories.

Topics in this issue include the ownership of history, sex in the archives, discovering an accidental archive, and the destruction and salvation of the archive. Browse the full table-of-contents.

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Now Available: First Issue of Archives of Asian Art published by Duke University Press

ddaaa_67_1We are pleased to announce the first issue of Archives of Asian Art published by Duke University Press, volume 67, issue 1, is now available at asianart.dukejournals.org.

Archives of Asian Art, edited by Stanley K. Abe, is devoted to publishing new scholarship on the art and architecture of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Articles discuss premodern and contemporary visual arts, archaeology, architecture, and the history of collecting. Submissions are encouraged in all areas of study related to Asian art and architecture to maintain a balanced representation of regions and types of art, and to present a variety of scholarly perspectives. Every issue is fully illustrated (with color plates in the online version), and each fall issue includes an illustrated compendium of recent acquisitions of Asian art by leading museums and collections.

Browse the table-of-contents for the current issue and read back content from 2001 to the present.