The call for submissions for this month’s History Carnival brought in an amazing collection of blog entries. How on earth can I, your poor editor this month, possibly sort through, categorize and comment on such a wide and varied range of topics?
(All pictures come directly from Alexis Coe’s 8 Book Historians, Curators, Specialists, And Librarians Who Are Killing It Online)
The Contemporarily Relevant
Let’s start off with those contributions that have been prompted by what’s been in the news recently.
Russia’s anti-gay laws prompted a lot of people to compare the Sochi Olympics with the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. But is the comparison justified? Or is it just a knee-jerk, one-size-fits-all insult? (I learned just the other day that this is called in internet circles the ‘reductio ad Hitlerum’.) Sheffield University’s History Matters blog, which is running a series of posts for LGBT History Month, attempts to answer those questions in Cyd Sturgess’s post Should we really compare Sochi 2014 to the ‘Hitler Olympics’?.
This month Londoners had to put up with public transport strikes. In The Pirate Omnibus Simon Abernethy looks back on the strike of January 1962. And just as in 2014, the results were a typically British mix of chaos, pluck and sheer oddity:
One organisation, the disturbingly militant sounding People’s League for the Defence of Freedom, announced they were hiring buses which they would run themselves in a sort of vigilante double-decker transport endeavor.
With the French Parliament having just voted to continue the country’s present military engagement in the Central African Republic (CAR), Dr. Jean-Pierre Bat at Imperial & Global looks at the colonial and post-colonial history that lies behind current French military policy in Africa. Read it here.
And lastly in this section, it would hardly be possible to ignore the centenary of the outbreak of a certain well-known global conflict. Who was to blame for it? The Serbians? The Austrians? The Germans? Baldrick?? Michael Gove??? Sorry, I think I’ll go and lie down for a bit. While I do, you can read Carl Jones’ thoughtful analysis of trade, transport and Middle Eastern policy: Oil, Trains and Mesopotamia: The Outbreak of the First World War.
The Quirky and Bizarre
Next we come to the “Well-I-never!” section. Japanese war dogs! New York sheep!! Sadistic murdering Hungarian countesses!!!
- The Canine Heroes of the Imperial Japanese Army: How three dead dogs helped sell the war to the Japanese public (on medium.com)
- When Sheep Ruled Central Park (on http://modernfarmer.com)
- Yes, We Can Now Talk About Elizabeth Báthory (on http://the-toast.net)
How to top that? Well, how about a cookery book with added disquisitions on the Chinese language’s lack of a subjunctive perfect? Madeline Hsu tells the tale of the pioneering How to Cook and Eat in Chinese in
Domesticating Ethnic Foods and Becoming American.
And lastly in this section, a post on the pleasingly oxymoronic idea of rioting for peace:
It all started in July 1919 when the Mayor [of Luton], Edwin Oakley, announced there would be a banquet to celebrate the end of hostilities. Uncontroversial you might think, but far from it.
First of all women were not allowed to attend. Worse still those who had not been invited directly by the Mayor had to pay fifteen shillings to attend, far out of reach for most ex-servicemen – although a half penny had been added to the rates to ensure that the well to do of Luton could have a slap up feast. Add to this no veterans organisation had been asked to help plan the events, and when they decided to hold their own alternative event in the park permission was effectively refused.
Read on: The Luton Peace Riot of 1919
Hmmm… elected toffs use taxpayers’ money to look after themselves and their chums? Perhaps this one should also be filed under “Contemporary Relevance”…
The Historiographical and History-Related
Right, that’s enough violence and cute animals. Let’s move on to the serious stuff.
In our second contribution this month from the Imperial & Global Forum blog Fabian Klose suggests that decolonization can only be understood in the context of the debates on universal fundamental rights in Debating Human Rights and Decolonization.
And back to the First World War again: armsandthemedicalman looks at recent television coverage of the Great War and pertinently asks, firstly, “Where are all the academic historians?” and secondly, “Whose research are these programmes based on?” The full post explains why this matters and discusses how one could deal with the problem. Well worth a read.
Maybe it’s just because I’m quite lazy, but I’m a big fan of blogs that make available to everyone otherwise-hard-to-find primary (and secondary) sources.
Of these, we first have Not Even Past’s new series, The New Archive: reviews of new digital history websites & projects. In History in Motion Henry Wiencek looks at The Spatial History Project, which uses digital technology to produce maps that visually animate historical change. “You can watch as infectious diseases spread, as railroads expand, as people migrate, and as Nazi concentration camps are built and, as a result, you can gain a better insight on how, and why, it all happened.”
Elsewhere on the same site, Charley S. Binkow looks at the Harry Ransom Center’s digitalization of the scrapbooks of legendary magician Harry Houdini in History Made Magic: The Scrapbooks of Harry Houdini Come Alive
Having had cause myself last week to look up some old legislation myself last week (the Treason Act of 1351; see here), the post that really struck a chord with me was John Levin’s on which Acts of Parliament can be found online. Not only has John provided the rest of us with a comprehensive annotated list of where to find these, he also makes a case for the importance of repealed statutes for historical memory, and protest their absence from the official archives. You can read his argument and/or enjoy the fruits of his labours by clicking here.
The Editor’s Privilege
To finish off, I’m going to indulge myself with something from my own area of interest. As my choice, I have settled on The Irish Aesthete on the long slow decline of Dublin’s most important, most historic and almost certainly most ugly street: On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
So, that’s it for this month. Thanks for reading, thanks as well to all those who contributed, and apologies to those who I didn’t manage to fit in. (A few submissions came in too late for me to properly consider them.)
Next month’s History Carnival will be hosted by http://thequackdoctor.com/.
- Let me just squeeze in here The View East’s interview with Paula Kirby on living in the GDR and what happened when she applied to see the file the German secret police had kept on her. ↩