Retrospect Journal Issue No. 21: Individuals and Communities

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Retrospect Journal.
































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THE TEAM Rebecca Rosser Tomรกs | Editor in Chief Emma Marriott | Deputy Editor Lauren-Leigh Porter | Deputy Editor

Eleanor Hemming Candice Maharaj Fay Marsden Luis Monroy Lewis Twiby



Travis Aaroe Carissa Chew Bella Howard-Vyse Ellie Parker Daniel Sharp



India Hall | Publicity Officer Grace Young | Fundraising Officer

Alfie Garland Max Leslie


Radio Editors

Matilda Taylor | Design Editor Silvia Razakova | Template Designer





EDITOR’S NOTE Not a year passes in peace and tranquility. There are always extraordinary events that occur; sadly, the negative ones are most remembered in posteriority. The year 2017 has witnessed remarkable feats that future issues of Retrospect will examine through historical microscopes. However, it does not cease to surprise me how we identify good events with communities sharing happiness and empathy, and bad events with an individual, or a small group of individuals, acting unkindly and with little compassion. This is why when Retrospect’s Editorial Team decided to set this issue’s theme, we were eager to explore the relationship between individuals and communities. We wanted to know how communities are formed, how communities are maintained, and how an individual can enter a community or belong to a community. The reader will soon realise that many of this issue’s articles examine how individuals and communities experienced different conflicts, and how conflicts have influenced individuals’ perspectives of each other and of other communities. I must apologise if you thought that this was going to be a pleasant bedtime read! But let me reassure you by drawing attention to writers’ strong concern with diverse factors that have impeded communities’ development and enrichment as well as with the power of an individual to shape a community. It has not escaped us that individuals and communities are deeply influenced by territorial borders, nationalities, and cultures. Within this issue, Emma Marriott introduces us to the Singaporean nationality, deeply

marked by Singapore’s relations with China; Carissa Chew offers the reader an insight into her family’s experience during the Bangladesh War; Maria Marshall provides a moving and compelling account of the Cuban children of Operation Pedro Pan; and Scarlett Butler brings light to the 1950s American culture and its different approach to women, Marilyn Monroe’s womanhood, and femininity. At Retrospect, we do not believe that languages are a signature of individualism or communalism. Instead, Retrospect has demonstrated in its online publication that languages are communication vehicles through which we can understand each other better. We have welcomed submissions in foreign languages and collaborated with foreign universities in order to learn about the history of the world from different communities’ perspectives. Furthermore, as Editor-in-Chief, I am delighted to see the internationality of our writers and editors manifested in different styles of writing that reflect the writer’s passion about their home cou nt ries a nd native communities. This is reflected in both Luis Monroy’s piece, recreating the magical realist spirit that is so symbolic in Latin American literature, and high school student Kirstie Cronin’s fictional account of a young British soldier in the war. The love for writing and research that Retrospect’s writers and editors display in this journal is surpassed by their commitment to empowering individuals, fostering a community spirit, and realising a happier, healthier, and more peaceful world. It is with



great responsibility and interest that Retrospect’s Editorial Team has worked alongside fellow societies, the Students’ Association’s Underg radu ate Representative, and the staff of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA) towards the creation of enjoyable events that increase the inclusiveness and interconnectedness between all individuals studying a subject in the HCA School. Finally, allow me to dedicate my closing remarks to thank writers and editors for their consistent strive for excellence and belief in the power of research and writing; to the School of History, Classics and Archaeology for their kind assistance and encouragement; and, to Black Medicine for its support and provision of coffee. Happy reading! (Keep an eye on our website (www. and participate in our next issue by submitting your a r t icles to subm ission s@


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Greetings from the History Society!

creating CLASSICS a comm

This year as a committee we have dedicated ourselves to the goal of inclusivity, trying to put on events to suit all tastes, and I believe that we have truly proved our commitment to foster such a community-based environment through our vast catalogue of events!

Our academic lecture series grew exponentially this year offering our members lectures, pub discussions, and workshops on a variety of topics. The ‘fan favourite’ Whiskey Rebellion podcast lecture –this year focusing on the effects of a Trump presidency– featuring Dr. David Silkenat and Professor Frank Cogliano, returned triumphantly! Other interactive History Society workshops have seen our members filling the biographical gaps on Wikipedia as a part of ‘Black History Month’. Socially, the History Society lived up to their reputation as one of the most vibrant societies on campus by winning the annual Sports vs Societies Big Cheese for the third year running. Our pub quiz was a roaring success giving birth to lively academic rivalries. The History Ball sold out in record time and lived up to everyone’s expectations. The History Society prides itself on its annual international trip and this year we were delighted to offer 40 places to Vienna and Budapest which were also very quickly snapped up. I would like to reiterate to all of our friends in Retrospect, Classics, Archaeology and beyond that we, as a society, exist to help your university experience be the best it can possibly be. We recently forged the way for the installation of an anonymous drop box in the HCA Common room and I would urge you to use this so we, as representatives of the student body, can push for the improvement of our school and our university! Ruairidh Nichols President of the History Society Facebook: edunihistorysoc/ Twitter: @edunihistsoc


Greetings from the Classics Society!

The Classics Society has had a wonderful first semester of the 2017-18 academic year! Firstly, we have seen lots of new faces this year, including current students’ who have been drawn to the society for their first time this year. Indeed, we love meeting people who enjoy Classics as much as we do, and absolutely love welcoming them into our society community!

Our weekly socials have been really good fun. They have included a Toga Pub Crawl, our annual Staff vs Student Pub Quiz (in which the students actually beat the staff for once!), and our famous pub nights. We will be rounding off the semester with our annual Christmas Meal at Vittoria’s, bringing together students and lecturers for a well-deserved festive evening. Academic lectures have occupied a great deal of our attention this term. For this reason, we maintain strong ties with other HCA societies. We want the Classics community to benefit as much as possible from all the learning opportunities that the School as a whole provides. Next semester the Classics Society are embarking on a trip to Athens, for which we are very excited! There will be 25 of us heading away from the “Athens of the North” to the birthplace of democracy. Our trips have always been very fun and an important part of uniting our members within the society and we hope to carry on this tradition! Furthermore, we are working on strengthening our community outreach activities. Our Charity and Outreach Officer has been working tirelessly on the establishment of a Classics Workshop for local primary school children, organised by our fabulous Charity and Outreach Officer. This promises to be a great opportunity for the society to work with the local community! Finally, I would like to thank everyone on the committee and within the society for helping us have such a successful semester so far. Our current success is a testament to the committee’s hard work and our society members’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. We honestly could not do what we do without all of you wonderful individuals! Kate Dowell President of the Classics Society Facebook: edclassicssoc/ Twitter: @Edclassicssoc

ARCHAEOLOGY Greetings from Arch Soc!

Arch Soc ran a succession of outreach community digs at Dunfermline alongside the Young Archaeologists Club, which are growing in popularity and attendance. The workshop series that we organised has improved student performance in their academic courses and strengthened a sense of community within the Department of Archaeology. In particular, our workshops have helped new students get acquainted with the most practical aspects of archaeology and familiar with the Department and their peers. Furthermore, our trips to Melrose Abbey and Linlithgow have allowed for a more closely knit archaeological community within our Department. Next semester we are very excited to be working alongside Glasgow University Archaeology Society to hold the first Student Archaeology Conference, which will serve to connect the archaeological community across the Scotland. We are also organising an Oddball in February 2018 which is designed for smaller societies that receive less recognition. It will be a chance to come together and celebrate all that makes us different and special. Finally, nothing of what we do as a committee could be fulfilled without the never-ending support of our members. We could not do it without you, and, as always, we hugely appreciate your support and encouragement throughout this term. Here’s to 2018! Heather Ross President of the Archaeology Society Facebook: EdinburghArchSoc/?fref=ts Twitter: @EdinArchSoc Instagram: @edinarch





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“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.” The words of Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, aptly combine the theme of this issue of Retrospect Journal – Individuals and Communities. In my role as Undergraduate Representative for the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, I am well aware of the need to foster the spirit of community in order to create an environment in which individual students can excel, challenge each other, and, most importantly, feel comfortable and valued in their place of work. Retrospect plays a huge part in our community, bringing together students from a variety of academic disciplines to exhibit their aptitude and enthusiasm for their field of study. As a School, we are not only part of a university community but also a worldwide academic community. Reforms to the structure and teaching methods of the University of Edinburgh in 1708 were implemented by Principal, William Carstares, who had studied in the Netherlands and sought to bring Dutch practice to Scotland. The reforms modernised the teaching system and introduced new academic disciplines; opening the University to students from across the world, establishing a network of scholars, and bringing Scotland to the forefront of academic research, enabling the University to compete with leading institutions abroad. Today, the HCA School brings together some of the most forward-thinking, intellectual, and dynamic

students from across the world– a global community in a seven-storey building. This international commitment is reflected in Retrospect Journal’s recently-established links with journals at universities across North America. Striving to make this community the most successful, productive and contented it can be, I have spent the semester working closely with the School’s academic and administrative staff, with the School’s societies and volunteer groups, and with elected representatives from across the University through the Students’ Association. Through my weekly drop-in sessions and an increased number of School Council meetings, students have been able to discuss with me directly their concerns, suggestions, and queries. So far, I have been engaged in a diverse range of projects and discussions including: changing the representation of students at a year-group level, mental health and wellbeing provisions, the organisation and teaching of specific courses, staffstudent social events, and the recently-published Student Partnership Agreement which details specific areas where staff and students can work together to improve the teaching and learning experience. Enhancing the voice of the student body has been central to my efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any help. I look forward to working with Retrospect Journal, the other HCA-based societies, and you, the staff and students of the School, to develop the potential of our community over the coming months.

Thomas Wrench @TD_Wrench




PARTITION: IDENTITY IN A DIVIDED COMMUNITY Seventy years ago on 14 and 15 August 1947, the world witnessed the partition of India and the creation of the state of Pakistan as a result of British withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent. It was the end of almost two centuries of British involvement in India and was a long awaited moment for Indians and Pakistanis alike. However, little planning went into how the newly-formed countries would progress, as most of the focus had been on gaining independence. This made the process difficult and resulted in tensions across borders and within the countries themselves. Although Partition has a rich political legacy, upon investigation, it is evident that the disruption it caused for individuals means that its legacy lives on today in the painful memories of citizens and communities. Partition had an impact on the identities of both individuals and communities. The argument that Pakistan was a country for Muslims and India was a secular state meant that individuals and communities had to question what it meant to be Indian or Pakistani. For example, Bengal was a mix of Hindus and Muslims, and the initial plans for dividing the province into a Muslim-majority East Bengal and Hindu-majority West Bengal made individuals question both their personal identity and the identity of their communities. It was a common misconception after Partition that Muslims would automatically feel an attachment to Pakistan because its government pronounced it an Islamic state. Primary accounts detailing links to Pakistan convey the sense of confusion over individual identity. In an interview, the ‘Lucknow Sisters’ described how ‘people say Muslims

belong in Pakistan…what do we have to do with Pakistan?’ This question emphasises that not all Muslims wanted to move, and also suggests that there was an over-emphasis on religion, as the sisters felt a stronger connection as Indian nationals than they did as Muslim girls. Taran, another interviewed woman, relates how she ‘could never live in a country where they force religion down your throat, force you to pray, to wear a particular dress,’ conveying how officials equated religion with national identity – however, this sentiment did not necessarily extend to the general public. Furthermore, the search for identity was not solely taken up by Muslims and Hindus, but also by other religious communities, particularly Sikhs. There was a lot of public emphasis on Pakistan as a country for Muslims and India as a country for Hindus, resulting in some Sikhs believing ‘we belong neither to India nor to Pakistan’. Thus, Partition complicated national and individual identity to the extent that they rarely correlated with each other. The difficulty of forging new identities was further complicated by the mass movement of people across newly formed borders and the thousands of refugees that both countries had to deal with as a result of forced migration. This was an unintended consequence as Britain, the Indian Congress and the Muslim League did not prioritise preparing for the potential effects on civilians over the need for political action, which was further obscured by bringing the date of Partition forward a year. This added to the frustration amongst the general public, as they felt disappointed by the lack of action

by previously hailed leaders, such as Mahatma Gandhi. 60 million out of 100 million Muslims were expected to move to both East and West Pakistan and by the end of April 1947, there were almost 80,000 refugees in the Punjab. The division of the Punjab resulted in the division of Sikh communities which meant that migration not only affected Muslims and Hindus, but also other religious communities. Administrative problems developed as a result of moving people and ensuring that refugees had enough supplies. It is easy to view the large quantities of people who had to move across borders as statistics on a page, but it became one of the most disruptive legacies of Partition. Testimonies and literature convey the heavy sense of distance and strain put on families who had to move. The first is an account by a man called Rafi bhai, who experienced Partition as a child and the interviewer comments on how ‘the midnight of freedom… was entirely eclipsed in his memory by the departure of his loved ones, the desolation of mass exodus…more than a quarter of the city’s population, left the city in the ensuing months’. This conveys how little pre-emptive action was taken to ease the effect Partition would have on the lives of civilians and how one of the main legacies has been the fragmentation of families and communities. The effects of Partition were also reflected in the literature that was produced post-1947. For example, in Kamleshwar’s How many Pakistans? the narrator despairs over being separated from his lover. ‘Why should Pakistan come between us again and again? Pakistan conveys nothing to me or to you. It is a…reality that sets us apart and then draws a



wedge of silence between us… Perhaps this void, this lack of feeling has assumed the name of Pakistan.’ The fact that Partition became an important genre for many authors in India and Pakistan emphasises how deeply it affected society. The questioning of the narrator suggests t hat t he supposed ly joyf u l independence of Pakistan was in fact a nightmare for many people, full of doubts and uncertainty, as shown in the memory of Rafi bhai. It is effective how Kamleshwar chooses to define ‘Pakistan’ as the lack of connection people felt to the new state replacing the true definition of the word, ‘land of the pure’. The movement of people across boundaries continued into the 1950s and both Pakistan and India reported the movement of over a million people between 1951 and 1957, emphasising the scale of the decision to divide the subcontinent. Overall,

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around seventeen million people moved across frontiers and even 50 years after Partition, there were still 1,100 ‘displaced persons’ in India. This reveals how migration problems could not be resolved quickly and implies that, despite nationalist claims and pride portrayed through the celebration of independence days, it took years for a sense of national identity to form. Consequently, the movement of people and displacement of communities led to large amounts of agitation which soon transformed into violence, one of the most memorable legacies of 1947. One could argue that the act of drawing political boundaries and the movement of people was violent in itself as many did in fact decide to stay and convert. This is supported by Gyanendra Pandey’s argument that historians separate Partition and violence, focusing on


the constitutional change, whereas he sees Partition as a form of violence because it was tearing apart a country. The fragmentation of the country highlighted religious divisions and thus exacerbated sectarian violence; in East Punjab, it is believed that around 20,000 Muslims were killed by Hindus and Sikhs. There were also rumours of violence in West Punjab, fuelled by events such as the burning of Sikh bookshops in the East, which heightened an already tense atmosphere to the extent that a curfew was enforced in Karachi as a preventative measure. Moreover, as refugees and migration fed the violence, violence also exacerbated the number of people who had lost their homes; an account discusses how ‘[the Hindus] were… pushing out the Muslims from their houses…Muslims had taken over a separate state…so they had no right to live here.’ It is therefore not


surprising that such a large number of Muslims felt like they did not belong anywhere because they did not feel a connection to Pakistan but were simultaneously told that they no longer belonged in India. The memories of 1947 resurfaced in 1984, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards. This led to the killing of around 2,000 Sikhs in Delhi. Individual accounts recalled what it was like living through Partition again as ‘people… could still be divided by the politics of their religious difference, and, once divided, could do terrible things to each other.’ This highlights how the divisions which were exacerbated by Partition continued to affect society almost 40 years later. A government report described how horrific the violence was: ‘They were beaten first and then burnt alive in a systematic manner…tyres were put around their necks and then they were set on fire by pouring kerosene or petrol over them.’ It later states that local leaders encouraged the acts of violence which displays how the two governments exacerbated sectarian narratives. This was also seen in the earlier violence post-1947 when the Commissioner of Delhi blamed the violence against Muslims on Hindu and Sikh refugees. The violence of Partition exposed the fragmentation of South Asian society, a division which continues to echo in some communities today. In August of this year, both Pakistan and India celebrated their Independence Days with military salutes, special events and community celebrations. However, Partition is still a delicate subject; although the majority of people tend to focus on the celebration of Independence, the fragmentation of communities, pitting neighbour against neighbour and sectarian divisions, still undercuts the celebrations today. It is hard to mention the event to a citizen from either country without hearing the distaste that some individuals continue to have for the other country and the legacy of the event. Therefore, it will still take time for the damage of the event to fade as the individuals who had to completely uproot their lives continue to live with the memory of the devastation the decision made.





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The ‘Lion City’, and the ‘Garden City’, are just a few descriptions given to Singapore, with its tree top walks and a sporadic dotting of Merlions (the national animal) around the country. It is one of the world’s few remaining sovereign states and enjoys a unique platform on the global stage. Only two hundred and seven square miles large, it is not lumbered by huge rural areas, and the city state is the nucleus of the country. Although named the ‘Little Red Dot’ because that is all that appears to be on a world map, Singapore is now the third most competitive country with the second biggest container port in the world; a leap and a half from a third world country to a first world country, and a continuously developing Asian Tiger economy. Singapore gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 to form Malaysia but separated in 1965 due to the ideological disparities between the two. Its first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dominated Singaporean politics in the wake of independence and became Singapore’s founding father, and leader of the People’s Action Party, which has won every election since self-governance. According to the 1970 census, the

Chinese constitute 78.8% of the population, the Malays 14%, Indians 6% and an ‘other’ category, making up the remaining 1%. Although these statistics underline a predominance of Chinese inhabitants, the location of Singapore, caught between the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, surrounded by predominantly Malay countries (Malaysia and Indonesia), means that it cannot emphasise the ‘Chineseness’ of the country so as not to alienate or aggravate its neighbours. Thus, the creation of a Singaporean national identity has been on the agenda since it got its own independence in 1965. However, although when people visit Singapore now, they see it as a positive and safe place, its history is marked with race issues and complications. There is not one ‘Singaporean Race’. The ethnic groups can again be subdivided from their monolithic umbrella terms. For example, Singaporean-Chinese can be from many dialects such as Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese, Hokkien and Foochow. In the same way, SingaporeanMalay can be Bugis, Boyanese and Javanese, with diversity levels being accentuated with Tamils, Malayalee, Bengalis, Telegus and Sinhalese, to

name a few. The objective and the challenge for the young nation was to build a nation of Singaporeans out of the distinct groups. Due to Singapore’s wide range of cultures and languages, it has never had a principal culture that migrants could adopt. Lee tried to create a unique Singaporean identity in the 1970s and 80s, which was dominated by a racial consciousness of multiculturalism. Although an equivocal term, multiculturalism can mean cultural pluralism, where different ethnic groups cooperate, but not to the detriment of their own identities. One way in which Lee Kuan Yew tackled the disparity is that he set up the Ethnic Integration Policy, which implements an even ethnic distribution in housing across Singapore. This amalgamation also stretches to politics with the Group Representation Constituency (GRC), which is an electoral division in which teams of candidates, instead of individual candidates, compete to be elected to parliament. required to fill at least one candidate from each ethnic minority. By this, there was a depoliticization of the different cultures, as they were placed under a Singaporean





umbrella political system. Lee Kuan Yew is one of the reasons as to why Singapore has been t r a n sfor med f rom r a n k i ng economically with Chile and Mexico in 1965, to having a GNP four or five times theirs. He assumed leadership from the moment of self-governance to his retirement in 1990. Singapore can be described as a soft-authoritarian regime. Lee Kuan Yew understood that it was important to anchor a national identity alongside inviting global investment and incorporation. The PAP (People’s Action Party) have relied primarily on three sectors in the development of national identity: economic development, domestic integration (education, national service, public housing), and friendly foreign relations. It was identified that without nation building and a strong economic platform, the creation of a national identity would be a struggle. The PAP Development Plan in the years after independence spent 60% of its expenditure on economic development – and citizens were given the essential foundation to augment their commitment in Singapore’s development. Having strong economic development, and the ability to industrialize, encourages national alliance, due to fundamental benefits for the individual and to the community. Education in Singapore is immense. Government expenditure on education has been gradually increasing since independence and the 1975/76 estimated expenditure of $448million. In the education system, the PAP has implemented the creation of communal harmony, and have insisted on the integration of bilingualism, so that students can interact with people from his or her own community, but also, with another linguistic group. In her article ‘Whither Singapore’s Education’, Dr Ruth Wong, former Director of the Institute of Education said that ‘a primary concern of the PAP Government right from the beginning has been that the three main ethnic groups comprising Singapore’s population should not only be tolerant of one another but should also become

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a cohesive whole’. This ‘cohesive whole’ is again emphasised in education, for all Singaporean schoolchildren make the pledge of allegiance to the Singapore flag daily. They are also taught the Singaporean national anthem, which has clear signposts towards a united people: “Come, let us unite/In a new spirit/Let our voices soar as one/Onward Singapore”. An extension of education in the young population of Singapore is the implementation of National Service. It brings together all young (predominantly male) Singaporeans for one universal cause. A Ministry of Defence statement explains why national service is vital to a Singaporean multicultural identity: ‘in [the national service] they will start to love their nation, to understand social obligations and develop civic mindedness and strength of character’. After the two years of compulsory national service, the aim is to develop a sense of national patriotism and responsibility. Lee Kuan Yew set the foundations for Singapore in its infant and adolescent years, and when he died on 23rd March 2015, the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Lee’s eldest son) declared a seven-day period of national mourning in honour of this giant of the South East Asian region. He was brought to the Istana, the office and residence of the Government of Singapore, Istana meaning ‘palace’ in Malay. Lee Kuan Yew enormously improved Singapore’s economy and enhanced the standard of education a nd living. However, t hese achievements may not have been reached if he had not focused on his goal of racial amalgamation and acceptance to create an identifiable ‘Singaporean’. He was fundamental in erecting the blocks of nationbuilding, and the essence of a national identity.




THE RISE AND FALL OF CHRISTENDOM European Christianity entered the Dark Ages traumatised and fearful. The Western Roman Empire had collapsed, and the faith’s adherents were beset by Islamic incursions from the south and barbarian migrations from the east. It was during this moment of profound crisis that the Christian peoples of Western Europe huddled together in the warm embrace of ‘Christendom’. Simply put, Christendom was an attempt to defend Christianity through the fusion of secular and spiritual power, and the promotion of panChristian solidarity. To accomplish this, the Western Church forged a partnership with the most powerful of the Christianised Germanic states – the Kingdom of Francia – crowning its most successful ruler – Charlemagne – as ‘Holy Roman Emperor’ in the year 800. The Papacy intended that this new Empire would function as a bulwark of Christianity, performing the same function as the old Western Roman Empire. As this partnership between Pope and Emperor developed, Christendom evolved into a h ie r a r c h ic a l p a n- C h r i s t i a n confederation – where Europe’s princes were de jure vassals of the Holy Roman Empire, who in turn were all subordinate to the Pope on spiritual affairs. Although Charlemagne’s Empire fell apart after the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the doctrines of Papal primacy and pan-Christian unity in defence of the faith remained strong. The Middle Ages saw cooperation between Christian states to aid the Byzantine Empire during the Crusades and spread the faith east of the Elbe during the Northern Crusades. Christendom as an international order also became more zealous in policing its internal ‘enemies’– multiple European monarchs and the Pope intervened in southern France to brutally crush the Cathar heretics during the Albigensian Crusade of 1209-1229. These centuries

also saw the ascendancy of the Papacy, which forced the Emperor of the reconstituted Holy Roman Empire, Hen r y IV, to beg for his excommunication to be lifted during the 1073 Investiture Controversy, and in 1302 issued the ‘Unam Sanctum’ which designated the Pope as the sovereign of all Christian Europe. However, the first cracks in the system of Christendom would become apparent as the Middle Ages waned. This was due to the Papacy severely overplaying its hand, and destroying its own prestige as a result. Although the Pope had been able to bend the princes of Europe to his will through the threat of excommunication, this weapon started to become less effective because of its increasingly frivolous and liberal application – which reduced its severity. The Papacy’s prestige was also sapped by its internal conflicts. The ‘Western Schism’ of 1378-1417 was a particularly squalid episode where as many as three different men claimed to be the rightful Pope. The Schism disgusted the princes and common peoples of Europe, who now clamoured for sweeping reforms to the Roman Church. Meanwhile, the power of the Papacy never recovered – the Pope increasingly could not dictate terms to the princes, but had to instead negotiate with them to get his way. Thus, as the Middle Ages ended, Christendom was no longer defined by a partnership between the Holy Roman Empire (which had become decentralized and ineffectual) and the Papacy. However, the 1414 Council of Constance, which ended the Western Schism, showed that pan-Catholic sentiment remained potent, and that deviations from this orthodoxy would not be tolerated – in an ominous sign of things to come the Council attendee Jan Hus, the leader of the Bohemian Hussite heretics, was burned alive despite a promise of safe conduct. Reform fever swept Europe in the decades following the Western Schism,


but none would materialise beyond vague platitudes. In fact, the Roman Church became even more venal. It was beset by scandals over misbehaving monks and absentee bishops and – most notoriously of all – the sale of indulgences, which offered remission for sins in exchange for a sum of money. As frustration with the lack of reform mounted, ideological critiques of church practise intensified. This reform movement was essentially reactionary: it longed for a return to the purity and simplicity of the ancient Apostolic Church – free from hierarchy, worldliness and corruption. Matters came to a head in 1517 with Martin Luther’s famed nailing of his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’, which denounced the sale of indulgences, to the door of a church in Wittenberg. Luther’s pamphlet rapidly spread across Germany and generated a wave of popular sentiment against the Roman Church. Luther grew yet more radical as time passed. In a f lurry of publications in 1520, Luther argued for the doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ (which claims that forgiveness for sins is obtained through faith rather than worldly activities such as indulgences), and called for the end of Church ostentation, excessive rituals and priestly celibacy. This new extremism was to cause the final break between Luther and Rome. A Papal Bull was issued in 1520 condemning Luther as a heretic and threatening him with excommunication if he refused to recant. Luther responded by burning papal literature in front of a crowd in Wittenberg. In 1521 Luther was excommunicated, but it rapidly became clear that the concept of Christendom was no longer strong enough to enforce orthodoxy. The power of the Papacy had become too weak relative to that of the princes, and the Church was too unpopular to command the full support of the masses – Luther was protected by the Elector of Saxony and a papal legate wrote that ‘All Germany is in revolution. Nine tenths shout “Luther!” as their war-cry; and the other tenth cares nothing about Luther, and cries: “Death to the court of Rome!”’. The 1555 Peace of Augsburg, whereby the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was forced to grant legality to the new Lutheranism of many of Germany’s princes, shattered the old unity of Western Christianity by formalizing its division. Emblematic of this new age of schism was France’s alliance with the Ottoman Empire in 1536 – a betrayal of the faith that would have been unthinkable a century before. The concept of Christendom seemed to be in its death throes.



During the 1545 Council of Trent, the Papacy and various Catholic monarchs created the ‘CounterReformation’ movement, which sought to restore Christendom by reversing the Reformation. In practice, this movement was a revival of the spirit of the Albigensian Crusade – panChristian action to brutally suppress any deviation from official dogma. Because these heresies were no longer fringe movements, the level of violence needed to enforce orthodoxy skyrocketed – as many as 70,000 French Protestants were killed by Catholic mobs on St Bartholomew’s Day at the behest of the Queen. The most notorious of these attempts to restore Christendom was the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which was sparked by the Holy Roman Emperor’s attempt to forcibly catholicise Bohemia and Austria. As the conflict wore on, the Papacy and the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire planned to crush Protestantism forever by establishing a ‘Universal Monarchy’ in Europe under Habsburg rule. This would have amounted to a complete revival of Christendom: enforced religious unity with Europe’s princes being subject to the Papal-backed Holy Roman Empire. However, this conflict

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– which pitted Europe’s populations rather than mere dynasties or states against one another – led to a singularity of barbarism. Germany was depopulated by as much as a third during the years of sectarian warfare, and much of Central Europe collapsed into anarchy, falling victim to warlords such as Wallenstein, who displayed dubious loyalty to civilian government and whose troops were responsible for innumerate atrocities. The Thirty Years’ War ended in an exhausted stalemate in 1648, but the damage to the concept of Christendom was done. At the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the conflict, the princes of Europe – thoroughly disillusioned with religious war – were determined to prevent any repeat of such slaughter. To this end, the Peace affirmed the legal equality of every independent European state and established the prince’s absolute sovereignty over the domestic affairs of their states – with the proviso that a prince could not compel his subjects to convert. Westphalia finished off what was left of Christendom – the pan-European enforcement of religious unity had been replaced with national sovereignty, and hierarchy had given way to the legal equality of nations. Nothing demonstrated the death of Christendom more than the reception


of the Pope at Westphalia: his opposition to toleration for Protestants was universally ignored out of disgust. The death of Christendom brought Europe a century of relative tranquillity. Post-Westphalia conflicts were based primarily on the self-interest of European monarchs rather than ideology, which put a ceiling on the level of depravity that war entailed. Atrocities were much less likely to be committed against the subjects of a rival dynasty than despised heretics. Christendom, the unity of the Christian world through solidarity, hierarchy and religious orthodoxy – had ideologically and politically dominated Europe for centuries. However, the pillars of this order – namely the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, fell into disrepair as the Middle Ages ended. Christendom was dealt a further body blow after the Reformation shattered the unity of Western Christianity. The CounterReformation, a gambit to restore this earlier order, so spectacularly discredited itself through the barbarism of the Thirty Years’ War that the concept of Christendom was finished off for good. International relations in Europe (at least until the French Revolution) would subsequently be based on cynical self-interest, which in practise was a far more humane system than Christendom.




200 YEARS OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN SCOTLAND: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE? On the 29 October this year, the Edinburgh Jewish Dialogue, an organisation founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting Jewish history in Scotland and the future of the Jewry in Scotland, held the Jewish Life - Past, Present and Future event at Summerhall. The event sought to both display the Jewish community’s religious life but also its contribution to Scottish society over the two hundred years of their presence. Whilst the Jewish population has always been small in relation to its surrounding population, the impact this community has had on Scotland’s social, cultural, and medical history should not be understated. However it must be noted that, despite the significant contribution of the Jewish community in Scotland, very little historiography exists on Jewish communities and, the majority of these sources have been written by Jewish scholars themselves. One of the most significant of the Jewish communities in Scotland was that of the Gorbals, which had the largest Jewish population in Scotland and fourth largest in mainland Britain after London, Manchester and Leeds. This article hopes to explore the origins of the Jewish community in Scotland, but with a focus on their settlement in the Gorbals in Glasgow. It will shed light on the experiences of the tightknit Gorbals Jewish community and, their contribution to the fabric of Glasgow’s trades, professions, and medical institutions. Finally, it is important to reflect on the future of the Jewish community in Scotland. Origins and the search for refuge: Firstly, we must explore why Scotland, and specifically Glasgow, experienced an influx of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. During the nineteenth century, Glasgow had gained the

reputation of being the British Empire’s ‘Second City’ due to its rapid industrial and commercial expansion. This reputation was reflected in a sudden population explosion as more people migrated to the city to try to benefit from its industrial success. Newcomers to Glasgow came from the likes of Ireland, Italy, the Highlands and, of course, a Jewish diaspora from Eastern Europe. The Gorbals at this time was known to be prosperous, most likely due to its location to the south of the River Clyde, and was the main destination for newcomers hoping to set up new lives in the city. However, the Eastern European Jews did not all migrate to Glasgow solely due to Glasgow’s economic and industrial reputation. From the mid-nineteenth century it was clear that political tension and antisemitism in both Central and Eastern Europe were high. Large-scale anti-Jewish pogroms took place across the Russian Empire from the beginning of the nineteenth century following their assumption of the power of Polish and Lithuanian territories. Tensions came to a head when Tsar Alexander II’s assassination in February 1880 was blamed on the Jewish communities of the Pale Settlements, resulting in the Russian press encouraging movements against the Jews. This anti-Semitic attitude, alongside poor economic circumstances in Russia at the time, resulted in the Jews becoming targets of pogrom. By 1881, it was estimated that the Jewish population of the Gorbals was made up mostly of Polish and Russian Jews who had fled Eastern Europe. It is also important to note that the majority of Jewish population growth in the Gorbals took place in the early 1890s. In 1891, there were 2,000 Jews in Glasgow, but this population had increased to 7,000 in less than a decade.

This rapid expansion came as a result of further restrictions being placed on the Jewish community in the Russian Empire. However, Glasgow was not the intended final destination of the majority of the Jewish community who ended up living there. Many of the Jewish community had originally planned to travel from Glasgow to North America where they hoped to set up successful lives on the ‘land where the streets were paved with gold.’ Yet due to the strict health regulations which restricted access to America for individuals deemed physically unfit or too sick to enter the States, many were unable to make the onward journey. Meanwhile, others were scammed or tricked into thinking they had bought tickets into America, either due to language barriers or being told by the shipping companies that they had landed in America when, in reality, it was actually Leith, Edinburgh. Therefore, not all the Eastern European Jews who travelled were able to reach their intended goal. In fact, many settled where their families had arrived previously and established themselves in businesses. This consequently resulted in both the growth of a visible Jewish community in the Gorbals, and also in their contribution to Gorbals life. ‘Tight-knit Community’ The Gorbals Jewish community became well known for its identifiable presence on its streets. With the Jewish community came the Jewish butchers selling kosher meat, bakers selling Jewish breads and cakes, and grocers with barrels of herring fish at their doors. The growing Jewish community led to a growing demand to build synagogues to accommodate their



needs. In 1892, the Main Street Synagogue was opened in the Gorbals. Many oral testimonies and written memoirs about growing up in the Gorbals within the Jewish community reflected nostalgically on the freedom they had to practice their religion publicly. Chaim Bermant remembered being able to walk down the streets and hear the sound of Yiddish on the streets, and seeing signs for shops with writing in Hebrew. Yiddish, one of the most common Jewish languages from the 1850s until the early-twentieth century, played an important role in Glasgow’s Jewish community and helped to form and maintain a shared sense of religious identity in a foreign land where Judaism was not a common religion. Many Jewish traders and merchants set up businesses in trades such as furniture manufacturing, cigarette making and tailoring. Whilst they were reputed for their contributions to Glasgow’s industrial success and their good work ethic, there were accusations of sweat labour, however these were dismissed after the community came together to dispute the claims. What cannot be disputed was that the Jewish contribution to these industries aided the rapid development of these industries in Glasgow and contributed to Glasgow’s overall industrial success in the latenineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Arguably the most significant contribution of the Jewish community was its medical contribution. Many young Jewish men entered the medical profession and studied medical degrees, the first known Jewish medicine student was Dr Asher, who was but one of many Jewish doctors in Glasgow. The Jewish community were known for their ‘obsession’ with health, one that had been exasperated when they were prevented from continuing their journey to America due to poor health. The Jewish community pulled together and formed self-sufficient medical societies a nd phila nt h ropic organisations in order to provide medical assistance to new arrivals and the existing Glasgow community. It was seen as a form of ‘coping strategy’ for the Jewish community, with the aim of assisting integration into Glasgow but also as a way to ensure that their community in the Gorbals were healthy. The Jewish community took pride in its self-sufficiency and higher standards of living compared to other migrant groups in the Gorbals, such

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as those from the Highlands and Ireland. Inspections of the Gorbals revealed that diseases associated with Glasgow were less evident in the Jewish streets, and this influenced social and medical intervention across Glasgow. Overall, they had better health and hygiene conditions than other communities within Glasgow at this time. The medical contribution of the Gorba ls Jews a longside t he establishment of Jewish businesses and specialist Jewish shops indicated both the growing presence of the Jewish community in the Gorbals, but also its self-sufficient nature within an area known for its slum-conditions, and as a hub for many immigrant groups. This contribution to Glasgow’s industrial and medical history is something that the Jewish community were, and continue to be, very proud of. Jewish Present and Future? The Jewish community in Glasgow and all across Scotland has received little attention historically, and with popu lation numbers fa lling, synagogues closing and society overall becoming more secularised throughout history, it may seem realistic to see the future for the Jewish community as a bleak one. However, what the Jewish Lives - Past, Present and Future event hit home was that, even with the closure of synagogues and a less visible Jewish presence in society today, the community still lives on across Scotland. The event was attended by Jews of all ages and all backgrounds, coming together to eat Jewish food, sing songs in Yiddish and Hebrew, and telling folklore stories passed down to them for generations. What I found was a community which is very much alive today, even if it is more spread out across the country and no longer in its Gorbals base, and a community with an optimistic view of its future. In today’s society, what were physical communities have the power to live all over the world and come together in online communities where they can share their religion and traditions in a way previously impossible. I believe that, with the continued transmission of its history and the teachings of the present the Jewish community will continue to flourish in the future.






The word ‘Turk’ in early modern Venice was redolent with meaning that went beyond a label of national identity: it encompassed religion, dress, habits and supposed character traits. The term ‘turning Turk’ was synonymous with conversion to Islam and it was the outward manifestations of this conversion – the assuming of dress and habits – which signified the transformation from one religious identity to another. ‘Turkish’ habits and behaviour became an area of particular concern for authorities when commercial and social ties involved Christians and Turks frequenting each other’s houses, sharing meals and sleeping in the same vicinity. Nevertheless, networks between Turkish, Venetian and Levantine Jewish merchants were essential in maintaining commercial links between Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Eric Dursteler has analysed early modern Mediterranean identity as a fluid and mutable concept, a world in which many layers of identity could define a person and likewise give the ability to transform oneself through language, dress, religion or occupation. However, individual identity should not be overstated, individuals were seen as part of a group either through their trade, religion or place of origin and it was in this capacity that social net work s emerge f rom t he documentary records. Until the institution of a residence (known as the Fondaco dei Turchi) for all Turkish Ottomans in 1621, shared space was an important form of networking for Turkish merchants living in Venice as they maintained important networks in the houses of Venetian landlords. Many Turkish merchants, for example, resided in




landlord Marc Antonio Barbaro’s house in Canareggio which gave them access to his Venetian merchant networks and proximity to the Jewish ghetto where many of their Levantine Jewish contacts would have resided. Inquisition records are particularly pertinent in demonstrating how contact between proprietors and Turkish and Venetian tenants led to shared social activities and the creation of networks. A significant example of this is the ‘Giorgio’ case in 1573, set in the household of a Venetian landlord, where the young slave Giorgio was investigated for fraternising with the Turks in his planned escape from Venice. This fascinating case reveals not only the links forged betw een landlords and their tenants but also the kind of social contact which most concerned the Venetian authorities. Sharing food, for example, was an act which demonstrated an almost dangerous level of familiarity; not simply because it was a symbol of friendship and cordiality, but also because it could involve serious religious transgressions. The inquisitor in Giorgio’s case was particularly keen to investigate the extent of intimacy between Giorgio and the Turks asking whether Giorgio had ‘slept with this Turk or others’, and what kinds of food he had shared with them. As scholars, such as Peter Scholliers, have investigated, eating food could be a symbolic act invested with religious, political and social significance. The act of eating meat with the Turks on days of fasting was considered a transgression as it flouted Christian observances and could lead to a dangerous obscuring of boundaries. Proximity and participation in social diversions such as eating, drinking and dancing, therefore involved an exchange of cultural customs which had the potential to blur religious and cultural identity. Although shared living space helped forge contacts between Venetians and Turks, commercial activity was perhaps the most essential facilitator of networking and marker of identity since it was the immigrant merchants’ primary priority in Venice. The proliferation of mercantile networks between Turks, Venetians, and Jews is illustrated in the authorities’ many attempts to curtail merchant relationships which circumvented the official channels of regulated trade. Cavalier Procurator, Agostino Nanni’s letter of 1601 disparagingly commented that Venetian merchant ships were entering and leaving Venice laden with undeclared Turkish merchants’ goods. He then sent a dispatch to the Senate which named specific Turkish

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merchants involved in trade partnerships with Venetians and condemned these partnerships as illegitimate and dangerous. Although friendships between Turkish and Venetian merchants were permitted and Turkish trade was highly valued, mercantile relationships seemed to pose a financial threat as they diverted revenue from Venetian authorities. The concern which Venetian authorities expressed over these partnerships implies that they were a common feature of mercantile networks between immigrants and Venetians. Moreover, these relationships and the issue of Turkish merchants acting on their own outside the confines of the designated space or regulated brokered deals appeared to persist well beyond the establishment of the Fondaco dei Turchi and the authorities’ repeated declarations forbidding such activities. One of the most valuable, yet concomitantly suspicious, figures in forming networks between merchant communities was the middleman. Mediators, or middlemen, came in a variety of forms. Some were merely merchants who had made contacts between the Levantine and Venetian trading circles – these intermediaries could often be Levantine Jews who were now established in Venice and thus familiar with both worlds of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. The most common mediator was the professional broker, who could come from a Venetian, Turkish, Greek or other background, and would speak both Turkish and Italian. Another form of mediator was the dragoman who was most often an appointed Venetian with knowledge of both languages. The dragoman was not usually involved in everyday market transactions but operated in larger affairs such as the supervision of goods travelling between the Levant and Venice and translating important requests on behalf of the merchants or the Senate. They were important mediators in serious matters such as imprisonment, kidnapping, and murder and made recommendations to the Venetian Senate about the regulation of the Turkish community. The relationships formed between these intermediaries and the two communities were complex and viewed with ambivalence by merchants and authorities alike. However, there was clearly room for positive and useful networking which might benefit both parties. This was evident in the case of broker Francesco de Dimitri Lettino, using his commercial network to provide accommodation to Turkish merchants (and refuge to slaves) and simultaneously generating revenue


and extending his network. Whilst the dragoman was politically aligned with Venice, they could act on behalf of Turkish merchants and intercede for them in serious cases. Moreover, the Venetian authorities’ decision to train more dragomen and brokers was made in direct response to the growing demand from Turkish merchants. In considering the status of the Turkish merchant in Venice, it is important to analyse their group identity in the eyes of the authorities and the nature of networks between Turkish merchants themselves. The ‘Turkish’ merchants were a varied group from different regions of the Ottoman Empire – right from the Balkans through to the Middle East. Despite the wide-ranging origins of many different Ottoman merchants, if they were Muslim they were all categorized under the label of ‘Turk’ for the purpose of regulation by the authorities. As has already been mentioned, the word ‘Turk’ was often conflated with Islam since the Turkish merchants were the most prominent representation of Islamic identity in Venice. The term used for conversion to Islam was ‘turning Turk’ and mere contact with Turks entailed the dangerous potential of switching allegiance and identity. The way that Turkish merchants were referred in archival records is an indicator of how they were viewed by Venetians, since the notary would, knowingly or unknowingly, use words which revealed their attitude towards the Turks. Disputes between Turkish and Venetian merchants always referred to the Venetian merchant by name and the Turkish merchant sometimes simply as ‘the Turk’. Whilst it is true that individual identity should not be overstated in the early modern period, the status and wealth of the contestants concerned could be brought to bear on the decision made in their dispute. Wealth and reputation were important factors and the decision to leave a Turkish merchant’s identity obscure could have made their position somewhat equivocal. Even if this was an unconscious decision, it implies that Turkish merchants were viewed as a homogenous ‘other’, a foreign group whose individual identities remained obscure or unimportant to Venetians beneath the paraphernalia of their otherness such as dress, language, and religion. In conclusion, networking between Turkish and Venetian merchants was bound up in the identities of trade, religion, and customs. Some of these networks and identities were defined by the Venetian authorities, such as


the separation of Muslim and Christian space in Venice, and the imposition of Venetian mediators in disputes or transactions. Turkish merchants were sometimes able to use their contacts to circumnavigate the boundaries of identity and thus engage in profitable trade networks on their own terms. However, due to moral and economic concerns, the authorities increasingly attempted to curtail and regulate these networks. For the purposes of Venetian society, the ‘Turks’ were represented as a defined outsider group, whose dangerous religious identity needed to be confined and separated from Christians. For the purposes of trade and cordial relations with the Ottoman Empire, distinctions and varying needs between different groups of Turks were recognised and accommodated. Therefore, it is evident that the Venetian authorities embraced a paradoxical attitude towards Turkish networking and identity which allowed them to maintain the status of immigrant merchants as valuable yet separate to Venetian society. Allowances for friendships and certain types of networking maintained the Republic’s vital appearance of tolerance for immigrant trade, whilst regulating boundaries and contact between the Turkish and Venetians appeased moral concerns.

TAMSIN PRIDEAUX Adaptation from its original form as the final chapter of a dissertation

The Miracle of the Cross at San Lorenzo Bridge. Gentile Bellini, 1500




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REMEMBERING THE ‘TRUTH’ Rigoberta Menchú left Central America in 1982 at the age of twentythree and settled in Paris. Her memories were published in Elizabeth Burgos’s biography, titled Rigoberta Menchú. Burgos’s biography compiled Menchú’s memories of the oppressive and exploitative regime she escaped from. As a young woman of the indigenous Quiché Mayan people of Guatemala, Menchú remembered being sent to the fincas as a young girl. This was common to all poor indigenous communities. They would work in coffee and cotton plantations for little wages and racking up debt in the cantinas. The biography recalls Menchú’s decision to leave her family home to help other young women in communities that spoke alien dialects and participate in the guerrilla. The narrative reaches its climax with the barbaric execution of her brother Petrocinio before her own eyes. The book’s description of Petrocinio’s deat h cau sed a pa r t ic u l a r historiographical issue for US anthropologist David Stoll. Stoll applied a comparative method on various sources in search for the ‘less likely’ scenario of Petrocinio’s death at Chajul, and finally found inconsistencies within Rigoberta’s account. Rigoberta recalled how her brother was burned alive in the Plaza of Chajul, but Stoll found quizzical responses after interviewing locals. Stoll’s interviewees stated that Petrocinio’s body was dressed in green, alongside several other bodies, and then dumped and armed before being burned with gasoline. The army rejected ownership of the acts and claimed that the guerrillas were the ones who had burned Rigoberta’s brother. Stoll asserts that Rigoberta did not even witness the act, that it was her mother who saw what really happened. Additionally, Stoll claims that nobody even identified the body! David Stoll highlights an important aspect of any historical discourse: Sources should consistently be questioned, especially within contexts of heightened political and social conflict such as the one Rigoberta and

her family were involved. Furthermore, due to individual testimonies’ complexity, historians should carefully examine the objective and subjective nuances in the ‘truth’. Rigoberta’s narrative displays one version of the ‘truth’, composed of facts, feelings, memories and perceptions, and historians must consider what this is and what implications it has for the discourse of historical memory. Stoll neglects to consider how Rigoberta’s testimony is perhaps more than just that of an individual. Looking beyond the lens of North Atlantic cultural constructions, oral narratives and storytelling have been at the heart of how history has been composed and shared by a myriad of peoples. Rigoberta recollects the horror of watching the death of a loved one, an experience shared by hundreds of Guatemalans during the genocide of Mayan peoples, therefore providing a testimony for the wider community and blurring the line between the individual and the collective. This relates to the purpose of Rigoberta’s testimony, which David Stoll similarly disregards. Having left Guatemala and then Mexico for Paris, Rigoberta published her testimony for public consumption. The function of such a book was to disseminate awareness of the atrocities being committed by the State in Guatemala, calling for worldwide human rights authorities’ involvement. Rigoberta’s secret political agenda explains Burgos’s successful efforts to embellish Rigoberta’s memories and emphasise her witness voice. In fact, Rigoberta’s account becomes more ‘credible’ to a reader given the weight placed on eyewitness testimony that has grown within the familiar Western legal judicial systems. The Eichmann Trial beginning in 1961 in Jerusalem is noted for its heavy use of eyewitness testimony from Jewish Holocaust survivors to convict Adolf Eichmann of crimes against humanity. This Trial illustrates how collective memories are located within a series of individuals, and can be called

upon to create a narrative of a group experience, especially one of trauma. It also emphasises the importance of witnesses. I wonder what are the problems in Stoll’s disagreement with Menchú’s account of the events. Does a disparity between facts and witness testimonies demean the value of witness testimonies or the value of historiographical research? And what are the repercussions for what we understand as the ‘truth’? The benefits of objective and factual information are undoubtedly crucial in dictating judicial sentences. Likewise, histories are analysed to aid the answering of questions about human behaviour and more accurate evidence can make for what is considered more validated conclusions. Yet subjectivity can arguably have its own value, and oral testimony exemplifies the ways in which psychological explanations for human actions are found through selected information (both given and hidden) by witnesses. Returning to Rigoberta’s narrative and considering the purpose and context from which it was constructed, perhaps this alleviates the doubt cast on the reality of the experiences she describes and gives value to what she constructed as well as that that she neglected. No source can be exempt from subjectivity of some form – David Stoll’s work seems to reflect itself as an anti-leftist and guerrilla sentiment, both of which conflict with the involvement of Rigoberta in the EGP (Guerrilla Army of the Poor) in Guatemala. The alterations to her lived experience do not remove the validity of an experience in which Rigoberta posits herself, an individual, within the collective experience of oppression and exploitation faced by the Mayan population. This does not mean that a single testimony can provide all the information to construct a meaningful picture of an event. Rigoberta’s testimony provides the perspective of a Guatemalan woman within the revolutionary movement but questions remain over the motivations and beliefs of military personnel, those


not involved with guerrillas, and also people from different social positions. Considering the competing collective truths such as that of a significant proportion of the Guatemalan population which conflicts with that of the State, is there a way in which they could be reconciled? Can this reconciliation include a ‘historical truth’? While neither Rigoberta’s testimony alone nor Stoll’s critique offer a means to bring together conflicting truths, Steve Stern provides a thoughtprovoking path for the historian alongside collective and individual memory. Stern suggests a space within which to consider multiple individual testimonies together, not to compare them against each other in a bid for ‘the objective truth’, but instead to acknowledge these different facets of information and meaning that contribute to a wider understanding of an event or history. Thus, the diversity of the truth requires the historian to approach collective memories with multiple resources, apart from witnesses’ testimonies.





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THE IMPACT OF AENEAS AND HEKTOR ON THEIR COMMUNITIES Within two of the most famous literary works of antiquity, the Aeneid and the Iliad, are two particularly well-known individuals who resonated amongst the classical world as heroes, just as they do today, Aeneas and Hektor. Aeneas holds the fate of founding a new city and a new race as Virgil’s epic takes us through his journey of doing so. Hektor is presented as an admirable hero in the way he stands against Achilles and dies in glory in Homer’s Iliad. Both heroes are individuals who aspired to create a better society and fought for the community to which they belonged. Two individuals who achieved so much for their greater community: one gave birth to the city that will be the foundation upon which Italy is built, and the other defended the Trojans against the Greeks by sacrificing his own own life. This forces us to reflect upon the impact of individuals on wider communities and to contemplate the importance of this. Aeneas is considered to be an inspiring and admirable individual because he is successful in his quest to found Rome, and because he suffers greatly in doing so. Aeneas is the son of Venus and was chosen as the one to build a new city. This alone suggests that he is highly regarded by the gods as a good leader, and an individual worthy of completing this monstrous and dangerous task. Aeneas’ piety towards the gods, as shown through the purifications and sacrifices he makes to the deities, works in his favour as they regard him as a worthy individual. Aeneas is also greatly admired for his selflessness, and is often called ‘Father Aeneas’ which reflects Augustus’ title ‘pater patriae’. The Trojan hero is a leader who places great emphasis on his men’s needs and ensures that they are well looked after. Such an attitude is shown when he

kills seven stags for each of his ships at the beginning of the poem in Book One. His leadership is displayed through his honouring of his men when he grieves for the death of Palinurus. He also builds an altar for Misenus, who was killed by Triton for challenging a deity. This shows true friendship for his comrades and that he is respectful of their lives, honouring them in the correct ways. Thus, as an individual, Aeneas not only shows great concern and respect for his men and his community in the way he cares for them, but the very act of founding a city for the future populations also emphasises the contribution that he has on his own community and those which did not yet exist. Aeneas’ individual expertise in battle also gives him credibility as he survives many great conflicts in his quest to found Rome. These include the Trojan War, the war against the Rutulians, and the duel against Turnus in pursuit of Lavinia’s hand in marriage. Success and skill in battle is not only a trait that Aeneas has, but is also one that he utilises in order to defend and fight for his communities. During the Trojan War he fights for Troy, his home, and in the Rutulian War, he fights, firstly for his men and secondly for the establishment of Rome. This brave individual fights relentlessly for the greater good of the community around him, which places great emphasis on his nobility and the importance of such an individual on the Trojan community and what will eventually become the Roman citizenry. Hektor is perhaps a less admirable hero, as he occasionally regards himself as an individual to be more important than his community. This is evident in the Iliad when he refuses to go back inside the city gates and makes his men camp outside the walls.

Consequently, when Achilles comes the next day to fight Hektor, the Trojans are obliged to fight him and cannot retreat behind the safety of the city walls. This is primarily an act of stubbornness and pride on Hektor’s part, as he could have saved his own life if he had not surrendered to his pride. Hektor seeks personal glory, which is evident through his refusal to go inside the gates despite knowing that he can, based on the chastisement he would receive from Polydamas for being responsible for the death of his men. As a result, he is not only defeated and killed by Achilles, but his camp is attacked and all the men under his control are also killed. This means he leaves behind grieving and distressed families, as well as a community for which he had been a crucial component. Hektor may be admired for his determination to fight for his men and community. The individual actively seeks battle, which is highlighted when he tells his wife, Andromache, that he has to return to battle and cannot stay with her and their son, Astyanax. This shows his commitment to his city as he risks his life to fight for it. Hektor shows great love for his family when he goes to find Andromache and Astyanax to say goodbye to them before returning to battle. He says that he hopes his son will live to be a greater than himself and that he is only going back to fight because the Trojans need him. Aeneas shows a similar devotion to his family, as he guides his son and father away from the Trojan War and into the mountains to look after them on their journey. He also gives his father proper burial rites and funeral games after his death in Sicily and guides Ascanius along the way. In light of this, both heroes appear to be inspirational individuals who


have a great and largely positive impact on the communities they belong to. They share many similar characteristics that make them so, such as piety and love for their family. Hektor’s individuality, particularly, is admirable, as shown through his dedication to fight for his family and his city, as well as himself. Two such famous literary characters in these epic poems thus highlight the importance of such people; both as individuals who strive for success, and as part of a community for which they defend and sacrifice themselves.


‘To whom did we really belong? To whom did any of the ten thousand of us who were stranded belong? We were stuck here without our parents and there was no going back. That was out of the question. Our parents had gambled and lost, but most of them never regretted the wager.’

- Carlos Eire, ‘Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy’




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Between December 1960 and October 1962, 14,048 unaccompanied Cuban children were flown from their home country to Miami in an effort that came to be dubbed by the press as ‘Operation Peter Pan.’ Around half were immediately relocated with friends and family in the United States. For most it would be years before they would see their parents again. For a few, parent and child were never reunited. The Peter Pan children, or Pedro Pans, constituted a physical community for a relatively short amount of time, housed in temporary camps. But the community, now adults, has endured as they have struggled to come to terms with the meaning of their migration and their identities as Cuban-Americans. Many things distinguish Pedro Pans as a unique community in the United States. They are Cuban exiles, predominantly Catholic, and overwhelmingly white and middle-class. The trauma of their upheaval and parental separation has endured into adulthood, as has their political symbolic value, which has been exploited by both the US and Cuban governments. The circumstances of their exile and its Cold War context has complicated and embittered the identity, both individual and community, of Pedro Pans in the United States. In 1959 Fidel Castro’s revolution overthrew the brutal Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Middle-class support for Castro wavered in the following months, as rumours of his links to communism spread, and many fled the emerging regime. Later that year, many parents chose to send their unaccompanied children to the US.

Explaining this occurrence requires an understanding of the sense that Castro was attempting to steal them, ideologically and physically, from their families. Castro’s increasing control over schools and universities caused a n x ie t y a b o ut co m mu n i s t indoctrination among parents, which came to a head with the nationwide literacy campaign announced in September 1960, shutting schools and mobilising over 250,000 girls and boys to be sent to the countryside to teach reading and writing. With the Spanish Civil War and its recruitment of child soldiers still in living memory, parental concerns transformed into a fullyfledged panic. The US government monitored the situation, but the initial impetus for the operation came through the work Father Brian O. Walsh. Walsh headed a small welfare bureau in Miami and worked with others to arrange visas and passports for the children. He and his small team promised the US government that they would be responsible for the children. The government allowed them in and gave generously to Walsh’s Cuban Children’s Program, which worked with local agencies, charities, and churches to establish temporary camps in Miami. These became more permanent homes as the unforeseen halt on flights between Cuba and the US in 1962, tragically delayed the arrival of the children’s parents for several years. A survey by historian and Pedro Pan herself, Yvonne Conde, finds that 85 per cent of Pedro Pans believed their parents had done the right thing. Only 45 per cent, however, would have


chosen to do the same. Some, like author Roman de la Campa, believed his parents’ objection to the literacy campaign was about premature f reedom, not com mu nist indoctrination. Playwright Eduardo Machado stated: ‘they were teaching us Marxism in school… but my parents treated it like they were gassing us.’ American press coverage, dubbing the children as ‘miniature antiCommunists,’ has been blamed for deliberately stoking the fears of their parents for the sake of Cold War politics. Some believed in a deliberate CIA propaganda effort aimed at middle-class parents; Castro himself made this accusation. However, in 1999, a ruling determined that the evacuation of Cuban children was not a covert CIA operation. As students, a group of Pedro Pans sceptical of US motives returned to Cuba in 1978 and met with Castro himself. Roman de la Campa and Maria Torres remembered the emptiness of the moment; a ‘temporary sense of reunion with their homeland’ which merely viewed them as ‘political tourists.’ Grappling with these ideas has become an integral part of the experience of Pedro Pans into adulthood. Undoubtedly, Cold War politics played a part. But this does not undermine the fact that many parents believed that by sending their children away they were saving their lives. They had also believed the separation would be brief. Walsh’s motives were also undoubtedly humanitarian, but he too politicised Pedro Pans, referring to his project ‘as a race between the two great powers of the world for the minds of children.’ Walsh genuinely felt geographical separation was better than ‘permanent ideological and spiritual division.’ He was interested in protecting the Catholic faith of most of the children and - as many adult Pedro Pans feel - viewed Christianity ‘as the obvious ideological counterpoint to a communist regime.’ To his credit, as they became older, many Pedro Pans thanked Walsh for what he did. On his death in 2001, one grateful Pedro Pan even placed his visa waiver in Walsh’s casket. Pedro Pans experienced a rebirth on their arrival in Miami. Many were thrust into new homes with no possessions and often separated from friends and siblings. An estimated 83 per cent had little or no English language skills on their arrival and therefore no ability to express themselves or comprehend the world around them. Despite triumphalist Cold War rhetoric, American reception was not always welcoming, especially as it became clear that the Cuban

residency would not be temporary. In 1963, in an article in The New York Times, described the children as unwanted, disorderly and ‘noisy.’ Sympathy for America’s ‘miniature anti-communists’ seemed to have its limits. In 2013, 200 alumni of Matecumbe - one of Walsh’s temporary camps met for a class reunion and ‘marvelled at the strong bond’ they had maintained over five decades. They reminisced about the adventures and friendships made at Matecumbe. However, for others, this was a painful time better forgotten. De la Campa, in his memoir, recalled that he felt he was in a ‘prison.’ The camp’s capacity was 100, but unprecedented levels of arrivals meant 500 boys at a time were crammed into tents and sleeping on floors. An adventure for some, but for the scared and lonely boys who were missing their families it constituted a nightmare. Those who eventually left the camps for foster families were said to have had a ‘double exile’ from the Cuban environment of the camps. The experiences of children varied depending on age, gender, placement, and luck, which determined whether they would encounter kindness or cruelty in their new homes and schools. In late September 1965, the Cuban government announced that those with relatives residing in the United States would finally be free to leave – parent and child could be reunited. Although a dream come true for most children, reunion with parents was often ‘strange and difficult’ and did not automatically heal the wounds and trauma of their exile. The family home, broken by years of separation, could not easily be reconstructed in the United States. Elly Chovel, the founder of the Operation Pedro Pan Group, recalled the disturbing reality that her parents wanted to continue as if nothing had happened. Younger children who accustomed quickly to a different environment sometimes found an unwelcome cultural rift upon reunion. Likewise, some older children felt as if they had been forced to become adults during the time spent apart and could not be ‘the children their parents wanted them to be.’ As Pedro Pans grew, some questioned the motives of their parents in sending them away, condemning the church and the US Government for using them as pawns in a propaganda warfare against Communism. Others lauded parents’ sacrifice in choosing to pay the price of separation to provide them with freedom, thanking the United States for its sanctuary and hospitality. However, the desire of


Pedro Pans to understand their history, especially as they have grown older, has not been confined to Cold War politics. A plethora of writing including academic, psychological, and sociological studies, as well as memoirs, novels, plays, music, and art - is a testament to the complex and continuous process of identity and memory formation in this community. Maria Torres claims that ‘by coming to terms with the past, I was able to situate myself in the present.’ This is not to imply that the Pedro Pan exodus is a story with a conclusion; the nature of exile does not allow for such reconciliation. Pedro Pans are now adults and live all over the United States. Many have tried to come to terms with the meaning of their exodus as individuals and part of a community. While the meaning and memory of Operation Pedro Pan may still be painful and contested, it endures. Next month, the Operation Pedro Pan Group will host a mass memorial for Father Bryan O. Walsh. Pedro Pans, fully grown and from all over the country, will gather in Miami to remember Walsh and reflect on the meaning of his actions. Their exodus reverberates in the context of their present, as they continue to answer the question thrust on them as children fifty years ago: ‘To whom do we really belong?’




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1990S AFRICA AND THE LIMITS OF COMMUNITY During the 1990s national and community identities drastically shifted across the world. National resurgence was shown in a variety of ways ranging from the peaceful referendums on Quebec’s independence and the creation of a Scottish parliament in 1995 and 1997 respectively, to the bloody genocides in the Balkans following the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Africa too saw the reshaping of community. For example, a more inclusive community was created in South Africa following the first multiracial election in 1994 formally ending Apartheid, but in other areas, this change became increasingly exclusive. European powers at the 1884 Berlin Conference carved Africa between themselves disregarding ethnic, linguistic and religious groups and initiated divide-and-rule policies in the colonised regions. The legacies of this are still felt today. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the end of the Cold War, and the IMF’s adoption of neoliberal and free market ideologies caused dramatic changes in Africa, and the world, which brought ideas of identity and community into question. In particular, this article will focus on Rwanda, Nigeria, and Somalia showing the shifts in communal identity in these regions. The Rwandan Genocide is perhaps the most infamous post-war genocide, costing the lives of up to a million people in a month-long massacre. Before colonial rule, the idea of ‘Tutsis’ and ‘Hutus’ were class distinctions, but the arrival of German and later Belgian colonisers had made this distinction firmly racial. In 1916, Belgian colonial authorities handed out identity cards making someone either a Hutu or Tutsi with the Tutsis in a dominant role. Years later this would lead to moderate Hutus; the Tutsi and Twa populations were murdered en masse in 1994 although it was not the first episode of ethnic violence to strike the ‘land of a


thousand hills’. During the Rwandan Revolution – the uprising to overthrow the Tutsi monarchy and Belgian rule – 130,000 Tutsis fled abroad where exiles formed insurgent groups called inyenzi (cockroaches) to raid Rwanda. This led the new president, Grégoire Kayibanda, to seek reprisal on the Tutsi community with the World Council of Churches estimating that 10,000 were killed by the end of 1962. The fear of Tutsis increased when a Tutsi extremist seized power via a military coup in neighbouring Burundi in 1965, causing the massacre of 200,000 and another 200,000 fleeing to Rwanda. For thirty years Tutsis and Twa faced discrimination which reached fever pitch in the 1990s. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had been formed in exile mostly by Tutsis and invaded Rwanda in 1990, ostensibly to allow exiled Tutsis (and political exiles) to return home and to potentially end the one-party rule of President Habyarimana, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. Under French pressure, Habyarimana had been softening his hard-line stance towards multi-party democracy allowing newly forming Hutu opposition groups, like the Social Democratic Party (PSD), to court the RPF. The fighting led to the signing of the Arusha Accords in 1993 which aimed to create a coalition government with Habyarimana’s Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Dévelopment (MRND), the RPF and other opposition parties. Hutus were also allowed to remain in power, being the largest ethnic group. 60 per cent of upper ranks in the army were given to Hutus. However, the limits of community in Rwanda were shown. ‘Hutu Power’ had become a dominant force in Rwandan society and viewed the Arusha Accords as a betrayal. They viewed it as giving too much to Tutsis who they conceived as traitors and not even human. The Coalition pour le Défence de la Republique (CDR) and the militia Impuzamugambi were formed with the aim to ‘rid’ Rwanda of Tutsis, Twa and Hutu ibyitso. Editor of the paper Kangura, Hassan Ngeze, laid out ‘The Hutu Ten Commandments’ calling out any Hutu who worked with, married, or were friends with a ‘traitor’, and stating that only Hutus should have positions in government, administration, and the army. Meanwhile, 500,000 machetes were being imported into Rwanda to initiate genocide. On 8 April 1994 Habyarimana and the new president of Burundi were killed when their plane was shot down over Kigali, possibly by Hutu Power ideologues, which initiated the genocide. Willingly or not neighbours killed neighbours, husbands killed

The Hutu Revolution




wives, and families tore each other apart. For example, several Tutsi pastors wrote to the church president in Mugonero asking for help and received the reply, ‘There is nothing that I can do for you. All you can do is prepare to die, for your time has come.’ The fear of different communities overshadowed familial, communal and even religious links. Only when the RPF captured Kigali did the genocide stop. Like Rwanda, Nigeria has been unable to create a united national community in the same way that Tanzania or Botswana has. Unlike Ghana, Tanganyika or India, which mostly had one independence movement, what would become Nigeria had several. The British conquest of Nigeria was through ‘colonial violence and metropolitan arbitrariness’ where their divide-and-rule policies were most dramatically seen. The north was given autonomy due to fierce resistance from the Sokoto Caliphate with an autarkic economy; the west had a cocoa cashcrop economy dependent on foreign markets, and the east had intense British economic penetration with market firms dominating the region. After independence in 1960, Nigeria’s fledgling system was beset by problems of identity. The three main parties were split along regional, and by default, ethnic and religious lines. In 1967 this led to the secession of Biafra, who feared northern domination following several coups and countercoups in a civil war made infamous by images of the famine which it caused. In 1999 an elected civilian government returned following over twenty years of military rule, excluding a brief five year period of elected civilian rule, with seemingly bright prospects. However, the changing government brought uncertainty with it. The new constitution left many regional groups feeling unrepresented and the new president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was accused of showing favouritism towards his own ethnic group, the Yoruba. Figures pointed out t he fact t hat Nigeria n Telecommunications, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company were at one point run by Yoruba under Obasanjo. Across Nigeria, new ethnic and religious groups have formed in response to state corruption or underrepresentation. The Igbo People’s Congress in the early 2000s started flying the Biafran flag and most disturbing was the rise of the terrorist group Boko Haram in the north. Somalia is a unique case. Unlike Rwanda and Nigeria, Somalia had a

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very strong sense of national identity upon independence– possessing a strong communal identity based on a shared culture. In 1969 a military coup brought to power Mohammad Siyad Barre who proclaimed Somalia to be a Marxist republic. However, he made a mistake by invading Ogaden, a region in Ethiopia populated largely by Somalis, as the USSR switched to supporting Ethiopia. Revolutionary groups, many of them Marxist, rose up to oppose Barre and the US stopped sending funds to Somalia in 1988. Facing this bleak situation, the army split into factions. Guerrilla groups took control of Somalia’s regions, and Barre became a glorified Mayor of Somalia. Following the failed US-led UN mission, glamorised in ‘Black Hawk Down’, Somalia became a failed state. To this day Somalia still lacks a true central government. However, although the national government failed people created their own local communities. For centuries Somalia has had a strong clan-family society which Somali scholar Ioan Lewis described as: ‘No other bond of mutual interest had so many far-reaching ramifications in all aspects of private and public life.’ As argued by Stephen Ellis, the collapse of the state caused people to turn to clans to recreate the community. Although this has contributed to the rise of the militant group Al-Shabaab it has allowed the people of Somalia to continue to have a community. Colonial rule failed to destroy the Somali clan system which has prevented a total collapse of society. Rwanda, Nigeria, and Somalia faced dramatic changes in their societies in t he 1990s fol lowing eit her democratisation or the collapse of the state, changing the idea of the community. Each case highlights the legacies of colonial rule on these societies – Somalia relied on traditional clan ties which were not destroyed by colonial rule, while Nigeria and Rwanda saw ethnic conflict caused by the legacy of European divide-andrule policies. Like the challenges to community shown throughout the rest of the world in the 1990s, challenges to community in Africa were shaped by legacies of the past.





THOMAS PAINE: THE GREATEST REBEL ‘Despots may howl and yell, Though they’re in league with hell, They’ll not reign long; Satan may lead the van, And do the worst he can, Paine and his ‘Rights of Man’ Shall be my song.’ So reads the final verse of the radical Joseph Mather’s parodic song of 1791, intended to be sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King.’ It celebrates Thomas Paine’s achievements and execrates the oppressive status quo within Britain at that time. It is a measure of the influence that Paine had on fellow radicals, and it also shows the influence religious nonconformist thought had on political radicals of the time, from which Paine was not exempt. He was the most widely read rebel of his time, although he is now, in many ways, forgotten. I want to look at Paine’s career, influences and legacy in this essay and indicate the relevance his life and work have today. As Gregory Claeys has put it: ‘the age of Paine has barely begun.’ Paine was born in Thetford, Norfolk to humble beginnings. He spent much time in London, where he met Benjamin Franklin, who provided him with a letter of recommendation when he sailed for America. His life before 1774 was one of failure and despair – his first wife and child died, his second marriage failed and he lost his job and tobacco business. There was almost nothing to indicate that this man would soon be loved and hated on both sides of the Atlantic. Before leaving Britain, he was disgusted by the revelation of the brutality and corruption of the East India Company’s colonialism and the British state’s complicity in it. The rest of Paine’s biography is much

better known. Having arrived in America, Paine settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the most radical cities in the colonies. He began a career in journalism, advocating for the abolition of slavery and for state assistance to help freed slaves build their lives, rather than being abandoned by the state. This is, perhaps, one of the earliest conceptions and arguments for reparations, a debate which still rages today in America. In 1776, he published his great work Common Sense, which was a bestseller and arguably launched the American independence movement in earnest. Throughout the Revolutionary War, he wrote essays to inspire the soldiers and to comment on matters of politics after independence was won, amongst other things. In 1787, he set off for Europe, became involved in the French Revolution, and he published a riposte to Edmund Burke’s critical Reflections on the Revolution in France. He was outlawed in Britain for his trouble, before being imprisoned and nearly executed by the Jacobins in France, and finally he returned to America in 1802, reviled by most of his former comrades for his supposedly atheistic work The Age of Reason and his presumed Jacobinism. He died in ignominy in 1809, with only six attendees at his funeral – two of whom were black, and were most likely freedmen. Paine clearly had an adventurous life as the world’s first international

revolutionary. In America and France, he was actively involved in revolutionary politics, and he did his best to inspire revolution in Britain and Ireland too. It is one of those tragic twists of fate that he died as a hated man when a few decades before he had been the hero of revolutionary America. In fact, he was probably the first person to use the phrase ‘United States of America’. One of the only old friends who stuck by him in the times that tried his soul, was Thomas Jefferson. Nonetheless, Paine’s influence cannot be understated. He inspired a new political mindset in all people – not just the elites, but the common man too. In short, our modern view of the nature of politics – the centrality of democracy, human rights, social justice – stem from the work of Paine, who elucidated, analysed and introduced these ideas to a mass audience. Paine’s first major work, Common Sense, arguing for the need for the States to separate from Britain, is a political masterpiece. The language is unassuming but strong and pugilistic as well as eminently rational – this was the legacy of the Enlightenment which informed all of his work. In Common Sense, he stated: ‘In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense…’ This was a declaration of the power of reason over prejudice. He execrated the ‘prejudice of Englishmen’ and insisted on the opening of minds to a rational



conception of politics, based on the primacy of human experience and freedom. He tore apart the principles of hereditary monarchy and the English constitution (the sceptical Deist ironically making heavy use of Biblical authority), and forcefully stated that ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ Here were the beginnings of an inter nat iona list u niversa list revolutionary ideology. He was patriotic, but not a chauvinist. He believed all the world could be inspired and share in the fruits of the American project – democracy and freedom from monarchical despotism was available to all, and Paine declared himself a citizen of the world rather than a citizen of one nation. Thus the ‘crowned ruffians’ (as Paine called kings) had been dealt a blow. Back in Europe, Paine’s Rights of Man (1791-2), a counter-attack on Burke, declared to all the world of the beauty and importance of the French Revolution. In this work, Paine outlined his influential theories of natural and civil rights and society’s relation to government (which he had first broached in Common Sense), arguing that the freedom of the people was a prerequisite for a harmonious, prospering nation. He attacked the monarchical penchant for war, defended France, and, in part two, outlined radical proposals for a welfare state based upon the redistribution of wealth. Again, we see the relevance to the modern world – concerns over the conflicts between liberty and equality, the futility of war and issues of human rights are still with us today. Paine proposed in Agrarian Justice (1797) even more radical notions of redistributing wealth. As Christopher Hitchens states, he would most likely not have been a socialist, believing strongly in property rights. Nonetheless, his concern for supporting the poor and his anticipation of modern social democracy is remarkable. Finally, Paine’s Age of Reason (17945) secured his legacy for freethinkers. Raised in the Quaker tradition, he became a Deist, and believed in the benevolence of religion for all of his life, but he saw the problems with organised religion and attacked the view that the Bible was truly divine. Though this made him a ‘filthy little atheist’ – as Theodore Roosevelt once called him – to many, he was, in fact, reasserting the importance of God against the dangers of the atheism he saw in French revolutionary politics. Paine also wanted to defend his conception of a true and beautiful God, against the desecration of the

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divine he believed inherent in dogmatic religion. Thus, like Franklin, he was a humanist at core and Age of Reason has made Paine influential among secularists of all stripes since its publication. How do we assess Paine’s legacy now? Though he was somewhat dismissed by socialists in the nineteenth century and maligned by conservative Americans of his own time and since, Paine’s works, with their emphasis on reason, social justice, freedom, democracy and independence from irrationality and the stranglehold of tradition, remain important today. Paine abhorred offensive war and desired peace for the world. He almost single-handedly inspired a mass conception of the public sphere and involved all sections of society in political discourse, stripping the elites of their dominance and opening the minds of people to realise they did not need to bow to their so-called superiors. This was owing to his use of language – plain, unadorned and accessible whilst still remaining reasonable, scathing and funny. The debate between Paine and Burke is the foundational debate of most political disagreement since. We should not forget his failings (for example, he was sympathetic to the cause of women’s rights and the plight of Native Americans, but did not do much about these during his career), but his achievements are no less remarkable despite them. In the end, Paine’s work has been vindicated. We now hold the ideals he espoused as sacred and inviolable. Secularism, democracy, freedom, reason, humanism – not many would choose to reverse the tide of progress these ideals have made. To further emphasise Claeys – the age of Paine has not ended. It started in 1776 and, like the French Revolution, it is too soon to tell what its impact will be. All that is certain is that Paine is still with us in many ways, and his work and life deserve a wider appreciation, owing to their political relevance and t hei r c h a mpion i ng of t he Enlightenment and reason (a philosophy which is also unappreciated yet much needed today), than they currently have – there will never be a time when we do not need to recall the life and arguments of the great rebel Tom Paine.





AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE BANGLADESH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, 1971. examine the usefulness and limitations of the Mondal case study in relation to some of the wider historical and historiographical issues of the Ba ngladesh Wa r. The main historiographical problems are discussed, with particular focus on the controversy surrounding Sarmila Bose’s revisionist narrative of the war. By looking at the important points that Bose does raise in her attempt to challenge the false dichotomy of ‘good/ evil’ that pervades the orthodox narrative, this essay will then discuss the Mondal case study in relation to the broader limitations of making generalisations about different communities. Finally, the Mondal case study will be used to demonstrate that individual accounts are incredibly important to our understanding of the war, but that they can also be problematic. As the daughter of a Bengali woman, it is perhaps astounding that I had lived twenty years of my life without ever hearing of the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence. Earlier this year, however, in one of my pre-honours history courses I briefly encountered the nine months of brutal conflict that marked 1971 as one of the largest bloodsheds in South Asian history.1 It was difficult to comprehend that my family had lived through the same period of mass killings and ruthless crimes against humanity that I was reading about in history books. I was inspired to find out from my mother’s side of the family what they remembered of the war. I collected the Mondal family’s experience of 1

The death toll was high but the

exact figure is unknown. It has traditionally been said to have been 3 million but there is little evidence to substantiate this estimate.

1971 through a series of oral interviews, and I discovered the great extent to which my family had been impacted by the conflict. I have reproduced the Mondal family’s experience with the intention of bringing to light the horrors of 1971 that were experienced by an entire generation of Bengalis, but are so little known to my generation today. I have provided the historical background for the reader who is not familiar with the events of 1971, followed by Sattar and Momtaz Mondal’s previously unheard account of the war, which offers an insight into the impact that the conflict had on the lives of ordinary civilians. The majority of my research is centred on the account given by Momtaz, my maternal grandmother, who was a 22 year old mother of three when the war broke out, and thus the narrative I present is largely centred on a female perspective. In the final section of this article, I move away from simply retelling the events and experiences of 1971, and

HISTORICAL CONTEXT When Pakistan was partitioned from India in 1947, it problematically inherited a divided nation, in which the two regions – East and West – were separated by over 1,500 kilometres of Indian territory. The two halves of Pakistan were culturally very dissimilar, and the regional division proved difficult to manage. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, East Pakistanis had grown increasingly anxious that the government - which was based in the West and dominated by the Mohajir and Punjabi elite – was neglecting Bengali interests.2 This cause for concern was justified, and 2

The Mohajirs were an Urdu-

speaking Muslim elite who had migrated from India to West Pakistan during Partition; the Punjabis were one of the wealthiest ethnic groups in West Pakistan.



the economic disparity between East and West was heightened under Ayub Khan’s military regime, 1958-1969. As historian Crispin Bates elucidates, by 1967 the East had become ‘virtually a colony of the western half of the country’; despite the fact that East Pakistan had the largest population, the most extensive poverty and that its jute-export was bringing in most of Pakistan’s foreign exchange in this period, the majority of development funding was given to West Pakistan. As East-West tensions heightened the Bangladesh Awami League, founded in 1949, became increasingly popular at a provincial level. In the mid-1960s, under the leadership of Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League produced a six-point plan that demanded greater autonomy for East Pakistan. In 1966 this incited popular demonstrations among Bengalis, but these were brutally suppressed and Mujibur Rahman was arrested. However, this only served to increase the Awami League’s popularity. Mujibur Rahman was released in 1968, Yahya Khan replaced Ayub Khan as President of Pakistan in 1969, and in December 1970 the first nation-wide elections were held. The Awami League won 160 out of 162 of the Assembly seats for East Pakistan. However, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, leader of the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP), which had won 81 seats in West Pakistan, refused to reach agreement with Mujibur Rahman over the constitution and abruptly called for the National Assembly inaugural session in March to be postponed. When news of this reached East Pakistan, thousands of people rallied in Dhaka and Chittagong to protest against West Pakistani rule. Strikes, demonstrations and large-scale public meetings followed, in which student organisations played a prominent role. Yahya Khan’s government in West Pakistan responded to the Bengali demand for independence with ruthless military suppression. On 25 March ‘Operation Searchlight’ was launched, which was the West Pakistani military’s plan to take control of all the major cities and eliminate all opposition in East Pakistan within 30 days. Yahya Khan was reported to have made the harrowing statement: ‘Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.’ In the early hours of 26 March 1971, Mujibur Rahman,

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moments before he was again arrested, supposedly sent a message to East Pakistan Radio declaring the country’s independence and calling for its citizens to fight for their freedom. The ensuing conflict amounted to nine months of bloody civil war, with the Mukhti Bahnini (‘Freedom Fighters’), the Bangladeshi liberation guerrilla movement, putting up significant resistance. The Pakistani military, who recruited Bengalis collaborators known as the razakar, systematically massacred the intelligentsia in Dhaka, and terrorised villages where they slaughtered entire families, tortured supporters of the liberation movement and raped women; but war crimes were committed on all sides. The war came to a close when India intervened in support of Bangladesh on 3 December, and ended with West Pakistan’s surrender on 16 December 1971.

THE MONDAL FAMILY’S EXPERIENCE PRE-WAR YEARS Sattar Mondal, born in December 1937, was one of eight surviving children of a reasonably prosperous Muslim farming family from the remote village of Khalsi in Naogaon district.3 Although Sattar wanted to a be a teacher, his father, Quadar Mondal, could only afford to send one of his children to school beyond the age of 11, and he chose his eldest son Kashim, who wanted to be a doctor. Undeterred, Sattar continued his education unofficially by smuggling books from one of his teachers when he was meant to be minding the family’s cattle. Sattar went on to complete a BSc in Chemistry at the University of Rajashahi in 1957. A year later, aged 20, he married a 10 year old girl from Naogaon named Momtaz Ahmed, from a likewise wellto-do Muslim family. Momtaz, born in October 1948, was an only child 3

I have used the place names and


and had grown up in the family home of her deceased father. Due to Momtaz’s young age, her own mother, Rabay-ya Khatun Ahmed, moved in with the couple to help with their housework. Between this time and the outbreak of the war, Sattar completed an MSc in Chemistry at the University of Rajashahi, lectured at Dhaka University and received a scholarship from the West Pakistani government to complete a PhD in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Sheffield.4 During this period, Momtaz gave birth to Sattar’s three daughters: Dilruba (b.1961), Rukshana (b.1965) and Etika (b.1966). Whilst Sattar completed his PhD abroad between 1966 and 1969, Momtaz lived between her in-law’s house in Khalsi and her own family home in Naogaon. Neither Momtaz nor Sattar recall facing any hardship in these pre-war years, and their second daughter Rukshana remembers only a ‘happy childhood.’

POPULAR PROTESTS AND RISING TENSIONS 1971 By 1971, Sattar had returned from Sheffield and moved with his wife and children to Dhaka University, where he took up a position as a professor.5 Neither Sattar nor Momtaz ever engaged in politics in any serious way, but during this politically turbulent time they were certainly aware of the growing unrest among Bengalis. Momtaz recalls the political dominance of the West, stating that everything a Bengali did had required permission from West Pakistani officials: ‘they [were the] boss’. On the radio and from overheard conversations, Momtaz learned of the protests that were taking place in Dhaka in the lead up to the war, but she did not understand exactly what was going on at this time. In March 1971, the family were living at a University hostel in Alu Bazar, which was situated slightly off campus, where Satta r acted a s t he superintendent for the students at this dorm. One day in mid-March, Momtaz was confused to see that all the students were going home. Only the doorman

spellings provided by Momtaz as I have


Sattar added that it was extremely

had difficulty finding the names and Eng-

unusual for the West Pakistani government

lish spellings for these places today. For in-

to offer scholarships to East Pakistanis.

Together they formed a government that

stance, I have sat down with Momtaz and


was unrepresentative of Pakistan’s ethnic

located Khalsi on Google Maps and found

sor’ was used to refer to the position of


that this remote village is not labelled.


In Dhaka at the time, ‘profes-


stayed behind, and he explained to Sattar that the students had to leave out of fear that they would be the first to be killed by the approaching Pakistani military. The following days were marked by chaos and panic: people were on the move and there were large meetings being held in Dhaka City. Momtaz remembers trying to watch the news on a television that was in one of the University offices. She knew something bad was happening but she was not sure what it was exactly. Likewise, Dilruba, who was nine years old, remembers overhearing Sattar’s conversations and being aware that something serious was going to happen.

BLACK NIGHT OF 25 MARCH On the night of 25 March, Momtaz remembers being woken up by a loud noise outside. Unsure what was going on, she went to open the window and vividly remembers seeing red in the sky and realising the sound was gunshot fire. She could hear that people were frantically running, crying and shouting in the alleyway between her building and an adjacent hotel. Concerned about her children, Momtaz brought Dilruba and Rukshana into the bedroom that she, Sattar and Etika shared, and spent the rest of the night crying. Rukshana was only six years

old at the time, but remembers hearing the shootings. Momtaz recalls the thoughts that were going through her head whilst the killings seemed to go on all night:

‘We have no idea where we’ll go, what we’ll do […] what’ll I do? I don’t understand anything.’

It was this night that Operation Searchlight was launched: Mujibur Rahman had been arrested and the Pakistani military entered Bangladesh, attacking Dhaka University and its su rrou nding Hindu-majority neighbourhoods, armed with heavy weaponry including tanks, rocket launchers, automatic rif les and machine guns. In particular, the military targeted Jagannath Hall, an on-campus hostel designated for nonMuslim students. By the end of the night, hundreds of people had been killed.

STUCK IN DHAKA The following day, the couple were told what had happened and Momtaz




recalls crying, being unable to eat and not being allowed to leave the building. Sattar was approached by one of his colleagues, who was very concerned about the family’s safety, he told Sattar that he must take his family and leave. But the Mondals had nowhere to go – it was too dangerous to travel back to Naogaon or Khalsi and they did not know of any other villages where they could stay. They had no choice but to remain where they were. One of Momtaz’s female servants had promised to keep coming to their house to do the cooking and cleaning, but Momtaz could not stop crying as Dhaka became increasingly empty. Momtaz remembers that the neighbouring house, which was home to a large family of about 50 people, was suddenly deserted. As more and more people left the university, friends and colleagues more desperately urged the Mondal family to do likewise. It was decided that it was not safe for the family to stay where they were because, if the army saw the title ‘superintendent’ on Sattar’s dorm, they might kill him. So the family relocated to the students’ quarters where they shared a single room. Momtaz recalls her conversation with her neighbour there:

‘And I see one old lady, and I tell her, “Auntie, where are your family, everybody, gone somewhere?” And […] she said “yeah they’ve gone to a village over the river somewhere they gone there”. And I said “oh no! Auntie! Well what’ll I do because I have small children?” […] and she said “don’t worry Allah will help you […] you can come to my house.”’ “How can I go in that house because I have to go on the floor?”’

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Terrified of going outside, Momtaz had to visit her neighbour by jumping from the balcony of one building to another. That night, she also remembers seeing students who were sitting on the roof on night-watch. During this period, Dilruba remembers that her mother was crying and that her father was very stressed.

A FAILED ESCAPE The following day, people became even more insistent that the young family could not stay in Dhaka. That morning, it was decided that Sattar would take his family to a village across the river called Jinjillah. So the family got a rickshaw and headed out of Dhaka. However, when they were only halfway, Momtaz noticed that there was a rickshaw coming back the other way, and there was a woman in it who was crying. She urged Sattar to ask the woman what had happened, and they were told that the Pakistani military were at the crossing, and so they could not continue. Momtaz recounts: ‘We go halfway and then I see one rickshaw is coming back and one lady she is too much crying. Young lady, too much crying. I said “please ask her how what happened there”. […Sattar] said “no no no its okay.” And I said “please ask her” and I ask and then one rickshaw man he said… he said [that we couldn’t go there] and then [Sattar asked the lady] what happened. And she is too much crying said “no can’t go there because now, because after three days all army think oh no the Dhaka people are very clever, they are going over that river […] and next morning when people they see all river side all [Pakistani soldiers…].” We go halfway… then we come back […] And again I go [to my neighbour’s] house and I said “Auntie, we can’t go there”, and she said “what’ll you do now? … Okay Allah will help you”.’ Later, Sattar and Momtaz found out from one of Sattar’s friends, who had also done a PhD at the University of Sheffield, that the army had gone to Jinjillah that very night and ‘killed everyone there.’ Sattar’s friend had only survived by hiding under his bed when the army raided his house. It may have been a failed escape for the Mondals therefore, but it was also a


very lucky one.

19 Days in Jalkuri The family had returned to Dhaka, but at 4pm on that same day a physics lecturer called Muhafuz, who was the supervisor of another hostel in which all the students had left, told Sattar that he knew of a village called Jalkuri where they could all go together. Sattar took only some money, and Momtaz packed one small suitcase and hid her jewellery in a pocket that she had sewn inside her petticoat. At this time, Momtaz was aware that young women were being kidnapped and raped, so she felt very afraid: ‘All young girl, plenty young girl, they take and they keep at their place…too much like this’. She remembers holding her sari low across her face so that she would not be seen. The family took a rickshaw with Muhafuz. Sattars remembers leaving Dhaka, and that Rukshana was on his lap during the journey, he told me: ‘And I took my wife and children, they were very young you know…’ However, much of the journey had to be completed on foot and, given the hot climate in Bangladesh at this time of year, this proved a long and exhausting journey for the couple and their very young children. Momtaz recounts: ‘Too much sunshine. It’s too hot we can’t walk but we have to walk long… no water, nothing - oh my god – it’s like… children they are little little girl and we are going… going… going…’ Momtaz remembers that they were so hungry and thirsty that they picked unripe lentils from a field, and tried to pump some water from an old well that they passed. After a few hours, they reached the house in Jalkuri where they would stay alongside approximately 100-200 other people. The community at Jalkuri were extremely friendly, generous and welcoming, and Muhafuz insisted that they could stay there as long as they liked. The villagers fed everybody for free. Momtaz remembers having breakfast in Jalkuri: ‘They make chipati and give sugar for everybody. So we are [Dilruba, Rukshana, Etika] and me, four people, they give four roti and sugar. But we eat maybe one or

two roti. Just a little bit because I can’t eat anything I was only crying.’ Although the people were very accommodating, there were separate men’s and women’s rooms and so Momtaz and Sattar did not see each other much. Momtaz also struggled to sleep on the floor alongside all the other women, with only her suitcase as a pillow. They received news of the war every day, and after four days things seemed to be improving and so some people started to return to their homes. To be safe, however, they stayed in Jalkuri for a total of 19 days before returning to their hostel in Dhaka.


A Brief Return to Dhaka Although Sattar had assumed that things might be better in Dhaka, little had changed. The streets remained generally empty and although the family’s friends promised to help them, they often disappeared at times of heightened danger. After four days, Sattar’s uncle, Azizul, came to stay with the family in Dhaka because he needed to go to the bank. Momtaz explains that the bank was sometimes open but it was extremely dangerous to go outside. They had heard that the killings were constant and that the army were stopping people and asking them to recite Kalimas to prove that they were Muslim.1 If unable to, they would be shot there and then. 1

The Six Kalimas are Muslim



Three days on, Momtaz remembers that the family had been brought some lamb meat, and she was extremely excited about the meal of lamb and chipati that her servant was cooking up. Meanwhile, Sattar and Azuzil went to the bank. They made it there and back safely, but the streets were full of corpses. ‘[Sattar] and that uncle they go to bank to take some money. And when they go - oh my god - they saw plenty dead body. Plenty dead body and all the […] crows eating all their bodies like this [gestures to suggest organs spilling out…] they saw [with their] own eyes.’ Azuzil was scared, and upon his return he insisted that the servant stopped cooking and that the family left straight away – he knew a village over the Buriganga River where they could go. Momtaz was upset that she did not get to eat the meal that she had been so excited about, but she quickly packed her things and made sure that the servants were given some food.

A Dangerous Journey to the Buriganga River Unsure who to trust, they decided to take a private taxi to the Buriganga River, after which they could walk to a remote village called Nawabganj. In the taxi, Momtaz sat by the door with Etika on her lap, next to her was Rukshana, then Dilruba, then Sattar then Azuzil. She remembers this so vividly because she thought this journey would be her last. Half an hour into the taxi ride, they realised that the driver was not a Bengali but a Bihari.2 It was a time of heightened ethnic tension between Bengalis and Biharis in East Pakistan, and Sattar prayers. 2

The Bihari people were an ethnic

minority from the Indian state of Bihar, and they were often marginalised in the East. There was great ethnic tension between the Bihari and Bengali people at this time, with much violence occurring between the two communities in 1971. Not all Biharis supported the West Pakistani cause, however, and the Bihari community itself was sometimes targeted by both the West Pakistani military and the razakar.

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and Momtaz assumed that their driver’s allegiance was with the West. Suddenly, their car came to a stop, and Momtaz saw Pakistani soldiers outside. The family were certain that they would be shot. ‘We take one taxi but we didn’t know he was a Bihari. […] We think Bengali people the taxi driver, but actually he is not Bengali people […] He’s a Pakistani […] And suddenly one place our car is stopped. Our car is stopped and then I see I remember, whole army […] They came… oh my god… just to see... and I know that we’ll die […] Quickly just smoothly the car stopped and then I close my eyes and I said just Kalimas... I don’t know… and I see one man came to my this side and he look…’ As the soldier looked in, Momtaz vividly recalls that her whole body went so numb that she believes she would not have felt anything if she were shot. She covered her daughters with her sari so that they would not see what was happening, and Azuzil suggested that they should say Kalimas because they were going to die. Perhaps the soldier felt compassion when he saw Momtaz try to protect her children, or perhaps it was because of the family’s clear Muslim devotion, but for whatever reason, the car was allowed to continue on its journey. Momtaz was still in shock, and she remembers the sense of numbness throughout her body slowly beginning to fade.

15 Days in Nawabganj At about 4pm they reached the Buriganga River, which they had to cross by boat. At the other side, they had to walk for a long time and did not reach Nawabganj until about 10pm. The village was already full of people, however, and so the Mondals had to stay in a cleared-out cattle shelter. Rukshana recalls the journey being an exciting adventure, and that staying in the remote villages felt like a holiday for her: she only remembers sitting in a long boat, the women cooking fish, and the trees being full of birds’ nests. Although they were safe here and Sattar was able to go to the shops to get food without fear of encountering the army, Momtaz had a hard time fitting in with the local women. All the women shared in the chores, but Momtaz struggled to keep up because she had grown up with servants and her mother had helped her with the housework because she was married at such a young age. Azuzil defended Momtaz, but the women resented her privileged position and were jealous that the local men seemed to favour


her.3 Momtaz also felt very uncomfortable bathing in the river when men were watching and going to the outhouse alone at night, but when she complained she was bitterly criticised for acting as if she was better than the other women. When Sattar heard of the way that Momtaz was being treated, he insisted that the family returned to Dhaka regardless of the dangers. They had stayed in Nawabganj for a total of 15 days.

7 Months in Dhaka Back in Dhaka, the family moved to the Minority Hostel inside the University. This was a small hostel for Hindus. Sattar remembers that he taught his Hindu assistantsuperintendent to recite Kalimas so that he could pretend he was Muslim if the Pakistani army asked. But Momtaz explains that it was not just Hindus being targeted, everyone was in danger. On 21 April it became compulsory for department heads to return to their jobs, and on 1 June this included all other teachers. In the following months, therefore, Sattar continued to teach despite very few students turning up, and the family co-existed alongside the Pakistani military whose presence remained consistently large. Because their flat was next to the army’s building, Momtaz could see the soldiers training outside in the mornings. The relationship was somewhat amicable, and both Momtaz and Sattar recall giving the soldiers food and water. Sattar would converse with the soldiers, and told me that many of the soldiers were friendly with the Bengali people, but ‘then suddenly they started killing, you know.’ Momtaz likewise explains: ‘Sometimes the army come to college, they visit us. […] They respect you know, its ok, it’s alright […] but when they doubt somebody they are going… killing like that.’ Until this point, Momtaz and Sattar had not been able to contact their family back in Naogaon district, who had heard about the Dhaka University killings and assumed that they were dead. Momtaz remembers hearing from her family, and learning that one of her uncles had been killed. One day in December, the army came 3

It is perhaps surprising, given

the atrocities that were going on, that such petty issues were being treated with upmost concern.


to the Minority Hostel and demanded that all men come to the field outside. Momtaz did not expect Sattar and her male servant to return. But the army did not shoot, they just asked who was a Muslim, and Sattar’s Hindu assistant pretended that he was Muslim too. Momtaz remembers hearing that one man, a servant’s uncle who had come to visit in the North Hostel, had refused to go to the field and so the army captured him, but Momtaz does not know of his fate. Every day, Momtaz and Sattar listened to the radio. They heard about the fighting, India’s involvement, and that the Mukhti Bahini were getting stronger. Momtaz remembers hearing that India had supplied Bangladesh with bombs, bullets, planes and soldiers. But the war was not over, and now the family had to deal with the threat posed by bombings. The children did not understand what was going on, however, and would play in the rubble outside of the house. One day, when the siren went off Rukshana recalls that she dropped a brick on her finger as she rushed indoors. The family decided that the Minority Hostel was not safe with the bombings going on. It only had two floors, so it was safer for them to stay on the fourth floor of the sturdier South Hostel. Here, they had to live in the empty house of the ex-superintendent, who had been killed along with his family. At this time, the army relocated to the International Hostel which was no longer occupied by students. One of Sattar’s colleagues had been living there, however, and so had to leave and stay with the Mondals for four or five days. During this time, he suddenly realised that he needed some things from his room, but the Pakistani army now occupied the building. Momtaz’s servant, a boy of age 16 or 17, was ordered to go to the International Hostel to collect these things. Terrified, the boy begged not to, insisting that the army would shoot him, but he eventually obeyed. When he did go he spoke to the soldiers in Urdu and was able to collect the items unharmed.

14 December Executions After another few nights, the Principal told Sattar that they needed to move further away from the army, who could attack them at any time. So the Mondals moved in with the Principal and his family. This was a particularly frightening time because intellectuals were again being targeted. The Mukhti Bahini informed Sattar that his name was on the military’s list of Bengali intellectuals to be

eliminated, and an attack was imminent. Sattar and Momtaz returned to the hostel in Alu Bazar, and they went to their neighbour’s house to seek help.4 This family suggested that the Mondals could stay in a small nearby shop that they owned. Here, they stayed for a few nights where they slept on the floor. On the second night, Momtaz remembers that there was a knock on the door. Terrified, Momtaz feared it was the army and that Sattar would be shot if he answered it. However, it turned out to be the neighbour’s son who had come to check on them. As the war had neared its end, the Pakistani military made one last effort to eradicate as many Bengali intellectuals as possible. Between 12- 14 December, over 200 East Pakistani academics were captured at their homes in Dhaka, blindfolded and taken on a bus to torture cells. They were later executed and dumped in a mass grave – many of the bodies were mutilated. Sattar told me: ‘Yeah I saw lots of war. People were killed and lives were lost, many of my friends. […] All killed. Lecturers, this and that. All killed you know…’ The casualties included six or seven of Sattar’s colleagues who he had known well. The Mondals remained in hiding until the 16 December, they were still very afraid and Momtaz remembers that she told off her servant for crying too loudly, afraid that he might be heard. On the 16 December, the family found out that the Pakistani Army had surrendered, and that the soldiers in the International Hostel had been arrested. They could return to their home. Rukshana remembers that people were shooting bullets into the air in celebration, and that she and her sisters would play with the bullets that they would pick up off the floor. However, for the next month or so, Dhaka was still not safe. Violent acts of revenge continued to take place between Bengalis who had supported the independence movement and those who had collaborated with the West. For instance, the Mukhti Bahini were responsible for raping many women from the families of men who had collaborated with the Pakistani military. Momtaz explains that these 4

This was the home of the large

family of 50 people that Momtaz saw deserted at the start of the war.




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tension between families persisted for a long time after the war. Meanwhile, the people who had fled to India often returned to find that all their possessions were gone, and some of the young girls who had been kidnapped were returned, many pregnant from rape. But things slowly got quieter and life for the Mondals returned to normal.

Discovering the Fate of Family and Friends After the war, Momtaz and Sattar were able to contact their families and friends to find out who had survived and how the war had impacted people outside of Dhaka. Dilruba describes not knowing if her loved ones were alive as the ‘worst part’ of the experience.5 As early as March, Momtaz’s cousin, a young boy, was killed along with many other men in his village. She knew one of the girls there who had been traumatised from the sight of seeing her entire family massacred before her very eyes. According to Momtaz, the woman has been very troubled ever since. Sattar also learned that one of his friends, a maths lecturer at Rajasthahi, had been killed. Because Rajashahi city was not safe, this man had returned to his village. As Momtaz explains: ‘So their village every day the army going, and one day army catch him and they said […] “are you Muslim?” And he said “I am Muslim.” “So what do you do?” “I’m a lecturer at college”. And they “oh that’s a good man, very good”. And they said “ don’t leave your place we are not doing anything for your family.” So he believed you know. And next day they said they will go to their village, you know, so all people go leave their house and their family the professor said “no we shouldn’t leave there, we shouldn’t leave house, we stay here because army said no, no they’ll not do anything.” Oh my god. And his wife gone her father’s house. That man and his brother, his mother, his sisters, their husbands, their children, eleven people. They said “no we have to leave we have to leave!” 5

In this section, some of the names

have been changed to respect privacy.


He said “no, no, no we stay nobody would do anything”. And then that army come the village and kill plenty people and they go that house and they said “all come here.” And that professor said “maybe they will see how many people here come […] come here all stand, all stand”, oh my god... “All stand […] all stand” and then dur dur dur dur dur [shooting gesture] all people, eleven people […] All died. But the professor he died after long because when they shoot and still he’s alive but after few I don’t know few hours he died.’ Another of Momtaz’s cousins, Abdul, was a high-ranking member of the Awami League. He had many political connections and was thus able to travel with his mother, wife, sister and daughter to India. Before they left their home, the family dug up their bedroom floor overnight so that they could bury all of their possessions, and it was covered with a rug to conceal it. When they returned at the end of the war, however, the rest of their house had been ransacked, photographs were smashed and their doorman had been murdered. His body was left outside the house, and dogs were eating the corpse. Abdul’s father and Momtaz’s uncle, Foyazuddin, was the wealthy owner of a jute mill and was therefore a prime target of the Pakistani army who wanted to eradicate big businessmen. Foyazuddin and Momtaz’s mother, Rabay-ya Khatun, moved away from the city to a more remote village where they would hide in the jute fields when the Pakistani army came by. Finding that people were not home, the soldiers would ransack the houses. The army would pass this village along the main road every day, however, so Foyazuddin and Rabay-ya Khatun decided to travel to a more remote region, a village where Momtaz’s cousin lived. But the police and the villagers did not want Foyazuddin to stay with them because his presence would attract the army. From there, therefore, one of Momtaz’s cousins managed to take Foyazuddin across the border to India. Staying in India was mostly comfortable, but there were times when they had only one handful of rice to last three days. Meanwhile, Sattar’s brother Kashim was working as an army doctor. Therefore, when the war broke out he was working in Kashmir in West Pakistan. During the war, all members of the military who had been recruited


from East Pakistan were arrested. Kashim’s family spent the war interned inside basic accommodation. In one incident, one of Kashim’s daughters had fallen and cut her face but without any medical supplies, he was unable to ease her suffering. The experience of Kashim and his wife was made all the more difficult because they were separated from their 10 year old daughter who was staying with her paternal grandparents - Sattar’s father, Quadar, and mother, Chakina Bibi - in Kalshi in Bangladesh where she was going to school. The family had planned to join her soon, but with the war breaking out and no contact allowed, Kashim and his wife believed her dead. She likewise lost hope that her family were still alive, especially when they did not return at the end of the war. Kashim and his family were not released until 1973. In Kalshi, Quadar and Chakina Bibi also lived with their sons - Sattar’s younger brothers Samad and Mahboob. When the army came to Kalshi, they would all hide in the bushes. During this time, Quadar was unwell, however, and so had to be carried into the jute field, where he would be laid down in the shallow water. One time, he was left there for a few hours and when his sons returned, he was covered in leeches. At this moment, they heard gunfire and when they returned to their house they learnt that Quadar’s step-brother had been shot by local men who had been Samad’s friends, but were now supporting the Pakistani army. These men who collaborated with West Pakistan were known as the razakar, which literally meant ‘volunteer’ in Urdu, however, in reality these men would likely have themselves been shot if they had refused to comply. Quadar’s step-brother had hidden under his bed, but the razakar broke into his house, found him and dragged him outside where they shot him in front of his family. He was targeted because he was the political supporter of a pro-Bangladesh party. This was the only casualty on Sattar’s side of the family. The Pakistani army had also tried to recruit Samad, who was a young man completing his Masters at university at the time. One day he was captured, but managed to talk his way out of joining the razakar by telling them that his older brother Kashim was in West Pakistan helping the Pakistani cause. For a while the soldiers followed him home, but he was eventually left alone. In the immediate months following the war, Samad was taken to India because his family were afraid that the Indian army would shoot him because his facial hair gave him the appearance of a West Pakistani.

The most harrowing tale, however, was the torture and killing of the husband and brother-in-law of Momtaz’s cousin Hasina. These two men had been involved with the Mukhti Bahini who were fighting for Bengali independence. Many young men in their village, however, had been recruited as razakar by the West Pakistani army. The razakar in this village also included the husband of Sattar’s sister Marium, and Marium and Hasina knew each other. When the razakar found out about the political activity of Hasina’s husband and brother-in-law, they captured the two men and beat them up until they were half-dead, then hung them upside down, out in the open, from a tree in the village. There, in front of the other villagers, including Hasina, they were made an example of. The two men were brutally tortured. Their skin was sliced and salt was thrown onto the wounds. They were hit repeatedly. Gravel and crushed brick was shoved into their ears and pushed in further using sticks. Hasina, who was pregnant at the time, ran to Marium’s house, begging that she asks her husband to stop the atrocity. Hasina knelt at the feet of Marium’s husband and begged him to spare her husband’s life.6 He responded by kicking the pregnant woman who was begging at his feet, so hard that she fell, hit her face on the floor and her wedding ring fell out of her nose. When she returned to the site of the torture her husband was gone. But the villagers told her that they had seen two large rice bags floating down the river, and that blood was pouring out of them – it was clearly the two dead bodies, cut into pieces. After the war, the rakazar from this village, including Marium’s husband, mysteriously disappeared and they were presumed dead. Both Hasina and Marium were left widowed. In the months that followed, the men in the village threatened to kill Marium because of her husband’s involvement with West Pakistan, but she was protected by members of Momtaz’s family. Suddenly, ten years later, Marium’s husband returned to Bangladesh, revealing that he had been 6

It is unclear here what Marium’s

husbands motivations were – it has been speculated that he had a personal dislike for Hasina’s husband, but also that his father was also involved with the razakar and it was he who insisted that the torture continued.






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THE ROHINGYA CRISIS AND A CRISIS OF COMMUNITY Community is defined by the Oxford dictionary as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. These characteristics include religion, ethnicity, occupation or sexuality – to name but a few. Most of us know where we belong. Most of us are able to identify ourselves as part of several communities, including – and perhaps most significantly – a home. Home can be where we grew up or where we reside now but it is usually a place in which we put down roots and with which we form a connection. Whatever other communities I might consider myself a part of, I could not imagine being unable to return to the place that I grew up in and that I consider an integra l part of myself. Unfortunately, this is a reality that millions of people have faced in the past and continue to face today. By now most people have heard of the recent violent actions taken against the Rohingya people by Myanmar military forces in an attempt to drive them out of the country. These actions include murder, torture, rape, arbitrary arrest and the burning of villages to prevent anyone from returning. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have been forced to flee their homes. It has been labelled by the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein,

as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’. However, this violence did not begin in 2017. The Rohingya are one of the two main ethnic groups in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. For decades, there has been a conflict about whether they belong in the country because of their ethnicity and religion. Many in Myanmar believe they should be removed to Bangladesh. The Rohingya are indeed different – they have their own language and culture and the majority are Muslim. However, they have lived there for generations and claim to be descended from Arab merchants who settled in the region (then called ‘Arakan’) in the eighth century. They were always seen as outsiders by nationalists in Myanmar, and the two opposing groups clashed several times throughout the twentieth century. In the 1960s the military staged a coup d’état and proceeded to implement a number of severe measures against the Rohingya including barring them from holding public office, taking away their right to vote, and restricting human rights. They are not recognised as citizens, making them legally stateless. According to Amnesty Internationa l, t his discrimination left the Rohingya living in poverty, segregated, and with limited access to schools and other basic amenities.

In 2012, the Rakhine State riots occurred. These were a series of violent conf licts between the Buddhist Rakhine population and the Muslim Rohingyas. Some believe these riots were sponsored by the military who encouraged the Buddhist population to ‘defend themselves’ against the Muslim population. In the same year, the UN described the Rohingya people as ‘one of the most persecuted minorities in the world’. 2015 saw hundreds of Rohingya fleeing by boat to escape violence and persecution. In October 2016, Rohingya militants attacked several police posts along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh which left nine officers dead. Following these attacks, the army began ‘clearance operations’ against the Rohingya. Clashes between insurgents and the military continued into 2017, with the government using these to justify the extreme measures they adopted. In August 2017, the military once again led a ‘clearance operation’. The military has responded to accusations of ethnic cleansing from the UN and other human rights organisations by claiming that only terrorists were targeted and only 400 people had been killed. However, based on evidence such as satellite images and accounts from Rohingya refugees themselves, it is believed that the military is



targeting the entire Rohingya population in an organised effort to drive them out of the country and the death toll was in excess of 1,000 people, including women and children. Hundreds of thousands of people have subsequently fled the Rakhine state, including a number of Buddhists and Hindus. The UN, world leaders and human rights organisations have condemned the violence and asked the Myanmar government and military to end their campaign against the Rohingya. Governments and organisations have also agreed to provide funds and humanitarian aid to refugees. However, beyond that, there seems to be very

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little that the international community can do. The violence receives no real condemnation from the government of Myanmar itself, which most view as tacit approval. One group of people seeking to expel another from their community based on differences of race, religion or a perceived sole right to inhabit a space is a depressingly common occurrence. Throughout history, people have faced ostracism, discrimination and even violence simply for existing in a place in which their appearance, religion or way of life was considered inferior, abnormal or foreign. These sentiments not only threaten lives but also violate t he essence of com mu nity. Communities are malleable. It is possible to belong to more than one and it is possible for them to overlap. The identity of one person is not

threatened if his neighbour is different from him. Conquests of foreign land and colonisation have facilitated the mixing of cultures and ethnicities and interaction between people of different backgrounds for centuries. More recently, this has been facilitated by increased globalisation, migration and communication. Therefore, in 2017, the idea that a person can only belong to certain communities if they meet certain strict requirements is not sustainable. Millions now reside in countries that they have no ethnic ties to but which they consider home and this, for the most part, has proven beneficial in many ways. It has also developed the idea of what a modern community can look like. The crisis faced by the Rohingya people highlights the importance of communities and the fact that more needs to be done to protect vulnerable minorities and encourage cooperation and acceptance between communities that tend to clash.






MARILYN MONROE AND THE GREAT AMERICAN SOAP OPERA Marilyn Monroe is so famous that it is difficult to remember when we first saw her. She might be seen peering at us from a printed t-shirt on a market stall, smiling benevolently at us from the wall of an art gallery, reproduced in hollow wax or feebly impersonated in a magazine spread. What makes the individual, the woman, Monroe, so emblematic of 1950s Hollywood? Why has she outlasted the many more ‘serious’ screen actors of her era? This ‘mystery’ has often led to unflattering comments about where her real talents lay. Some have suggested that Monroe’s longevity is a direct result of her tragic and much debated death at the age of 36. I think that beyond her significance as a sex symbol, what made her an icon were the stories and myths about her life and career that linked her to broad community experiences in 1950s America. Allowing Monroe to take centre stage in what Norman Mailer called the ‘great American soap opera’. In today’s culture, it is our inability to bring these different ‘Marilyns’ into a totality that makes her such an interesting and debated figure. Norma Jeane Mortensen was born in Los Angeles on 1 June 1926. Her mother had a low-level job in Hollywood as a film cutter, with failed dreams of stardom. The hours she worked meant that Norma Jeane lived in a variety of foster homes and orphanages. Using the names of her mother’s two ex-husbands, Mortensen and Baker, interchangeably, Norma Jeane’s paternity was always mysterious. In her unfinished autobiography, My Story, Monroe illustrates how her family, or the lack of it, affected her. She daydreamed about her father endlessly and she often acted out films she had seen with her mother Gladys and her mother’s best friend Grace McKee. Her lack of family background in particular made Monroe anonymous, providing an opportunity for Hollywood to build fantasies around her. Her humble beginnings, which she emphasises in her autobiography, fitted into the widespread 1950s trope of the starlet discovered from obscurity. This played

into the myth of the American dream, of a society unshackled by class where anyone could be a success. Marilyn Monroe’s life story was deeply connected to American women’s experiences of the 1950s. Monroe said, ‘If I am a star, the people made me a star.’ She was right, and her widespread popularity amongst women was the key to her enduring stardom. In June 1945, Norma Jeane was photographed working in a Radioplane factory for the patriotic weekly Yank Magazine. This was the beginning of a prolific modelling career. However, at 16-yearsold, Norma Jeane had married her 21-year-old neighbour James Dougherty, for the financial convenience for her guardian Grace McKee. When Dougherty returned from the war, he told her that she had to choose between being a wife for

him, or a model for herself. She immediately filed for divorce. Mirroring scores of American women who had been encouraged to go to work for the war effort but were swiftly ushered towards the home once it was over. Similarly, in 1952, when Monroe confessed to posing nude for a rediscovered 1949 calendar, she gained popularity because women living under the same restrictive fifties values sympathised with her. Despite these defiant moments, Monroe was unable to transcend the eras stifling emphasis on the domestic woman, and she was wounded by her inability to have a child as well as her failed marriages. Beyond her quintessentially 1950s narrative, one of the most powerful aspects of the Marilyn Monroe persona was her sex appeal. Fifties Hollywood



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was able to star in a couple of early films as a femme fatale in Niagara (1953) and a disturbed babysitter in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), Twentieth Century Fox then repeatedly presented Monroe as the ‘dumb blonde’, a beautiful object for men to lust over, but also someone who was innocently unaware of this. The expensively dressed and wealth obsessed characters she played also suggested beautiful women were consumerist, fitting with the excessive consumption and prosperity of the 1950s. Meanwhile, her timely significance as a sex symbol was bolstered by the introduction of the close up, providing unprecedented intimacy, and increased media focus on celebrities’ personal lives. After the collapse of the studio system in the 1960s, it became nearly impossible to recreate the kind of stardom that Monroe had.

– in order to compete with television’s increasing popularity – relaxed censorship and became increasingly provocative. Meanwhile, sexual norms for women were still restrictive. This America was, to use the Freudian term, neurotic about sex. Freud, highly influential in Hollywood at the time, believed that our minds are in a constant struggle between our instincts towards pleasure and our desire to follow the rules. Despite Freud’s decline, it certainly is clear that in simultaneously trying to satisfy male fantasies and reinforce the traditional conception that women should be chaste, Marilyn Monroe appeared both highly sexualised and girlishly innocent. This was possible because in early-twentieth century Hollywood, the studio had huge control over the films ‘stars’ had to make, their publicity and promotion. So, whilst Monroe

What has kept her persona so prevalent is a number of inconsistencies it holds. The clash between the ‘dumb blonde’ we see on screen and the intelligent, witty and quotable woman we hear in interviews requires attention. It is symbolic of a culture that ignores women’s intellect and belittles their achievements. Monroe fought continuously to broaden her roles as an actor but was contractually forced into roles that demeaned her. Many, including some of her biographers, naïvely believe that Monroe really was her persona, because she sometimes used it to her advantage. Another inconsistency was between how men in her life wanted Monroe to behave, and who she really was – certainly a widespread struggle for women both in the 1950s and today. Her second husband Joe DiMaggio hated to see his wife playing provocative roles. The iconic scene in which Monroe holds her down her white halter dress disgusted DiMaggio. The next day Monroe came to work with obviously bruised shoulders and they divorced shortly afterwards. Her next husband, the playwright Arthur Miller, noted that he initially thought


Marilyn ‘was an angel’, but now realised, she was ‘just a woman’. This is a sad picture of how being an ordina r y woma n ca n be a disappointment to men who are used to having fantasies fulfilled on screen. When Monroe saw Miller’s notes, she was sadly aware of the contrast between the fictional creation of Marilyn Monroe, and the woman she really was. Unable to shed Monroe – too famous to start again – she struggled to hold the creation together. The most significant inconsistency in Monroe’s image is the happiness she radiated and created in others, which contrasted sharply with the inner pain she felt, that led her to struggle with prescription drugs, alcohol and her premature death. Arthur Miller identified in his script for The Misfits (1961), and Monroe’s last film, that Monroe’s character is told she is happy ‘because you make a man feel happy’. The icon Marilyn Monroe and her life story continuously clash. The contradictions in Marilyn Monroe’s presentations has kept people waiting for a final photograph or story that can align the sex icon Marilyn with the complex, sad, intelligent, unknowable woman she was. What we know about her life eats acid-like into old images of her. The repeated Warhol prints of Monroe capture the faded effect of an image seen in newsprint, endlessly photocopied into oblivion. It seems the more the modern viewer looks at Miss Monroe, the less we are able to see. Reality becomes clouded in layers of reproduction and layers of time. Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962, acrylic on canvas, 2054 x 1448 mm (Tate) © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. 2015



KURDISH HISTORY DILEMMA The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a country to call their own. The reason Kurdish people do not have an autonomous country is all due to the superpowers of the twentieth century dividing the Middle East in the way that suited them best at the time. However, the Kurds had a state of their own in the Ottoman Empire prior to that. I was conducting research on the Peshmerga, the Kurdish Army, and their fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in South Kurdistan, which is a semi-independent region within Iraq, when I had the opportunity to take a day off and visit the ruins of an old university near an ancient city called Amedi. The scholar I visited the university ruins with is from North Kurdistan, or Turkish Kurdistan, and he showed me texts he had obtained from Ottoman records talking about how the university we visited was one of the top universities in the Ottoman Empire. He also showed me maps and other quotes he had found in libraries across the world on the Kurds within the Ottoman Empire, with the most interesting text being a quote from Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent writing that he was thankful to God for the presence of the Kurds because if it were not for their bravery, the Persians would have taken over the Ottoman Empire. How is it that a people who were the fiercest

warriors and some of the most educated people within the Ottoman Empire have barely any credible written history and such a negative history in the few cases where it exists? The Kurdish people are divided into four different parts spanning over Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Therefore, independence for the greater Kurdistan means breaking up four different nations and that is more problematic than fighting for independence within one country. The Kurds are trying to keep their fight for independence local because they realize the difficulty of such a task, but independence for one part means more motivation for Kurds in the other parts to step up their efforts and demand their independence. With that being said, the countries that enclose the Kurds have all given their utmost effort to suppress the Kurds and make their journey towards autonomy much more arduous, with Turkey being the most effective. The Turkish government controls the majority of Ottoman archives, and given that Kurds were a part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, the majority of Kurdish history is contained in those archives. The Turkish government has not released anything positive on the history of the Kurds and we also do not know how much Kurdish history is indeed




included in these archives. Moreover, the Turkish government funds abundant research at varying institutions, academic and otherwise, all over the world. They also put effort into sending their own citizens to do research abroad. Most of this research funded by the Turkish government depicts the Kurds very negatively. Due to this problem, whatever little history is published on the Kurds is oftentimes very negative and they are usually portrayed as nomadic and barbaric. Kurdish scholars and other Kurdish studies scholars, like the one I visited the university ruins with, have been trying to locate as much information as possible from the Ottoman texts that are kept in libraries in Europe and North America, but these are very limited. The old history of the Kurds is controlled by governments that are unfriendly towards them and wish to present them as negatively as possible. The Iraqi government had banned all press and researchers from visiting the Kurdistan region during Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime prior to 1991, but some brave journalists walked through the mountains and joined the Peshmerga to document whatever little of their struggles they could. Due to governments restricting journalists and academics from visiting Kurdish areas, the Kurds were not

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able to get much of their more contemporary history reported, and they also did a very poor job at documenting their contemporary history by themselves. More and more scholarship is available on the Kurds thanks to technological advancements making communication increasingly effortless. The Kurdish people received a lot of attention from journalists and academics when their Peshmerga became the first force to halt the rapid expansion of ISIS with remarkable willpower displayed by Kurds in West and South Kurdistan. In other words, the Kurds have just had a more wholesome documentation of their history in the past few years. Though the Kurdish leadership is still not doing anything similar to Turkey’s funding of research, they are more enthusiastic about their history than ever before.

means we could and they made the case that the Kurdish people deserved the backing of the West as the most democratic community within the Middle East. The case of the Kurds is a testimony to the importance of history. A people without a history are a people forgotten, even if they number approximately 40 million people. Unfortunately, the case of the Kurds is not just a lack of history, but they also have a history without a people. The Kurdish community has not made any serious effort to recover their lost history or to document their contemporary history, but the war against ISIS thrust them into the attention of the world and forced them to make more of an effort to make sure they were no longer owners of a history without a people.

As a researcher, trying to document the Kurdish endeavor against ISIS on behalf of the free world, I was welcomed along with my partner by the Peshmerga leaders. In many cases, we were asked about which news outlet we worked for and the concept of doing academic research did not resound with many of people we interacted with, especially the older ones. However, after every single interview, the interviewee requested us to get the truth about the Kurdish efforts to the world through whatever





Most city’s come with a pre-approved aesthetic; there is a common undercurrent running throughout the design and a sense of ruthless rigidity in street planning. Architecture contributes towards a city’s creative community by drawing together the people, history and style. It is a method of understanding a city and knowing the streets. It geographically places you in the world and becomes a trigger picture of memories from a time gone past. It turns a city from a destination to a collective piece of artwork; where every street corner brings a new architectural exhibit, but one that is in creative harmony with the last. To me, Oslo betrays this normality. Here I have found a home, but one which I find hard to slot into my head under one neatly-filed aesthetic. The city is constantly moving and evolving, with a ceaseless rush of urban development and construction. The infamous Munch Museum had outgrown its premises and a new museum is in construction in Bjørvika, Oslo’s harbour area, bringing a 12-story tall glass-dominated structure to the front and centre of Oslo’s coast. They have grown tired of having to travel between museums and are in the midst of building a National Museum on the waterfront, which will eventually

house the current National Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Decorative Arts and Design. The growing Barcode area, a row of towering skyscrapers designed in complementing vertical stripes, was built into the fjord as land became scarce in the central business district. The skyline is thus littered with construction cranes, to the extent that they have become a permanent fixture in my head. There is no factual harmony to this skyline. You find old church spires sidled next to the shiny high-rises of the business district and bright yellow cranes aligning with the roof of the Royal Palace. I am searching for coherence in this Nordic community and I am finding a disjointed picture. Gamlebyen, or the Old Town, is hidden away. Although it is the original city district known as ‘Oslo’, when the rest of the city was still known as ‘Christiania’, it is no longer an important hub to the city. The oldest building remaining is the 12th century Old Aker Church and Medieval ruins are visible in some areas, but they lie forgotten among the increasingly modernised urban design. With the perception that I was moving to a quaint, small and cosy Scandinavian

city by the sea, I was perhaps fooled and unprepared for the real and concrete city I now call home. Let us take a walk along Oslo’s waterfront, where you can look out over the fjord and admire the many islands. If you walk from West to East, you first come to the Radhus or City Hall. It is unmistakable in its presence. Built in a deep red brick, it is made up of a central grand hall which sits below two towers- one is 63 metres tall and the other 66 metres, but the overall symmetrical image belies the eye. Designed by Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson and inspired by the similar city hall in Stockholm, it is achingly proportional and linear in its functionalist approach. Small square windows are punched all over the surface of the brick exterior and the brick is adorned in stone sculptures with designs marking an ode to Norway’s history. Each hour, the bells chime from the right-hand tower dominating the water front with an audible reminder of its existence. Sadly, at its completion in 1950, its design was no longer in style and the city had begun to explore a future of glass and metal. However, its imposing presence has undeniably marked the city’s skyline and will do



so into future generations. Its reminiscent ode to Scandinavian architecture of the early 20th century stands strong as the prevailing welcome to the city from the fjords’ entrance, but it is also isolated in its character. A small walk around the harbour, past the waiting boat which carries passengers out to the scattered islands, will take you to the dividing peninsula along Oslo’s waterfront. Here sits a rare historical treasure: the Medieval architecture of the Akershus Festning. Protruding out into the fjord as all good defence mechanisms should, the Castle and Fortress was completed in the 1300s and was modernised by King Christian IV from 1637 in the renaissance style. The remaining collection of buildings are clearly visible from the headland, especially at night, when the stonework is lit up along the harbourside. You can freely wander the grounds which are accessible through various cobbled streets and pathways and the interior spaces give quiet respite from the nearby city centre inside the stone defence walls. Home to past royal families, prisoners and occupying Nazis during the Second World War, Akerhus has a central history to the city and is a visual reminder of Oslo’s military past. Further around the waterfront, you reach both Oslo’s Opera House and the city’s latest grand tourist attraction. Norway’s nature is free for all to walk in and so the opera house was built to ameliorate this idea in encouraging visitors to walk upon its roof. Rising from the water, in an ice-berg like formation, the opera house’s angular white marble and glass windows reflect the glassy waters of the fjords. The water often glistens in the morning as the sea fog lifts. As an impressive sunrise crests Oslo’s surrounding hills, the fjords reflect the sky, pouring its pink, orange and milky purples into the water’s glass surface. The opera house blends seamlessly with the water’s reflection and as you climb the steep slopes either side of the protruding glass centre, the city rises around you. You can sit all day atop the roof and look out on one side to the fjord’s archipelago and the other to the hills and forests rising away from the outskirts of the city. This building, though inspired by Norway’s nature in harmony with the water and the sky and not the urbanity, shifts effortlessly into the surrounding increasingly modern waterfront. The opera house adds stark definition to

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the eastern end of the harbour, embracing the community values of its city’s inhabitants, whilst investing in the contemporary architecture that the city of Oslo is fully embracing. Oslo is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities and this is evident in its investment in modern architectural design and construction. Though evidence of historical buildings along the waterfront show paid attention to Oslo’s history, it is clear that the city is prioritising their focus on the future and that future is made out of glass, metal and grand scale. At a first glance, it appeared that Oslo was facing an identity crisis. There is little coherence between the new and old buildings in the city, although the architectural plans attempt to say otherwise. The slick, efficient and modern Nordic style that is so stereotypical of Scandinavian countries has been turned on heat in Oslo. Though its ingenuity and creative approach is inspiring, Oslo must remember that a city needs a cohesive community that is embodied through a collective architectural style. A slower and more gentle approach to recreating this city, whose heritage and history is being knocked to rubble all too quickly, is necessary to ensure these important buildings feel at homeas I do- among the city.





The Good People by Hannah Kent is a moving tale of the longevity of folkloric tradition, and the battles between the rural and the urban; the old and the new. The story is set in a rural village in County Kerry, Ireland between 1825 and 1826, where the locals partake in superstitious rituals and believe in the ‘Good People’ – malevolent fairies. Nóra Leahy’s husband and daughter have both passed away in the space of a few months, leaving Nóra to take sole care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. Micheál was once a beautiful and healthy boy – walking and talking perfectly well at the age of two – however, by the time he is in Nóra’s care, he has lost the use of his legs, can no longer talk or communicate, and cannot control his body. Nóra – ashamed of Micheál – hides him away from the community. However, this does not prevent gossip circulating around the village that Micheál is a ‘changeling’ with the ‘evil eye,’ capable of cursing people. There has been a dearth of resources in the village – the cows are not producing milk and people are suffering from dark tragedies. At a loss for what to do, Nóra enlists the help of her live-in servant Mary, and the village’s elderly wise woman, Nance. Nance is known for her herbal knowledge of ‘the cure,’ bestowed upon her by the Good People. ‘Good People’ is the village’s name for the mischievous fairies of their village, nicknamed as such in order to appease

them. Importantly, they can cause harm in the form of switching healthy children for sickly fairy children – changelings. Nance convinces Nóra that Micheál is indeed a changeling. In order to retrieve her healthy grandson back, the three women will have to use a combination of herbal medicines and supernatural rituals to banish the fairy. Amidst all of this secretive treatment of Micheál, the community is still gossiping. The village’s new priest – Father Leahy – does not approve of superstition and has a vendetta against wise women such as Nance. The villagers begin to believe the Father, and they gossip that Nance is actually responsible for the village’s misfortunes, believing her to be cursing cows by ‘putting the blink on them.’ As Nance’s treatments for Micheál become much more intense, the three women find themselves arrested for murder, and are put on trial in Tralee, a nearby town. The juxtaposition between urban space and rural space is made strikingly clear in the description of Tralee, with ‘its streets of business,’ ‘the fine houses along the promenade,’ and with ‘mail coaches, upright with gentlemen,’ compared to the muddy land of the village. The superstitions and folkloric beliefs in this story are incredibly similar to the ones found in the early modern communities of Europe – fairies, witches and cunning women. The idea

of communal policing and the importance of maintaining one’s reputation. The idea that everything in the universe is interlinked. For every ailment, there is a natural cure – Nance finds beauty in the fact that the plant to cure jaundice is yellow, for example. This idea of a magical, interconnected universe did not necessarily have to be against God – if it was framed correctly. The women insist throughout the novel that what they are doing is in the name of God – they bless every herb they use, and insist that hurting Micheál is not sinful, as they are trying to banish the changeling. Yet, for the official priesthood, this is not good enough – superstition is abhorrent. In this sense, competing ideas about the old and the new, the rural and the urban, medicine and herbalism come to the fore. Despite this superstition, the book highlights that this period is a transitional one. Religious attitudes have massively shifted. During the witch trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, superstitious beliefs were criticised by the clergy for being inherently evil and diabolic. In fact, witchcraft as a concept shifted at the beginning of the early modern period. It changed from being either bad or good to being necessarily bad. If you possessed magical abilities, you must necessarily have made a pact with the Devil and worshipped him. The theoretical concept of witchcraft thus changed from simply performing



harmful acts, to performing harmful acts alongside diabolism. Wise women such as Nance – old, ugly, single, poor – were generally viewed with suspicion during these trying years for their magical practices and beliefs. However, coming forward to 1825, the clergy does not view the women as witches. Father Leahy dislikes their superstition because it is ignorant, not because it is diabolical in nature. Furthermore, the women are not tried for witchcraft or magic; they are tried for murder. In this sense, a major theme running throughout the book is the old ways versus the new ways, and how the changing attitudes of the elites did not necessarily reflect any change in popular belief systems. Within the village, the three women are individuals. They are treated with suspicion by their community and are subject to vicious rumours. Moreover, the village as a whole is an individual one within the wider community of larger, professional, structured urban centres. The domination of towns and cities over villages is evident in this novel. The towns represent wider communities of people, with the village being an individual, ignorant, runt of society. For me, the most interesting aspect of the book is the author’s note at the end. Kent explains that the case of the three women in this novel is based on true nineteenth century trial records. In 1826, Nance Roche was put on trial for the murder of Michael Leahy, who she had drowned in order to ‘put the fairy’ out of him. She was acquitted. Kent consulted with numerous Irish universities and museums, accessing archives and databases. From a very small record, a beautiful story blossomed. It is important that we do not completely forget the old folk beliefs that Kent researched and portrayed so well. They were integral to our ancestors’ lives, and gave their lives a rich meaning and shape.


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DETROIT 23 July, 1967. A police raid of an unlicensed African-American bar in Detroit, Michigan, sparks one of the most destructive riots in modern United States history. The riot would span five days and see sixteen people killed, more than four hundred injured, and the influx of the National Guard into the city. Director Katherine Bigelow’s Detroit commemorates the event’s 50th anniversary. Detroit’s opening motif consists of an animation describing the impact of the Great Migration, which saw the movement of more than six million African Americans northwards from the South, in search of industrial employment. By 1960, the result was overcrowded African-American communities in industrial cities such as Detroit, patrolled by overbearing, mostly white, police. British actors Will Poulter and John Boyega shine as polar-opposite characters. Boyega portrays Melvin Dismukes, an African-American security guard who tries to strike a careful balance between appeasing the city’s police and protecting the young black men finally taking a stand against their subjugation. Conversely, Poulter is worryingly sinister as Philip


Krauss, the personification of police oppression and racial discrimination. His opening scene sees him fatally shoot a young black man in the back who has been looting, as he desperately tries to escape, foreshadowing the further brutality to come at the hands of Krauss. The main plot centres on a single evening during the riot in which the main protagonists, including an R&B group and two young white girls, find themselves together at the Algiers hotel. When one member of the group, Carl, decides to shoot a toy gun as a prank, the police take him for a sniper, storming the hotel and lining the group up against a wall. On entry to the hotel, Krauss shoots Carl as he tries to escape, and demands his detainees admit to possessing a firearm. Krauss and his fellow officers proceed to torture the group of detainees, trying to extract confessions by playing a ‘death game’, in which the shootings of each African-American detainee is staged. It makes for a distressing viewing, with three African-American men being murdered in the ensuing violent scenes. Bigelow’s decision to blend historical footage and news excerpts throughout

the film create a highly realistic viewing experience. The result is an intense and harrowing illustration of the worst kinds of racial violence and what can happen when those who should be protecting society abuse their power. The closing scenes, which fail to see Krauss and his accomplices brought to justice, speak to the endemic nature of racial discrimination embedded in United States’ institutions in the 1960s, which resonates with the ongoing struggles with race relations that the country still faces today. Recent Black Lives Matter and ‘Take a Knee’ protests against ongoing racial prejudice towards the African American community reflect the continued relevance of the important themes which Detroit successfully brings to the fore.



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IS STALIN REALLY DEAD? Armando Iannucci, the director of the new film The Death of Stalin, was inspired by a French graphic novel of the same name in creating his own comedic take on the political turmoil following the death of Stalin. The film is essentially a discourse on the powergrabbing tactics of politicians as well as a social commentary of life under Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for over 30 years. However, journalist Peter Hitchens states that it was possibly inadvisable of Iannucci to make light of such serious events. Can we – should we – laugh at such a serious moment in history, the significance of which we can barely relate to or comprehend? Behind the farce lies a very important issue that has yet to be confronted in Russia. This is Stalin’s cult of personality, or in Russian, культ личности. Stalin worked very hard to craft a God-like status, which did not die along with him. In the film, Stalin’s daughter is astonished at the multitude of people who come to pay their respects to Stalin, who is lying in state in the House of Unions, and wonders if they have come voluntarily. This did happen. In fact, there are reported cases of people being trampled to death in the flood of people taking to the streets after hearing of Stalin’s passing. Even Andrei Sakharov, an antiCommunist activist who was internally exiled in the 1980s, cried upon hearing the news. The 20th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956 is often heralded as the beginning of ‘ottepel’ (thaw), or deStalinization of Russia, due to Khrushchev reading Lenin’s Testament, and its subsequent publication for the general public. In this letter, Lenin urged that Stalin be removed from his position as General Secretary and not be allowed access to power. Damning as this was, a public dismantling of Stalin’s cult of personality never really took place. Consequently and very alarmingly, public approval of Stalin has been on the rise. In 2005, 40 per cent of Russians approved of Stalin; in 2017 this number is now 50 per cent. And yet, as Alexander Minkin quips, Stalin has done nothing since 1953. It is obvious that Russia has a difficulty with confronting and understanding its own past. After all,

62 per cent of the 1200 Russians surveyed this past July support the hanging of plaques commemorating the successes of Stalin, and 33 per cent were indifferent. When Stalin is mentioned in the West, ideas of a totalitarian ruler who systematically killed his own people comes to mind, whereas in Russia the name is synonymous with the Soviet Union’s WWII victory over the Germans and achievement of Communism. This is not only with Stalin. Whilst on my year abroad in Moscow, I visited the library of the old campus building of Moscow State University next to the Red Square. A glass case displayed a series of Russian books called Geniuses of Power, including The Great Churchill and The Great Kennedy. Also included was The Great Beria. The problem lies not in awareness; most Russians are aware of the mass killings and imprisonments during Stalin’s totalitarian reign. The frustrating dilemma is that many consider all of this necessary for the success of the Soviet Union. Minkin suggests another possibility: that most of those who lived under Stalin have died, and the present population simply does not know their history as well as they should. This seems logical. After all, one can never quite out-rule the power of propaganda. With the rise of nationalism in Russia and the deteriorating relationship between the east and west, one thing is for certain. Stalin is still not quite dead in Russia. Considering this, is it still wise to make a comedy about this serious political transitional process, and make light of a figure, who even now poses as a roadblock on Russia’s path to becoming a democratic country? Comedy can still ask the same serious questions. After all, late-night comedians have demonstrated this in the past year of Trump’s administration. Laughter may more often than not invite broader discussion and independent research than a droll, two-hour long biopic. Russian history, at least for much of the twentieth century, is ripe with black humour. The Russians are quite good at laughing at themselves. One recalls a skit from a long-running Russian comedy show

which portrays Stalin calling someone at night, announcing that there will be a car waiting for them in ten minutes, hanging up, and saying ‘Just kidding!’. The style of The Death of Stalin is reminiscent of Iannucci’s earlier work, such as The Thick of It and Veep, and reception of the film in Russia has so far been quite good; the film is to be released in Russia next year. The movie follows the members of the Council of Ministers – Malenkov, Beria, Molotov, and Khrushchev – as they vie for power in the wake of Stalin’s death. As can be imagined, they are depicted, with the exception of Beria, as scheming buffoons, (as contradictory as this may seem), and who constantly bicker with each other. The film, overall, packs a powerful lesson on how destructive and demoralising totalitarian regimes are. It includes many sights of Moscow and uses accurate locations for the events, such as Stalin’s green dacha. The only fault that can be found with the actors is that they come off as too British (except for Khrushchev and Malenkov, who are portrayed by the American actors Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor). Their lines do not correspond with what Russians would say, because Russians tend to be subtler. A case in point is the joke that Jason Isaac’s Marshall Zhukov plays with Khruschev, where Zhukov acts as if he is going to report Khrushchev’s treasonous plan, but then laughs and exclaims ‘Look at your face!’. Meanwhile, Simon Russell Beale marvellously plays Lavrentiy Beria, a repulsive villain made positively unnerving by his omnipresence. His character is definitely one of the less comedic roles. While Hitler had his Himmler, Stalin’s right-hand man in the extermination of his own people was Beria. He represents Stalin’s regime, which is inevitably fading away in the wake of the Council’s decision to distance itself from terror tactics and release of prisoners from Gulags, as well as those imprisoned in the Doctor’s plot. The release of petty criminals from Gulags was hardly because of humanitarian reasons, it was rather out of the need to lessen a drain on resources. It stands in stark contrast to all the evidence


pointing to Stalin’s intention, had he lived, to begin a new round of terror, similar to that of the late 1930s. In all, the facts presented in the movie, set aside from theatrical exaggeration, such as the Ministers themselves carrying Stalin’s body onto a bed or Stalin’s son giving a speech at his father’s funeral, are mostly accurate. The facts in themselves are absurd enough to warrant laughter and hopefully this movie will invite public interest in Russian history and culture, further breaking down the East-West divide and the negative stereotypes of Russia. As regards to Stalin, the issue is more problematic. Jason Isaacs, asked in an interview about the viability of making a similar comedy about Trump, provides a perfect answer: ‘someone needs to remove him from office, and then we can laugh ’. Considering the revitalization and rehabilitation of Stalin’s image in Russia, it is difficult to imagine comedy having any power at all. Perhaps that is a reason as to why such a comedy is acceptable even among Russians. Besides comedy, it is difficult to say what can be done on this issue. All there is to do now is simply wait and watch, preferably with stake in hand, in case Stalin rises again.





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ART, UNION AND HOPE “Sir, they have attacked La Moneda. They say President Allende took his own life. The military is taking over. You should leave soon, Mr. Gamboa. They are holding all foreigners as hostages!” “I cannot leave. Not without my paintings.” “But Mr. Gamboa, this is a matter of life and death. They will be here soon. God knows what they are capable of.”

David Alfaro Siqueiros. They were both communists.’ “Another argument in my favour. The moment they know these are communist paintings they will shoot you dead.” “Better me than the paintings. Better me than the paintings. These have to be taken back to Mexico. Before it is too late.”

“Help me to unhang the paintings, soon. There is no time to be lost. Is anyone else here that can help us?”

“I wonder if we will make it out of this alive, Mr. Gamboa. All the paintings are upstairs, now. What do we do?”

“No one is here anymore, Mr. Gamboa. I insist you go to the Mexican embassy.”

“We eat. And we wait. And I need to call Martinez Corbala. He has to know we are here and that we have the paintings. He might help us escape.”

“I’m only a museographer. They won’t care about me.” “Mr. Gamboa, these men are following blind orders. For all they know, you’re an enemy of Chile. They will come here, and they will take you. Please, leave soon.” “Damned armed brutes! This is the Museum of Fine Arts!” Dawn was approaching. Santiago de Chile was facing its most fateful day. Blood had been spilled. Anyone who had ever worked for the Socialist party was being arrested and tortured. Anyone who ever had ever praised Salvador Allende was being arrested and tortured. And anyone that stood in front of the military was either shot, or arrested and then tortured. “Now, we must carefully take these paintings upstairs to the second level. We’ll have to hurry and make several trips.” “As you say Mr. Gamboa. I was commissioned to guard this museum. And that I will do.” “You are a good man indeed. Now, if we survive, we will have time to congratulate each other.” “Who painted this one?” “Diego Rivera. And that other one

“Do you think it will matter? To the military. When they come. Do you think they will stop and listen to you?” “In times like this, one cannot expect anything. Just act and have hope.” Foreigners from all over Latin America were asking for refuge at the Mexican embassy in Santiago de Chile. Everyone was treated with suspicion – especially foreigners. Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Venezuelans and Mexicans arrived at the embassy expecting to reach safety. Hoping to be saved from the military. In the meantime, Mr. Gamboa and the guard of the Museum of Fine Arts, were waiting for the right moment to transport the paintings. Expecting that they would get a safe conduct soon. Hoping they will make it out of the museum alive. But there had not been an answer from the Mexican ambassador. Not yet. “It is so sad that the Chilean people won’t see these paintings.” “They will, someday. That is the reason why we must get them out of here safely.” “What do they mean, anyway?” “They symbolise unity. The unity of Latin American people with its fate.



DIEGO RIVERA, Zapatista Landscape, 1915




With its past and its history. It is our struggling history as nations that have not been granted the right to develop themselves. They symbolise our fight. Our fight to achieve fraternity and justice. Equality for all. These paintings symbolise that. And they symbolise our suffering, too.” “Do you hear that? I heard a gunshot. They’re here.” “Hold your ground, good man. Hold your ground.” “What are you doing? Another gunshot! They are pointing to the museum!” “I will go and talk to them. Maybe their General will listen to me.” “Mr. Gamboa, they won’t! You will get yourself killed. And they’ll get in. And they’ll set ablaze the whole place. With the paintings inside. You don’t have a safe conduct, yet.” “Yes, you’re right – it would not make any difference. Turn off all the lights. Quickly. Before they get closer. They might think everyone left. They came for people. If they see people, hatred will devour them, and they will kill.” “And what if they want to burn the place anyway?” “Then we stand our ground. I will. But certainly, you do not have to stay. Do you not have a family?” “I will stay. I was commissioned to guard this museum. And I will guard it. If they try to light a fire, well…” “It will happen regardless. It was nice sharing these couple of days with you. Write a letter. Go to that room and use a candle to write a letter for your family. I will too. And we will hide them in the basement, where fire will not reach them.”

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taking refuge in there. But the museum was drowned in darkness. The military could inspect the place. But they did not. They left. Their insatiable ferocity was pacified. Maybe they had too much blood in the past few days. Maybe they wanted a rest from the blood. And so, they waited. Mr. Gamboa and the guard of the museum. They waited in the darkness until the military left. Until they could take the paintings away, back to Mexico. “The Chileans will have to wait. For now, it is a time of mourning. A time to mourn the defeat of democracy in Latin America. Because if it has failed in Chile, it has failed throughout Latin America. We are one. You and I are not different. I might be from Mexico, but we are one. And we have to remember that. That is another meaning of these paintings. Of the wonderful legacies by Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros.” “I will retain hope, Mr. Gamboa. As you said. Hope that these paintings will come back to Chile. And hope that I will be alive to see that happen.” On 13 September 1973, an exhibition was expected to launch at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago de Chile. An exhibition with paintings of the Mexican artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. A military coup interrupted the exhibition. Fernando Gamboa, a Mexican museographer, stayed at the museum, while other foreigners were asking for freedom to leave the country. Gamboa, along with the guard of the museum, kept the paintings safe. Safe from the hands of hatred and lust for power. The paintings were taken back to Mexico along with hundreds of foreigners and Chilean refugees, persecuted by the military junta of Augusto Pinochet. Along with the family of Salvador Allende. The exhibit was named ‘The Pending Exhibit’. Because pending it was. However, in 2015, the exhibition was finally opened to the Chilean public.

And so, they waited. Mr. Gamboa and the guard of the museum. The military arrived. Their shots reached the exterior of Santiago de Chile’s LUIS MONROY majestic Museum of Fine Arts. The military stood outside the place. Neighbours said that foreigners were



A LETTER FROM GALLIPOLI Dear Fraser, Son, as I write this letter my ears are full of the sound of booming shells landing on the powdered ground just a wee bit further than a mile away. Yesterday, foreign gunfire showered us, sending clouds of dust to swallow us. I’d say I was flat on my stomach for well over an hour. I think by now I have become pals with the woodlice and all the creepy-crawlies that live deep under the crusty earth. I have been told it is much safer where they live. Thank you for the pork pies you sent me. They were magic! Did you make them yourself or did your mother and sister help? Son, it was the best thing I have eaten in weeks. I am scunnered with jam and biscuits. When I return home, please never buy that sticky substance for me again. I am more than finished with that fly-catching demon! We arrived in Achi Baba early this week and as I am sure you have heard, the landings are already in progress. Gallipoli is a bonnie place and it really is a shame that it is being destroyed more and more each day. I do enjoy the view here; the rolling hills and the giant sandstone forts are sights I will never forget, so for now, I do not whine or complain. It is important to keep us soldiers as happy as possible, so we regularly write and talk about you lot back home. The land is dry here, no lochs like at home, it’s not at all what we are used to and the heat is our main enemy. I miss the deep mud when it rains and the cold crisp breeze that catches you when you go out to fetch milk. What is the weather in Scotland at the moment, Frasey? As time ticks on, little changes. We seem to be digging, shooting or throwing mills bombs until the last rays of sun begin to fade. A blanket of fire washes across the pale blue sky at around 1900. Streaks of deep blood red remind us of the brave men and friends we have lost during this war. The land is dry and barren, with an odd patch of withering grass popping up every one hundred metres or so.




Sometimes I compare myself to that grass, slowly becoming more tired and more dehydrated. Sometimes I even think I may look like the grass, drained of all colour and dry. At night when we lie on the dusty firm ground, I imagine that I can see the silhouettes of fallen trees that once stood tall and proud swaying back and forward, bowing to the grand mountains that tower behind them. I sadly have to report the untimely death of Tamhas who we knew from church. He was a great soldier and friend and we will miss his presence greatly. I regret to write about his death but it is important to inform you all back home. Red ink-like liquid slowly dripped down from a bullet hole in his neck as he was lying in my arms. I still have the stubborn stains on my jacket sleeves. Every time I look at them, I can hear him crying and asking me to tell his family how much he loves them and misses them. When I return home, I need to pass his message on to those who loved him. I can tell you that Tamhas died with a smile on his lips and a light in his eyes, despite the fact he resented leaving his wife and bairns. May he rest in peace. I would ask you all to comfort his family during this time of heartbreak. I hate to enlighten you on such sorrowful matters but a brave boy like yourself, Frasey, should understand the war’s consequences and current affairs. Sadly, a couple of yards to the left of where I am now, the rotting corpses lie. The bodies of those who scarcely resemble the great men they were are piled up while their souls leave and watch over us. I hate to admit that the bodies left behind have created a nose squeezing, stomach-churning stench worse than anything I have ever encountered. The lads came up with a plan to quickly release the gas that builds up inside a dead body, by pumping the rotting corpses with bullets to create holes for the gas to escape. No matter how many bullets we fill them with, the stench never

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gets better. In fact, it worsens and seeps into every nook and cranny in the trench. Now despite the news I have shared, I do not want you to worry about me not returning home, because I promise I will. I swear to you. I have picked up remnants of shells and a few wee souvenirs that I look forward to giving you all. Frasey, I want you to know that when I kill men, I do not think of them as other men, but as monsters who I am trying to eradicate for the sake of my family. ‘I shame to keep a heart so white’, as Shakespeare once wrote of Macbeth. However, I know this will all change when I return home. I have seen how war damages men, so be sure to be patient with me. God has kept me alive during my time in the Gallipoli peninsula, so I am sure He can keep me safe from my nightmares. Just remember, you always need a little rain to have a rainbow. I miss you all so much, my loves, and I can’t wait to see you all when I return. I love you so much my precious Fraser and thank you for all your inspiring letters. And thank your sister for her freshly knitted socks from me, would you? Your words are truly what keeps me going. You are all the reason you are reading this letter. Love always, Your father Alasdair. P.S. - Could you please send some more paper and lead, as I have nearly run out? Thanks, lad. Be sure to take care of your mother and sister, their letters will follow shortly. Sending love from Gallipoli to you, my boy.


St Thomas of Aquin’s High School




Based in St Thomas of Aquin’s High School, History for Schools (HFS) is a programme which aims at accomplishing two things: Firstly, supporting pupils who require extra assistance in their learning of History, and secondly, fostering a sense of academic tenacity and self-motivation amongst the students. The programme involves carefully-selected volunteers, lecturers, high school teachers, and naturally, high school students. History for Schools (HFS) is led by two passionate lecturers with ample experience in Widening Participation, Dr Adam Budd and Dr David Silkenat. Dr. Budd not only teaches the PDGE course for those training to become school teachers but also leads a joint Edinburgh Global and Salaam Baalak Trust programme, bringing educational support to children in the slums of Delhi, India. Similarly, Dr. Silkenat has worked extensively with children that have additional support needs and he has spent many years as a History secondary school teacher in the US. Together, they provide

excellent insights, advice and support to the volunteers. Furthermore, the programme would not be possible if it did not have the full support of Miss Katie Hunter, St Thomas’s History teacher, who has opened up her classroom to the programme and provides continuous guidance and support, not only to her pupils, but to the volunteers as well.

students’ struggles in at school. The University of Edinburgh, aware of this problem, is trying to interact with local high schools to not only support students’ education, but make itself more approachable as well. History for Schools is built upon the University’s initiative and aims at helping students further engage with their studies and increasing their learning expectations.

As volunteers, we arrive 10 minutes before lesson begin, signing into the school and placing our belongings in the faculty office. We then make our way to the class and greet the pupils as they arrive. As we are usually aware of the lessons contents in advance, we then make ourselves present and available for the students who are likely to need help. In my experience so far, once you have made it clear you are there to help, pupils will happily ask you for it. And I can tell you it feels great seeing them becoming more comfortable – not only with the volunteers – but also in their own learning.

Taking a more topical approach, the University is also helping to relieve a school system under pressure with teachers facing growing class sizes, an increasing workload due to educational reforms, and teacher shortages due to declining work conditions.

Scotland’s high schools differ significantly from one to another, and students’ background constitute the biggest influential factor in this matter. This phenomenon is reflected in

The History for Schools programme is currently only taking place within one school and is showing many benefits to the students. There is large room for growth, however, and it would be great to see this idea being further developed with the support of more schools and volunteers.




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STUDENT RESOURCE ROOM Here at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology we are fortunate to have our Student Resource Room. As the SRR Co-ordinator this year, I have the pleasure of helping to look after the Resource Room and its eight fantastic collections, which are available to all staff and students here at HCA. All of these collections are vast and have come from significant academic figure’s personal collections, which were donated to the school, and have continued to flourish thanks to the tradition of donating books. These books are housed in the Student Resource Room itself – in the William Robertson Wing of the Old Medical School – on floors 2m and 3, as well as in Room 3.13, which is home to the Scottish Collection. As this issue of Retrospect is about individuals and communities, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain how lucky we are as an academic community to have such large, varied collections available to us. Within some of these collections are books which have been passed down by important figures of HCA’s history at Edinburgh. Individuals such as Jim McMillan, a European historian and previous head of the School; the Sellar and Goodhart collection, which is

named after two of Edinburgh’s most influential classics professors; and Jim Compton whose American history collection of 2,000 books boasts some of the only known copies of certain publications of its kind in Scotland. Each of these collections has been passed down to us as a school, so that the books and articles that once inspired these great academics may continue to inspire students for generations to come. However, these collections are currently under-used. This year, my priority as Co-ordinator – which is supported by 20 fantastic volunteers – is to help our community here at HCA to discover the potential in our collections and to continue the tradition of sharing knowledge and inspiration to future generations here at Edinburgh.




Partition: Identity in a Divided Community Primary Sources Commission of Inquiry, Justice Nanavati, < http://www. Nanavati-I_eng.pdf> Suleri, S. Meatless Days in Butalia, U. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India, (London, 2000) Interview with the ‘Lucknow Sisters’, in Menon, R. & Bhasin, K., Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition, (New Delhi, 1998) Interview with ‘Taran’ in Menon, R. & Bhasin, K. Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition, (New Delhi, 1998) Interview with Rafi bhai in Zamindar, V. The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia, (New York, 2007) Secondary Sources Bose, S. & Jalal, A. Modern South Asia, (London, 2004) Butalia, U. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India, (London, 2000) Ganguly, S. The Origins of War in South Asia: Indo-Pakistani Conflicts since 1947, (Oxford, 1994) Hasan, M. India Partioned: the other face of freedom vol. 1, (New Delhi, 1995) Hasan, M. (ed.) India’s Partition: Process, Strategy and Mobilisation, (Delhi, 1994) Menon, R. & Bhasin, K. Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition, (New Delhi, 1998) Pandey, G. Remembering Partition, (Cambridge, 2001) Tan, T. & Kudaisya, G. The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia, (London, 2000) Zamindar, V. The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia, (New York, 2007) A ‘Singaporean’ National Identity Ang, Ien and Jon Stratton. “The Singapore Way of Multiculturalism: Western Concepts/Asian Cultures.” Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (1995): 65-89. Brooks, Ann. “The Politics of Location in Southeast Asia: Intersecting Tensions around Gender, Ethnicity, Class and Religion.” Asian Journal of Social Science (2003): 86-106. Durdin, Peggy. “Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore: A Profile.” Asian Affairs (1974): 151-169. Gauhar, Altaf. “Lee Kuan Yew.” Third World Quarterly (1979): 1-6. MacDougall, John A. “Birth of a Nation: National Identification in Singapore.” Asian Survey (1976): 510-524. Quah, Jon S. T. “Singapore: Towards a National Identity.” Southeast Asian Affairs (1977): 207-219. Singapore Government. National Anthem. 3 February 2017. 13 November 2017. Wikipedia. Group Representation Constituency. 22 August 2017. 10 November 2017. Zakaria, Fareed. “Culture Is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew.” Foreign Affairs (1994): 109-126. The Rise and Fall of Christendom Chadwick, Owen, The Penguin History of the Church Volume III: The Reformation, (Penguin: London, 1964). Greengrass, Mark, Christendom Destroyed: Europe 15171648, (Allen Lane: London, 2014). Keen, Maurice, The Penguin History of Medieval Europe, (Penguin: London, 1969). Kissinger, Henry, World Order, (Allen Lane: New York, 2014). Steinberg, SH, The Thirty Years’ War and the Conflict for European Hegemony 1600-1660, (WN Norton & Company: New York, 1967). 200 Years of Jewish Communities in Scotland: Past, Present and Future? Avram, Taylor, ‘Glasgow but not quite of it’? Eastern European Jewish immigrants in a provincial Jewish community from c.1890 to c.1945,’ Continuity and Change, 28:3, (2013), 451-477 Collins, K.E. (ed), Aspects of Scottish Jewry, (Glasgow, 1987). Collins, Dr K.E., Be Well!: Jewish Immigrant Health & Welfare in Glasgow; 1860-1914 (Glasgow, 2002). Collins, K.E., Scotland’s Jews – A Guide to the History and Community of the Jews in Scotland, (Glasgow, 1999).

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