ISSUE 32 | MAR 2019
religion,culture, & environment
The Space Race in Mass Culture The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake May 1968: Cultural Revolution? Spirit Mediums and ZANLA Etruscan Cultural Domination PLUS: Exclusive Interview with Dr. Lee
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Contents ARTICLES Soviet Censorship...................................................................... 4
Samizdat: The Voice of Truth...................................................... 5
Laura Ali Will Kerrs
Devotional Revolution: Ireland 1850 -1900............................. 7
Heads of Design
Sean Jones Leyla Ozcan
Head of Copy-Editing
The Women of the French Salons.............................................. 9
Head of Online
Texan Identity and The Alamo................................................. 10
Heads of Marketing
Tessa Bawden Holly Gaffney
Chinatowns’ Journey Through America................................... 11
Ningjing Liu Jessica Kelly Urussa Malik
Mughal Empire - A Cultural Golden Age?................................ 13
Kate Jackson Tara Kathleen Morony Annabelle Sharp Reuben Williamson
The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755..................................... 16
Rebecca Bowers Wilf Kenning Hannah Largue
Space Race in Mass Culture....................................................... 6 Sport and Gaelic Revival............................................................ 7 May 1968: A French Cultural Revolution?................................. 8 Decline of Religion in Twentieth Century Europe...................... 9
Jazz and African American Identity.......................................... 11 Orient at Home: The Popularity of Orientalism in Colonial Britain...................................................................................... 12 Vietnmese Boat People........................................................... 13
INTERVIEW Korean Environmental History with Dr. Lee........................14-15
Racial Hierarchies in Colonial Brazil........................................ 16 The Jewish Witches................................................................. 17 Trial by Ordeal: A Brief History................................................. 17 Architecture in Almería: Moorish Occupation Impacts............ 18 Exploring the Sunni-Shia Split within Islam............................ 18 Bolshevism, Islam & Self-Determination................................. 19 Wagner: Hitler’s Idol............................................................... 20 Russian Roots of Socialist Realism.......................................... 20 The Duality of Frida Kahlo....................................................... 21 The Cult of Bacchus in Rome................................................... 22 Etruscan Cultural Domination................................................. 23 Origins of the Atlantis Myth.................................................... 23 Finding Prester John............................................................... 24 Spirit Mediums and ZANLA..................................................... 24 Life of Rachel Carson............................................................... 25 Life of Dylan Thomas............................................................... 25
BOOK REVIEWS Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry.................... 26 Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490 -1700 by Diarmaid MacCulloch.............................................................. 26
Marketing Team Phil Manktelow SPECIAL THANKS - The staff at the University of Manchester’s Graphic Support Workshop for their valuable assistance and advice throughout the design process. - Thank you to our staff-student liason within the History department, Dr. Vernon, for providing oversight of the magazine ahead of publication. IMAGE CREDITS Front Cover: - Soviet Space Race Propaganda Poster, Flashbak - Marcus Aurelius sacrificing at the Temple of Jupiter, Wikimedia Commons - Lisbon Earthquake 1755 Painting, About-History Article Backgrounds and Additional Motifs: - Page 8 - ‘La Lutte Continue’, Libcom - Page 9 - Floral wallpaper, Pinterest - Page 14-15 - Korea forest background, Wallpaper Up - Page 16 - Lisbon map, Res Obscura - Page 22 - Satyr Wine Barrel Grapes, VectorStock - Page 23 - Etruscan art work, Von Verity
Orientalism by Edward Said ................................................... 26
A Note from the Editors
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
We continue this year with issue 32 ‘Religion, Culture, and Environment’. These themes are particularly relevant in light of current events such as the students’ environmental protests across Europe, and continuing religious issues such as the Rohingya crisis or the Vatican shakedown on sexual abuse.
On culture, Russia and the USSR is a clear favourite of our writers, with articles including a survey of Samizdat (page 5), a comparative look at space race culture in the USSR and USA, as well as an art history piece discussing the 19th century roots of Socialist Realism. Likewise, the USA is as popular as ever, with this issue’s articles focusing on the experience of minorities and construction of local On environmental history, we interviewed Dr. Lee (pages identities including the development of Chinatowns (page 14-15), discussing its principles, and the importance of 11), the role of Jazz in African-American identity (page 11), its study, especially in today’s world. His recent academic and the Alamo to Texan identity (page 10). article, ‘Postwar Pines [...]’ (The Journal of Asia Studies 77) - which investigated the forestry policies of the Chosŏn A global focus is also still our intention, with articles dynasty in Korea (1392-1897) - was also discussed, with including a consideration of the Mughal Empire as a topics such as the impact of the Imjin War, the role of the ‘cultural golden age’ (page 13), racial hierarchies in colonial pine tree in Korean culture, and the Mongolian invasion’s Brazil (page 16), and the Vietnamese boat people (page 13). cultural legacy. Articles on religion with a non-European focus include Some of our favourite environmental history articles a look at the relationship between Spirit Mediums and include the impact of the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 on ZANLA (page 24), and the causes and impacts of Sunnicontemporary philosophers (page 16), and the life of Shia Split (page 18). Rachel Carson (page 25), whose work is considered to be Our book reviews section (page 26) includes a range of the genesis of environmental history. further reading on this issue’s articles, including Orientalism Turning to religion, we continue our aim of including a by Edward Said, and Mythos by Stephen Fry. wide temporal scope. Our articles with the earliest scope include questioning whether there was Etruscan cultural Finally, our new podcast service is up and running, and domination of Italy to speak of following the 9th century we are looking for authors, whether published or not, BC (page 23), and a discussion of Bacchic cults in the late to talk about the topics they are most passionate about. Roman Republic (page 22). More recent topics include the Our recent podcasts can be found on our website, www. Prester John myth (page 24), and the ‘devotional revolution manchesterhistorian.com. Also, don’t forget that you can thesis’ in 19th century Ireland (page 7). access all back issues of The Manchester Historian via www. issuu.com!
Will Kerrs and Laura Ali
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Visual Records and Censorship in Russia
Although censorship was never officially defined, it was one of the most important means of not only controlling Soviet society, but also ensuring the predominance of the Communist Party and its leaders. Additionally, it is important to note the various types of censorship. Alongside selfcensorship, there was also preliminary and posterior censorship. The former is when information is suppressed once it is created but before it is distributed, whilst the latter defines when the government confiscates questionable publications once they have been published or punishes the journalist or publisher. In order to understand how censorship operates within a state and whether this still occurs today, this article will look at visual records, art censorship and finally censorship over time, from the Soviet Union until the present day. One way in which visual records were censored was through photographic revisionism; this began under Lenin and was used to a much greater extent from the 1930s. Censoring photos was part of a bigger aim to systematically falsify history, a project which began chiefly under Stalin. This was done through blacked-out faces in books and doctoring photographs to remove unwanted figures. Two types of people were removed from the visual record under the Soviet regime. Firstly, there were people who were murdered and had their revolutionary pasts destroyed and replaced with new narratives as terrorist agents of ‘the West’. Secondly, there were those who simply disappeared after 1930 and were not heard of again for decades. Whilst workers and political liabilities were removed from images, Stalin himself was added to places he had never been. For example, Stalin had photos doctored to place himself side by side with Lenin.
Nevertheless, doctored photographs can still be useful pieces of evidence as they allow us to consider why people were added, removed or defaced. Initially Western observers failed to notice the revision of photographs. More recently it has been argued that crude examples of removing people from photographs were done by the Stalinists in the hope that the people who were being written out of history would return or at least to leave a trace, so that people would be able to spot the photographic revisionism. Such falsification has been done throughout time to protect those in positions of power, but it is perhaps more of a rarity now and is no longer practiced Nikoloi Yezhov’s portrait circa 1930s scribbled out following on the scale of the Soviets. However, his execution. The Commissar Vanishes by David King it does beg the question of whether we would even know if photographs have who conform to its prescribed thought been revised in a similar way today. such as the favoured artists under Stalin, and those who produced Soviet, moral art The censorship of art throughout the Soviet under Khrushchev. On the other hand, Union was practiced in order to maintain art censorship excluded and removed the restricted expression of Socialist activists who challenged the forces behind Realism: a style of realist art through censorship. Finally, it can remove all which the Soviet regime aimed to identify evidence of historical events which have the and control the direction of historic potential to damage the particular image or progression and therefore determine the portrayal of events that a government, like correct representation of reality. Socialist the Soviet Union, might seek to promote. realism meant that artists were forced to conform to Soviet viewpoints within Censoring in the Soviet Union meant their works. For example, art of the time that recorded history became incredibly portrayed Stalin as a benevolent patriarch falsified. Officially, through the work of and artists did not depict Stalin’s physical Glavlit, the Soviet Union was prosperous; features, such as his short size and pock- the West often believed this portrayal put marked face, accurately due to fear of forward by the official censorship agency. being punished. However, in February Yet the reality appears to have been one 1956, Nikita Khrushchev formally of relative poverty, terror, and a browdenounced Stalin and subsequently beaten population. Falsification was at the thousands of works of art of the Stalinist heart of the Soviet Union, used to create period, especially those depicting him, a dream-like condition, but to little avail. were destroyed or hidden and disappeared from art history books. Yet Khrushchev Now, however, censorship is forbidden. himself said that he would not spend a The question of whether mass censorship kopek on art that he considered amoral, still exists today is a question that is not anti-Soviet and art that praised the ‘free exclusive to Russia, as it arises across world’ of the West. This illustrates how the globe especially in countries that art censorship can offer benefits to those have experienced similar authoritarian and corrupt regimes. Whilst preliminary censorship is no longer present in postSoviet Russia, posterior censorship still plays a role within Russian politics. For example, journalists are intimidated when classified as being too activist and antigovernment in their views. Moreover, Russia was ranked as ‘poor’ by the 2003 world press freedom ranking. Since the war in Chechnya, murders and abductions have been censored. Consequently, although censorship may not be as glaringly obvious today in Russia as it was in the Soviet Union, it is very much alive, especially posterior censorship. Soviet leadership, The Commissar Vanishes by David King
Caitlin Touhey www.manchesterhistorian.com
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Samizdat: The Voice of Truth Alternative Culture in the USSR
Under the harsh rule of the Soviet Union, even ideas were suppressed. The widespread persecution of dissidents meant sharing new ideas was not only controversial - it was dangerous. However, many brave citizens continued to produce writing that defied Soviet censorship laws and shaped the dissident movement. This writing was known as samizdat. Samizdat was the practice of covertly publishing and circulating banned and controversial literature under Soviet censorship. The term literally translates to “published by me”, referring to the autonomy of those who wrote and produced it. It could be fiction or non-fiction literature. The covert distribution of banned music was known as magnitizdat (referring to reproduced tapes) or roentgenizdat (referring to reproduced vinyl records). Most notable examples of samizdat were produced between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1970s, as earlier Stalinist punishments for violating censorship laws were so extreme even the bravest dissidents dared not risk it.
Surviving examples of Samizdat., WIkipedia
Samizdat is notable in terms of general literary history for its form. As printing presses were heavily restricted by the state, most contraband literature was produced on a typewriter, often littered with errors and wear and tear. The actual form and content of samizdat varied wildly, including novels, poems, and periodicals. The repression of the state meant that it was not only political literature that was banned and needed covert publication, but many works of fiction too. The first notable example of samizdat was the novel ‘Dr Zhivago’, by Boris Pasternak. Although the book contained no overtly anti-government sentiment, the focus on individual characters and their feelings rather than the common good, as well as the positive depiction of the pre-revolution upper class, led to it being banned. Despite this, the novel was distributed throughout the RSFSR in pieces, eventually making it to America where it won the Nobel Prize for literature. Works could also be
banned due to the reputation of the author rather than the writing itself. Poet, Joseph Brodsky, had his work banned due to his bohemian lifestyle, preferring poetry to manual labour, with the state accusing him of “social parasitism”. Other notable writers and publishers of samizdat include the poet Akhmatova, and the author and historian Solzhenitsyn. To read samizdat, one had to first be educated and, secondly, know other readers. This meant the readers were generally confined to the Russian intelligentsia, who also constituted most of the authors. However, most regions had their own samizdat movements, with nationalism and religious freedom being common topics. Czechoslovakia, for example, had a high number of Catholic samizdat periodicals in circulation due to the traditional religious practices of the area and the religious oppression of the Soviet state. It is hard to assess the impact samizdat had on the beliefs and actions of the Soviet people who read it due to its very nature - secrecy was essential to its continued circulation. Modern historians tend to emphasise the importance of samizdat in keeping political resistance alive in the Soviet Union’s latter years, but this is debatable. Many of those involved in the movement did believe in its power for change; Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of one of the most significant works of samizdat ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, claimed samizdat was so vitally important because “one word of truth will change the course of the entire world”. However, whether or not samizdat did change the world (or at least the state of the Soviet Union) is hard to ascertain. As mentioned previously, although some samizdat was overtly political, some was merely literature that did not align with Soviet values. Additionally, the mix of opinions that we can see in surviving pieces of samizdat make it hard to identify any coherent ideological or political movement that drove the majority of publishers.
helping illuminate the human rights abuses that were taking place under the Soviet government. A New York Times article from 1970, entitled ‘Samizdat is Russia’s Underground Press’, explores the movement as a whole and is strongly sympathetic to the political dissidents leading it, focusing on the publishers of the Chronicle of Current Events, a publication that charts the state’s human rights abuses. Samizdat smuggled out of the Soviet Union was a powerful tool in informing the rest of the world of what was happening inside the nation. Admitting to possessing samizdat literature would put the reader in danger of reprisals from the state, which varied from region to region but were generally severe. The relaxation of censorship laws under Khrushchev in the 1960s had led to a boom in samizdat, though this changed with the Sinyavsky-Daniel trial, where two samizdat writers whose works had been smuggled and published abroad were tried for anti-Soviet propaganda. They were treated particularly harshly as they had both published abroad and used pen names, both of which were forbidden. This led to the end of Khrushchev’s thaw and further persecution of those involved in samizdat. One notable example of this new persecution is the “Trial of the Four” in 1968, where four samizdat publishers were charged with anti-Soviet agitation and sentenced to several years in a forced labour camp. Despite this, samizdat continued to be circulated and gave a voice to those who defied the Soviet government’s oppression. As the Soviet songwriter and dissident Galich described samizdat, “what’s read in whispers, thunders”.
‘‘Samizdat had a powerful impact outside of the state, reaching the American press and helping illuminate the human rights abuses that were taking place under the Soviet government.’’ While it is hard to ascertain the impact of samizdat on dissidents with the Soviet Union, we can see that samizdat had a powerful impact outside of the state, reaching the American press and
‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ by Solzhenitsyn, Penguin Books
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Space Race in Mass Culture The Space Race is unquestionably a symbol of everything the Cold War stood for: ideological differences, the fight for international supremacy, and demonstration of superpower innovation. While the United States won the Cold War when the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the Space Race highlights a period where both East and West were on level pegging. This has prompted figures like George Carey (creator of BBC documentary, Storyville: Knocking on Heaven’s Door) to claim that victory fell into the hands of the Soviets. However, many historians have overlooked the profound cultural impact the Space Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on the Moon’s surface, NASA via Happy Mag Race had on both the United States and the Soviet Union. These cultures would be which in many ways may hold the key to like Neil Armstrong, people like Gagarin completely different, shaping each nation’s our future on Earth’. This narrative would became national heroes, embodiments of a ultimately bear fruit with the successes of nation’s technological innovation. Despite unique ideology and identity. the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 that saw the this, the Vnukovo documentary signposts Astonishingly, despite having a superior first men land on the moon. a major difference to American Space financial and technological advantage, the Race culture. It was clearly manipulated United States suffered early hindrances in Late triumphs in the Space Race would by the Soviet press, seeing Kohonen argue the Space Race. The most famous example instigate mass commercialisation of the ‘the material… coloured and modified the is America’s first attempt to launch a Space Race, bringing organisations like truth, covered faults, hid, and abjectly satellite into orbit in the form of the NASA into popular culture. In addition, lied’. Therefore, this really begs the Vanguard TV3, that exploded on launch space exploration would be subject (and question: was there a genuine Space Race due to a suspected fuel malfunction. still is) to the Hollywood treatment with culture within the Soviet Union? Or, was While some domestic news outlets like the production of classic films such as it directly engineered by the post-Stalin the Daily Herald adopted a witty attitude Ridley Scott’s Alien and Stanley Kubrick’s Soviet leadership to push Khrushchev’s coining the term ‘Flopnik’, it was a serious 2001: A Space Odyssey. Moreover, agenda of revisionism? While there is a matter for the US government. The Soviets astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz strong argument in favour of the Soviets successfully launched their first satellite, Aldrin would receive a similar treatment to winning the Space Race, the culture that beating the USA also to produce the first American soldiers, highlighting a dramatic followed does seem too artificial when we ICBM missile in 1957. The Eisenhower shift in American culture and mindsets see appreciate the social and economic Administration was grossly troubled towards space. This transformation would issues present in the USSR. by these events, encouraging increased see a rebirth in American national pride, expenditure for the American space boosted by victory in the Cold War: a To conclude, the Space Race will remain program. This consensus would continue romanticised vision of the United States one of the most highly debated periods of into the 1960s, with President Kennedy that is still present in the minds of many the Cold War due to its symbolic efficacy. It seems clear now that the cultures that using a speech to Congress to present his Americans today. followed in the US and the Soviet Union thoughts on the Space Race. In his speech he stated: ‘Now it is time to take longer By contrast, the Soviet Union had initial were quite contrary. While America strides—time for a great new American success in the Space Race, launching the suffered early setbacks in 1957, their enterprise—time for this nation to take a Sputnik satellite in October 1957 and financial and scientific advantages would clearly leading role in space achievement, putting the first animal and human in space. provide a massive boost, allowing them The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, to finally launch the Apollo 11 mission in wanted to use this astonishing success as 1969. This precipitated a rejuvenation an opportunity to boost the Soviet Union’s of American national pride influencing standing on the international stage – a the attitudes of Americans and major significant component of his revisionist industries such as Hollywood. However, attitude. Historian Iina Kohonen reveals in unforeseen early Soviet success in the her captivating book, Picturing the Cosmos, Space Race was used in a distinctive that leaders in the USSR controlled imagery manner. It was deployed as a means of and Space Race culture to the finest detail. promoting communism on the world A notable case is a 1961 documentary that stage through a firmly controlled media, showed Yuri Gagarin (the first man in pinpointed in the documentary footage space) arriving at Vnukovo Airport: the red of Gagarin’s 1961 arrival at Vnukovo carpet was carefully laid out with a crowd Airport. Soviet Space Race culture has of spectators gathered and Khrushchev therefore been criticised by historians like waiting to greet Gagarin. These early Kohonen for being ‘artificial’, engineered successes in the Space Race were used by with the sole purpose of promoting Soviet the Soviet leadership to trigger social and innovation and Khrushchev’s contentious political change, attempting to create a doctrine of revisionism. ‘heroic mythos’ of the perfect Soviet man – a devout family man and communist – Jack Ulyatt like Gagarin. As with American figures Space Race era Soviet propaganda, Fine Art America
Devotional Revolution: Ireland 1850-1900 As a result of the Famine in Ireland, there was a huge surge in overall religious devotion. By the end of the nineteenth century, Catholicism had moved away from ritualistic worship to a scriptural and standardised practice. The evolving state of religion and its increased influence over the Irish population was intrinsically linked with many social changes that took place in Ireland over the second half of the nineteenth century. An accurate placement of the devotional revolution within a timeline of Irish history is difficult due to the possibility that religious change was beginning to take hold before the Famine. However, the beginning of structured and significant change can be assigned to the Synod of Thurles in 1850. Held by Archbishop of Armagh, Paul Cullen, it marked the first Catholic synod since 1642. Cullen set out to standardise practices of the personnel within the Catholic Church, and a major part of the Catholic revival
Sport and Gaelic Revival Emerging in Ireland during the latter 19th century, Gaelic Revival was a cultural movement that sought to re-invigorate the Irish nation’s cultural heritage. A renewed interest in Gaelic sporting practice represented one key aspect of this process. The movement soon became associated with nationalist discourses and antiBritish sentiment.
GAA Hurlers, RTE
Ireland possesses a long and fertile sporting history: a precursor to Gaelic football can be found as early as the 1600’s. First popularised in the Irish countryside, hurling’s beginnings lie even further back, and are frequently assimilated into Irish mythology. Táin Bó Cúailnge, an historical epic dated to the early Middle Ages, details the exploits of a Gaelic warrior-hero who murders an aggressive hound by hurling a ball down his throat. Participation in
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 became the significant increase in the number of Catholic clergy in comparison to the diminished Post-Famine Catholic population, as well as the reformation of their behaviour. Prior to the devotional revolution, there had been widespread drunkenness and disorderly behaviour amongst undisciplined clergy throughout Ireland which had damaged the authority they had over the population. Changes to the numbers of the clergy and their behaviour coincided with the construction Prayer at the site of the Apparition of Knock, Broadsheet.ie of more churches and convents that were being built alongside other Catholic practice and its standardisation became institutions such as hospitals, asylums and the basis for wider social change. orphanages. There was a mass Catholic revival in The rise in numbers of religious personnel Ireland after the Famine and it was this and the broadening of their reach meant religious shift that was integral to other that the Catholic Church had more social changes that were taking place. The influence over the decreased population devotional revolution was a modernising in Post-Famine Ireland. Control of force within Ireland as the existing religious the Catholic Church was then further landscape was repurposed into a more consolidated by their hand in providing commercial and modern environment. The education. An example that perfectly increasingly interventionist agenda of the demonstrates the changes that were Catholic Church also meant that it impacted made to religious practice is the way that the cultural revolution, weakening the pagan sacred landscapes, recognised prior positions of symbolic cultural practices to the Famine, became the areas where that had become important after the new Churches, and, consequently, shops Famine such as Irish dancing and hurling. and other modern institutions, emerged. This shows the totality of the devotional This shows that the devotional revolution revolution. became a modernising force in PostVicky Andrews Famine Ireland, as a different religious traditional Gaelic sports, however, reached new lows following the Great Famine, with British activities - particularly cricket usurping native pastimes. Formed in 1884, the Gaelic Athletic Association (‘GAA’) aimed to repopularise Gaelic sporting activities by promoting participation; they also acted as an organisational and regulatory body, eventually creating universal playing codes. The institution would develop into Ireland’s predominant cultural organ in the following century. A close alliance forged between the GAA and the Gaelic League (1893) - another vital organisation during the Gaelic Revival, promoting the everyday use of the Irish language - was built upon a mutual fear of Anglicisation and a belief that a new national identity could be realised through the culture of the past. ‘Foreign’ games were denounced in An Camán - a shared newspaper for the two institutions - as the sports-ground became a site of political struggle.
100,000 people were involved in Gaelic sports: the act of participation was akin to political defiance. The events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1921 cemented the GAA’s place in the Irish independence movement, with British forces unleashing fire at Croke Park - the headquarters for the organisation. Consequently, many grounds and awards have been named in memory of nationalist icons (‘Pearse Stadium’ in Galway, after the revolutionary and political activist, Gaelic football at Croke Park, March 2014, Wikicommons
Patrick Pearse). Sport evidently played a fundamental role in the expression of Gaelic identity, and the nationalist movement gained much momentum from a revival in Gaelic pastimes. In Irish history the act of partaking in sport transcended the boundaries of leisure and served an important socio-political function.
The GAA was more than a sporting movement, as its ties to the Irish nationalist movement are well attested too. Many members of the organisation were implicated in the republican insurrections that became known as the Easter Rising of 1916. Further, following measures by the British government to ban public meetings, the GAA organised a nationwide ‘Gaelic Sunday’ in 1918, where up to
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
May 1968: A French Cultural Revolution? The events of May 1968 started from a small student revolt in a suburb of Paris which escalated to a general strike of over 10 million workers. This was the biggest riot in France in the 20th century, exceeding the popular front movement of 1936. These events led to an unprecedented political crisis in France’s fresh 5th Republic and concluded with the’ Grenelles Agreements’.
Surprisingly, this event took place during one of the most prosperous times France has known. From an economic point of view, it was right in the ‘Trentes Glorieuses’ - thirty years of stable economic growth and France was finally involved in no war on any continent. It therefore seems illogical for all these events to happen, but once again history is more complicated than it seems.
International ‘Youth Culture’ The 60s, from Berkeley to Rome, were an era of international ‘youth culture’. This new youth had a distinct socio-cultural and political identity. The so called ‘baby-boomers’ had their own newspapers, radio shows and music such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Youths from many different countries were engaged in diverse movements; antiimperialist protests in the United States of America, the Cultural Revolution in China, and rock’n’roll music in England. However, not much was happening in France. French society at the time remained hierarchical and tradition-bound. Individual freedoms were very restricted, most schools were single-sex, students had very little power in their organisations and sexuality was a taboo subject. This was in part due to a French society still anchored in its Catholic traditions. During these events, French president Charles de Gaulle was celebrating his tenth year in office and his 79th birthday. This fast-growing French youth felt despised and fed up by the old-fashioned state of mind ruling the country and needed to affirm themselves. One would think that the youth would turn to the French Communist Party (FCP), the biggest leftwing power in place at the time. However,
May 68 Poster ‘Return to Normal‘, Pinterest
for this group, neither the FCP nor orthodox Marxism seemed very attractive. The FCP was struggling to de-Stalinise and seemed to be abandoning classical revolutionary ideals, while Marxism reminded people of Kafkaesque bureaucratic Eastern Europe. The youth felt attracted to new revolutionary figures such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong.
Bourdieu would call a ‘critical event’. In solidarity with the youth movement, the biggest workers union (CGT and CFDT) called for a general workers’ strike which many others followed. Historian, Ludivine Battigny, describes this by saying; ‘where two worlds seemed completely separated, police brutality brings them together’. Despite diverging demands, the students and workers had a common enemy: Charles de Gaulle.
Bourgeois and Proletarians United The unification of what seemed to be two opposites gave new energy to the movement described by Marxist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre as ‘the unification of the sons of the bourgeoisie with the working proletariat in a revolutionary spirit’. De Gaulle, who first thought of this movement as a ‘masquerade’, realised France was completely paralysed by over ten million workers striking. He seemed hesitant and lost. During this time, Prime Minister Pompidou convened the biggest employers and union leaders, to try and calm down the situation. This resulted in the ‘Grenelles agreements’ on the 27th May. This gave a 35% increase in minimum wage, a 10% increase on the average worker’s wage and May 68 Poster ‘A Youth Too Often Disturbed by the Future‘, Port more rights to workers’ unions. These social benefits were unseen since the post-world The main ideas behind the students’ claims war liberation and maybe even the Matignon were challenging the strict moral power in agreements of 1936. place (anti-authoritarianism), criticizing the newly formed consumer society (anti- This later led to an early general election capitalism), and denouncing the intervention and was a landslide victory for de Gaulle. of western powers in Third World countries In conclusion, the events of May 1968 took such as Vietnam (anti-imperialism). place due to France’s inability to adapt to However, behind these important political the change of era it was going through. This themes the movement also tried to change can be seen as the beginning of the end of de everyday problems such as sexual frustration Gaulle’s regime (1958-69). by attempting to legalize boys’ access to girls’ university dorms and making university On the one hand the events had a positive more accessible to the sons and daughters of effect on French society; strict rules were abolished, new social rights, morals workers. became more liberal, beginning of women’s The spontaneous uprising of the movement emancipation and even bringing humour into surprised left-wing political organisations. politics with many now historically famous They were sceptical of the libertarian-socialist banners. On the other hand, some people aspiration of most young leaders and called took these events too far and this led to the them ‘bourgeois youth without any proper creation of left-wing terrorist organisations social demands’. After three weeks of rioting such as ‘Action directe’. Some also see this as and occupying different universities, the the beginning of the ‘politically correct’ state French state tried repressing the riots by of mind. closing university campuses. However, this only made it worse. Prime Minister Georges Most importantly, one of the biggest changes Pompidou tried calming down the situation in culture that took place was the blurring of on the evening of the 11th May by reopening the cultural border between popular culture most campuses. But it was too late. The and the ‘elite’s culture’. This generation had as night before, students had built barricades in much interest for traditional cultural figures Parisian streets and were strongly repressed such as Shakespeare, as for popular icons like by the police forces, injuring many of them. The Beatles. This became known as the ‘night of the Eliot Genton barricades’ and is what sociologist Pierre
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
The Women of the French Salons Salons flourished in France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Their primary function was to provide a locus for polite conversation. In seventeenth century Paris, aristocratic women opened their homes and hosted meetings to discuss poetry, religion and government. The eighteenth century saw middle class women hosting meetings as well and they grew rapidly, with guests mainly consisting of male philosophers and nobles. The host women, known as salonnières, played an integral role in the development of French salons. These rooms helped to break barriers between the sexes, united nobles and bourgeoisie, and provided opportunities for social, cultural and political exchange.
and circulation of Enlightenment ideas. Salons possessed an adaptive capacity and flexibility that permitted them to mould to political transitions, made possible by the salonnières. They conversed with men at an academic level and governed the meetings by deciding the topic of discussion. Therefore, they had the power to influence philosophical and political discourses. Dena Goodman, an influential historian of the Salons, has dismissed the claim that salons were leisure based, instead insisting that they were at the heart of the philosophic community and thus contributed greatly to the process of Enlightenment. Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin (1699 – 1777) was a leading female figure in eighteenth century France. Her Parisian salon, deemed the ‘kingdom of rue Saint-Honoré’ hosted many of the period’s most influential luminaries, such as Voltaire, Diderot and Montesquieu.This is one example of the way in which Salons gave women the opportunity to be involved in the public sphere, marking a cultural shift in women’s role in society. But not everyone was in favour of this. Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued against them in his misogynistic writings, advocating for the banishment of women to the domestic sphere.
Seventeenth century parlours can be regarded as multipurpose venues of amusement and social fusion, places where people went to gamble, dance, listen to poetry and participate in theatrical representation. Shifting from loci of social and cultural interaction, gatherings in the eighteenth century acquired a political vocation: the outcome Historiographical debate surrounding of increased intellectual speculation the assemblies has questioned the extent
Decline of Religion in Twentieth Century Europe
The 20th century struck a hard blow for religion in Europe. First, the Catholic Church struggled with the continuing process of secularization, which was spreading throughout all social groups. The ongoing wave of secularization was strongly supported by the rise of nationalism. This was followed by an attempt to survive under A recent study, based on the data from the the Communist Party domination in most European social survey 2014-2016, has countries across Europe. shown that a majority of young adults are The October Revolution gave rise to the first not identifying with or practicing religion. atheist state in the world, the Union of Soviet The survey of 16- to 29-year-olds found Socialist Republics. The Communists began that the Czech Republic and Estonia are the a targeted liquidation of religion across the least religious countries. On the other end of Eastern Bloc after the Second World War. the spectrum, Poland is the most religious The persecution had many forms, and it country, followed by Lithuania. concerned both the Church as a whole and its The survey proved significant variations, as individual members. In Czechoslovakia, the neighbouring countries with similar cultural Communist regime devoted great financial and historical background showed very resources in an attempt to rewrite and modify different religious profiles. The impact of the the history of the Czech nation so that the Soviet Union is undeniable as the two most Catholic Church would figure as a negative religious countries and the two least religious agent. The Czechoslovak persecution of the Catholic Church is commonly referred to as are post-communist states. the most cruel within the Soviet satellites.
‘Fighting Against Religion is Fighting for Socialism‘, the Guardian
Estonia also noted an extraordinary decline of institutionalized religion, especially within the Lutheran and Orthodox Churches. The reoccupation of Estonia in 1944 brought arrests and deportations to a number of Lutheran and Orthodox clergymen and church activists. By 1970, membership in the registered denominations had fallen to less than one tenth of the total population.
Franklin in a French Salon, Painting by William Gellner
to which they lay in the public sphere. Jurgen Habermas dominates recent debate, arguing for their firm position in the public sphere. Salons have been studied by feminist, Marxist, cultural, social, and intellectual historians, all of whom have studied different aspects. This array of methodological approaches has produced varying analyses of the salons’ importance in French history and the Enlightenment as a whole. With the emergence of feminist historiography in the latter half of the twentieth century, more serious thought has been given to the part of the salonnières. It can be concluded, with a brief examination of French salons, that the salonnières were as influential as the philosophers themselves, and their contribution to the development of intellectual ideas in the period should not be underestimated.
While the Lutheran Church in Estonia suffered a sharp decline, the Catholic Church in Lithuania retained greater influence and membership through the Soviet period, regardless of the same kind of persecutions. Catholic priests in Lithuania played a crucial role in the resistance movement. Similarly, Poland was the country with the strongest Catholic tradition post-war. The size and strength of the Catholic population resulted in a resistance to the communist government and the Church remained an organised body and a central part of opposition to communist rule.
Religious belief in some previous socialist countries (2017), Gloria
The Eastern Bloc was comprised of countries with varying degrees of religious affiliation that experienced different effects of the antireligion Soviet policy. The religious profile of Satellite states was influenced by both Soviet repressions and state nationalism.
Tereza Sloupova 9
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Texan Identity and the Alamo
Remembering to Forget
As the most popular tourist attraction in San Antonio, TX, the Alamo contributes a vast amount to the memory constructed of Texas by the many tourists who visit. The name ‘Alamo’ echoes throughout San Antonio, from the Alamodome to the Alamo plaza shopping centre. The Battle of the Alamo (1836) has been immortalized in film too, with John Wayne’s memorable performance, clad in coonskin cap as frontiersman Davy Crockett. The name is also pervasive in American rhetoric. Lyndon B. Johnson had a near obsession with the Alamo’s similarity to the Vietnam War and even falsely reported on many occasions that his grandfather died at the Battle of the Alamo. Clearly, the memory of the Alamo is embedded into the vernacular of the United States and lives on in political and social spheres. The multitudinous representations of the Alamo, however, highlight the various ways in which memories construct our societies, and vitally the nature of our continuous relationship with myth. In this sense, analysing the history of the Alamo shows most distinctly how collective memories are often designed to forget certain aspects, than remember. The Battle of the Alamo was in fact, a nasty, brutal, and short siege ending in complete annihilation of the outnumbered Texan forces (perhaps this alone explains why Lyndon Johnson could associate with it so much) and can hardly be looked at as a successful tactical moment in the struggle for Texan independence. Why then, is the Alamo remembered so tenaciously as a foundation of American identity? First, we must understand the memory, before approaching the mythic status. In 1836, revolutionary Texans had established a garrison at the Alamo, a former Catholic Mission which had been dilapidated for some time. The revolutionaries were seeking liberation from the conservative tide of Mexico’s new leader, Antonio López de Santa Anna. The cosmopolitan status of the Mexican state of Texas, (influenced largely by immigrants from the United States) incited a backlash from Santa Anna; uneasy at the unrest in the province and wanton interference from northwards, he declared foreigners found fighting in Texas as pirates to be executed immediately. Hearing that these pirates had declared the garrison an independent outpost, Santa Anna resolved to quash it immediately, sending around 1,800 Mexican troops to lay siege to a Texan force at least ten times smaller. The siege lasted twelve days, and William Travis
pleaded for more support, but eventually, alongside James Bowie and Davy Crockett, the Texans faced defeat when Santa Anna raised the red flag indicating a fight to the death. It has been claimed that, upon the news of the fatal hour they faced, William Travis drew a line in the sand, calling all those who were willing to give their lives for the cause to join him on the other side of the line, signalling a point of no return. Conveniently, only one person decided to leave at that point, living to tell the tale.
Battle of the Alamo painting, Britannica
A month later, and Santa Anna had confronted the remaining Texan forces led by Sam Houston at San Jacinto. Attempting to motivate his troops against the savage enemy they faced, Houston urged his troops to ‘Remember the Alamo!’ invigorating them to imbue their fighting with the same revolutionary courage that led Travis and co. to their noble deaths. Within eighteen minutes, Houston had made history twice. Firstly, in deifying the status of the siege at the Alamo in Texan revolutionary memory, and also in reifying the courage he sought to commemorate in a swift defeat of the Mexican forces. This initiated the beginning of the myth of the Alamo and abstracted the definition from a spatial one, toan abstract ideological representation of Texan resilience and strength in the face of adversity.
In the early 1900s the site of the Alamo, which had become federal state property of the United States as part of the Texan annexation, was sold to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT). This philanthropic organisation was concerned with renovating and preserving the symbolic site of the Texan revolution, and to develop records and historical information for posterity. But a revised analysis of the DRT’s records highlights discrepancies in their narrative and shows the symbiotic relationship between myth and society. Accommodating San Antonio’s vast Hispanic population, it is now clear that in the wake of anti-Mexican sentiment, the many Hispanic and Tejano fighters on the side of the revolutionaries had been written out of the records to augment the status of the noble-Anglo heroes Crockett and Bowie - washed-up politicians desperate for relevancy. The revolutionary fervour of the Texans is now widely disputed too, as it becomes explicit that their main grudge with the Mexicans lies in the abolition of slavery and their subsequent lack of land rights. In the late 1960s, the myth of ‘the Alamo’ developed into a symbolic representation of American exceptionalism and rugged individualism used to justify involvement in Vietnam - ‘Remember My Lai!’ you could almost hear Johnson cry. The historical details of the Alamo have now been revised to accommodate these facts; but to this extent our revision only reflects the status of developments in society today and may be subject to further change. Myths are not only important reflections of the past developments of a common culture, but of the status of that culture in the present day and thus we must be more critical of what they do not say rather than what they do, lest we forget to remember the reality.
The Alamo, Alamo.org
Jazz and African American Identity The first decades of the 20th Century saw a ‘great migration’ of African Americans out of the Southern States to the industrialised cities of Detroit, Chicago, and New York. These urban centres were the bustling backdrops to an explosion of black culture. Most notably, Harlem, New York became known as the ‘Negro Capital of the world’. It was home to the artists, poets, and musicians who drove the Harlem Renaissance.
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 contemporaries re-imagined the familiar and in doing so they provided what would become the soundtrack of black life in America. In America black culture had been shackled by the memory of slavery and the years of segregation in the South. In 1920s New York, black jazz musicians sought to redefine their culture by incorporating all of the tragedy and triumph of their race’s history. The period saw black musicians playing to mixed audiences for the first time. This was a new opportunity for African Americans to openly enjoy art and the socialising that came with it, without having to carve the spaces out for themselves.
The period was also formative for literature; jazz music was foundational to the work of Langston Hughes who incorporated the unique rhythms into his poems. Hughes used the idioms and textures of ‘The Harlem Renaissance’ by Miguel Covarrubias, The black culture to articulate struggle and Syncopated Times ethnonationalist consciousness. He sought to convince ‘the low-down folk, the soMusicians like Duke Ellington were turning called common element [to] accept what classical music inside out in the nightclubs beauty is their own without question’. of Harlem. They used the distinctly white and upper class instruments like Despite the importance of jazz to the the piano, but were influenced by blues African American community, it was rhythms and lyrics of songs which had still subjected to a profoundly white been sung by African-American slaves in establishment of music criticism. Although the pre-Civil War south. Ellington and his it was popular among many cosmopolitan
Chinatowns’ Journey Through America
However, brewing in the midst of postCivil War economic downturn in the 1870s came a politicised anti-Chinese sentiment. Middle America was suffering and it wanted someone to blame.
The Chinese presence in the United States was felt as early as the 1800s. As American industry grew, immigrants from East Asia travelled to this unfamiliar land in order to meet labour demands. Their humble beginnings in the country as cheap-to-hire workers would become the roots of a vast ethnic and cultural community spreading East to West. The California Gold Rush in the 1850s saw Chinese workers reach continental United States for the first time. In their thousands, immigrants were drafted in on low-wage contracts as labourers. When the increasing demand called for it, the Transcontinental Railroad development also became a place of employment. At first, the predominantly white Americans were tolerant of the Chinese and their new and ever-growing urban enclaves throughout the United States. Along with Chinese immigrants’ work in the Gold Rush and the Railroad, their adoption of low-ranking labour positions in cities - such as San Francisco - was not yet deemed a threat to middle America.
Manhattan’s Chinatown, Wikimedia
A shock to the immigration order came in the form of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. For the following 60 years, all immigration of Chinese citizens was banned. In the time before the law’s repeal in 1943, the Chinese immigrants already in America faced social exclusion. Requirements to gain American citizenship became stricter, and racial hostility prevented easy access into sectors such as agricultural labour. Teamed with the drying up of rail work, increasing numbers found themselves re-
Duke Ellington, Wikimedia
white Americans, it became a novelty, fetishised as part of the era of loose morals of the ‘roaring twenties’. In a profoundly racialised landscape much of the movement for racial equality, contemporarily known as the ‘New Negro Movement’ was built around notions of respectability. The Harlem Renaissance was sometimes criticised because, it is argued, it was merely mimicking ‘white culture’ in an attempt to prove cultural parity to whites. The Harlem Renaissance cannot be seen as an outward facing phenomena, however it was an experiment in self-confidence. The force of jazz, and accompanying poetry and literature racial self-assertion. It was brash, bolshy, and demanded recognition. It went on to define urban black culture, and can be seen as representative of the glories and laments of humanity, black or white.
treating to city Chinatowns, and self-employment in these enclaves of managing restaurants, stores and laundries as well as trading became popular go-tos. The immigration bans being lifted soon led to legal citizenship and, in 1965, open borders to those from Asia. A new, modern wave of immigration, this time consisting of college students and professions, saw Chinese people move to the suburbs to avoid the cramped, urban city life of Chinatowns. Chinatowns still persist today, from the original settlements in California to the significant enclaves in New York, Chicago, Houston, and countless other major cities. Not even ethnic enclaves are safe from gentrification’s sweeping curse, however. In recent years, Chinatowns have seen their white population grow at a faster rate than that of the rest of their respective city. At the same time, the downtown of the US economy - adjacent to China’s rising one - has allowed for increasing reverse migration, further decaying the once solid Chinatown. Indistinguishable, forgettable towers are replacing iconic Chinatown resident terraces, and today’s unaffordable renting culture sees residency numbers fall. The reality of fewer and fewer jobs in affected areas is even driving out the working-class Chinese who first founded it.
Rona McCann 11
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Orient at Home: The Popularity of Orientalism in Colonial Britain
In the spring of 1853, the English explorer, Sir Richard Burton, undertook a journey to complete Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, a journey that held particular danger for a contemporary Englishman. He travelled incognito, disguised as a Muslim under the rather comical name of Mirza Abdullah of Bushire, all the while secretly scribbling in a notebook hidden in the bag intended for his Qur’an. Upon his successful return to England, these notes would result in his highly popular and famous Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage
The ‘Oriental’ Women, Pinterest
(1855-56), the book which made Burton famous and became one of the quintessential works of Orientalist travel literature so beloved and consumed by colonial Britain’s domestic markets. How then, can weto explain this bizarre British fascination with the ‘Orient’? The answers lie in a wider study of Orientalism in colonial Britain. Edward Said defined Orientalism as an essentialising Western discourse that takes the ‘Orient’ as its object. The theory stresses a relationship between knowledge of the colonised, and its instrumentalisation to assert and justify colonial power. Burton’s book was by no means an isolated instance of Orientalism, but rather, it contributed to an already established body of work. Orientalism in nineteenth-century Britain ranged from travel literature, to translations of foreign stories such as One Thousand and One Nights, to tales of adventure set in mysterious ‘Eastern’ lands. It even extended , and even to anthropological studies of entire regions and peoples in the East, such as Edward Lane’s Modern Egypt (1836), commissioned by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
The most superficial reason for this concepts its popularity is that, put simply, the subject matter was often entertaining and novel. Orientalism ostensibly dealt with that which was not British, embellished with British imaginings. Stories such as H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885) were at heart stories of foreign adventure, of wild and untamed lands filled with riches, danger and the opportunity for glory. British representations of the Orient were often intended to capture the imagination of their consumers. Industrialisation, urbanisation and increasing levels of literacy back home in nineteenth-century Britain created a market hungry for this sort of entertainment and amusement. Moreover, British conceptions of the Orient were neitherot unified nor coherent, but rather a mass of contradictions, thus widening their appeal to the British public. DIt was depicted inconsistently,: it was all at once exocitic, but violent; sensuous, but barbaric; licentious, but repressive, and. It was treated as primarily a space into which British imaginings and fictions could be projected and entertained, however contradictory or offensive. The British fascination with the Orient also had a psychological component: There was also a psychological component to the British fascination with the Orient, in that it operated as a foil to British insecurities. According to historian Dennis Judd, the empire ‘provided untold numbers of British people with an easy psychological defence mechanism’. Indeed, if identity is in part constructed against otherness, then Orientalism was an exercise in identityformation as it provided this in spades. The ‘Oriental’ was describeddefined as the antithesis to the British ideal: the Chinese were represented as effeminate while the British were masculine and hardy, the African was savage where the Briton was cultured, Indians were said to be heathens while the British were sincere Christians. Moreover, Orientalism also arguably provided its consumers with an outlet for repressed
feelings, as nineteenth-century British culture is traditionally viewed as a country of stiff upper lips and even stiffer shirts. While current historiography challenges this to an extent, it is still worth considering this context.bearing in mind. Orientalism permitted British society to explore taboo themes like sex and violence to an extent otherwise unacceptable in the public sphere. Indeed, native women in Orientalist art, for example, were hyper-sexualised, often portrayed more often than not as as no more than mere erotic objects. As Rana Kabbani notes, the women portrayed in Orientalist paintings are rarely ‘foreign’ looking, they almost invariably resemble the conventional conception of European beauty. It is not that the Orient was found to be attractive and its female inhabitants subsequently sexualised, but that the British ‘Orient’ was a theatre in which sexuality and objectification could be fetishised and explored with the idea of a conquered and submissive ‘Oriental’ woman as their subject. This misogyny directed at subjugated women hints toward the core of Orientalism: power. The nineteenth century saw a huge growth in industrialisation and empire, contributing to a greater disparity of power between colonisers and colonised. On the one hand, a larger empire necessitated greater knowledge of colonies and increased interest in the OrientOrientalism. On the other hand Hh However, growth in Orientalism was only made possible by the shifting dynamics of power between Britain and its colonies. Said argued that, to claim to know a people or culture in their totality, however purportedly, requires at once the ability to know a culture, and the power to do so. The nuance is subtle. The claim to know a culture in its totality rests on knowledge of it, but it also requires power over said culture. By claiming to have identified the ‘essence’ of the East as Orientalists did, they both defined it and deprived it of autonomy. The East was only permitted to be what the Orientalists said it was. The popularity of Orientalism in colonial Britain was more than entertainment or a projection of insecurities, and its popularity in colonial Britain is a testament to a disparity in power; that the British presumed to know a culture better than its own inhabitants, and that they had the power to do to, is at the heart of British Orientalism and empire.
Marco Dryburgh Richard Burton, Wikicommons
Mughal Empire A Cultural Golden Age? At its zenith, the Mughal Empire extended over nearly all the Indian subcontinent and parts of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1526 by Babur and lasted until 1857, when the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed by the British East India Company. The Mughal Empire is renowned for its distinctive cultural eminence, from its architecture to its cuisine. The historic blending of Indian and Persian culture has been said to be a ‘Cultural Golden Age’ for India. The Mughal Empire is celebrated for its notable architecture, which incorporated Indian elements with Persian and Islamic elements. The most commonly known example of Mughal architecture is the Taj Mahal in Agra, famously built by Emperor Shah Jahan from 1632 to 1653. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. The Taj Mahal incorporated and expands on design traditions of Persians and earlier
Vietnamese Boat People The Vietnamese boat people are first and foremost refugees, citizens of Vietnam fleeing the country due to insecurity and fear of a totalitarian communist regime. In many cases smuggled out of the country, families have been split up as not everybody could leave. A vast number of citizens fled the country, with an estimated 800,000 people leaving between 1975 and 1995 following the end of the Vietnam War. Vietnamese refugees were extremely limited in where they could travel to once they left their country, with most surrounding countries in Asia refusing to take them. This was largely due to an agreement between ASEAN countries to keep in line with a non-interference policy. With most countries denying entrance to the Vietnamese refugees, they could be left on the boat for weeks, earning them the nickname of ‘boat people’. Even when accepted into countries as a place of first asylum, forced repatriated was common. However, their experience was a lot more complex. Journeys on the boat were perilous with those fleeing the country spending long hours cramped in the hold, hoping to escape without any trouble. The chance of
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 Mughal architecture. It is regarded as the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. It symbolises India’s rich history, evident in its attraction of 7-8 million visitors per year. Whilst the Taj Mahal is the most famous example of Mughal architecture, the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore encapsulates the culturally rich elegance of the Mughal era. It was commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor, Aurangazeb, and was constructed between 1671 and 1673. Upon
Badshahi Mosque, Wikipedia
completion, it was the largest mosque in the world. Lahore was considered to be a gateway to Persia and was heavily influenced by Persian architectural styles under the Mughals. The mosque is an important example of Mughal architecture, with an exterior that is decorated with carved red sandstone and a marble inlay. major storms crashing against small boats meant that death was often an imminent fear, with refugees concerned that they would never being able to leave the boats. Additionally, pirates around the gulf of Thailand, for example, often targeted boats holding refugees and stole not only the very little possessions they had with them along but also their dignity. If they managed to survive these hardships, successfully arriving in another country relied upon other ships rescuing them from sea and taking them to shore. After the traumatic journeys, refugees could spend months or years in refugee camps waiting for resettlement, such as Bidong Island in Malaysia or Bataan in the Philippines. However, the huge numbers of refugees in camps often outweighed the ability of local governments and humanitarian organisations to provide the bare necessities of life. The US and European governments, including Norway and West Germany, worked hard to resettle refugees, but this could be a very slow process. The immediate legacies of refugees in their new country are not entirely clear, or representative of their struggle. For example, the ‘Viet-Ville’ restaurant in the Philippines, near the old Refugee Processing Centre is world famous for its cuisine, and any travel discussion about Berlin involves recommendations for the
It remains the largest and most recent of the grand imperial mosques of the Mughal Empire. The architecture of the Mughal Empire points to this era being a cultural golden age for India. As well as its architecture, the Mughal Empire is also renowned for its cuisine. The popular culinary work, Nuskha-iShahjahani, was a record of the dishes believed to be prepared for the court of Emperor Shah Jahan. The dishes included Halwa (a warm sweet pudding), Puri (a fried bread), and Panir ( Indian curd cheese). Many popular dishes emerged from this era, including Tikkas, Biryani and Jalebi, all of which can be found on the Curry Mile of Rusholme, a testament to the Mughal Empire as a golden age of Indian history. Therefore, the Mughal Empire was in many ways a cultural golden age which has echoed through the ages. Elements of Mughal culture continue to be enjoyed today, in both modern India and across the globe.
vast amount of Vietnamese food there. But is food the only thing that comes to mind while thinking about resettlement of Vietnamese refugees? Contemporary artwork made by former refugees makes a better attempt at capturing the struggle of the ‘boat people’. Imagery of sea, boats and refugees go hand in hand during the representation of displacement, and allows the legacy of Vietnamese boat people to live on. It is important to sieve through the popular culture to find a window in the experience and legacy of boat people.
Vietnamese Refugees, Pinterest
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Interview with Dr. John S. Lee
Presidential Fellow in Environmental History speaks about his article: ‘Postwar Pines: The Military and the Expansion of State Forests in Post-Imjin Korea, 15981684’, Journal of Asian Studies 77 (2018), 319-332. The Manchester Historian: What distinguishes environmental history from other subfields of history? Dr. John S. Lee: Of the major subfields of history, environmental history is the newest. It looks at something that historians have overlooked for a long time - the interaction between humans and the spaces and objects they dwell in and live amongst. Environmental history developed in the 1970s, first in the United States, clearly a by-product of the growing environmentalist movement that sprung out of books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. The questions she asked - ‘Where does the concept of wilderness come from?’, or ‘How have issues such as climate change or long-term environmental change affected human society?’ - were taken up by historians, and that’s where I end up today answering questions related to the impact of forestry and deforestation on Korean history. TMH: How would you summarise the Imjin War (1592-1598)? JS.L: It’s the watershed moment in east Asian history. In 1592, a Japanese warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, invaded Korea. His ultimate goal was to conquer China and he had a grander goal of being ruler of the seven seas, which historians have assumed meant going on to India. Korea was supposed to be his bridge and gateway to taking over China, but thanks to heavy Ming Chinese assistance and the efforts of the Korean navy, Hideyoshi was beaten
back after a devastating seven-year war. It was a war that completely devastated the Korean peninsula. 20% of the population was abducted or killed, 66% of arable land was destroyed, and essentially the country was left in ruins. It had the effect on Korea, one could say, that the Thirty Years War had on Germany, with foreign troops marching across the countryside, dislocation of much of the population, and political leadership living in exile. What happened after the war was a watershed moment because the pre-Imjin order of east Asia was the Ming dynasty as the most powerful civilisation in northeast Asia, Japan as a series of warring states gradually becoming unified, and Korea under control of the Chosŏn dynasty. After the war, Japan was reunified under Tokugawa Ieyasu, who set up the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan for the next 250 years. The Ming dynasty would fall within 50 years, weakened by the war and continuous incursions by the Manchus. The Chosŏn dynasty survived, but only due to immense reforms. TMH: What is the ‘Imjin War as the road to decline’ thesis? What are its central arguments? JS.L: It was a thesis which was introduced by Japanese colonial historians. When the Japanese colonised and annexed Korea in 1810, essentially teleological historical arguments were concocted to explain how things got to this point. It justified not only Japanese rule, but also re-explained Korean history. One question the Japanese had to answer was: ‘How did the Chosŏn dynasty last so long? So, this so-called ‘stagnation thesis’ appeared. For them, the reason why the Chosŏn dynasty needed to be brought down and Korea needed new guidance under Japanese rule, was the dynasty lasted too long - It should have fallen in the 1590s when Hideyoshi invaded, but did not, and so the old traditional stagnant regime sputtered on - the, post-Imjin reforms were cosmetic, structurally insignificant, and only gave a breath of life to a dying beast. This was the view the Japanese gave. TMH: What is the cultural significance of the pine tree in Korea, and how did that change after the war?
Artistic depiction of the Japanese landings at Busan during the opening of the Imjin War (c. 1592), Mad Monarchist
JS.L: If we go back to 10th century records,
the pine was immensely significant, not only as a cultural symbol prominent in literature, but even as a political symbol. The founder of the Goryeo dynasty (a dynasty which ruled Korea before the Chosŏn dynasty from 918-1392) legitimated his rule by claiming that his ancestor had planted pines all around what would become the capital of the Goryeo dynasty, and this supposedly fulfilled some prophecy - whoever planted pines around the city would rule the Korean peninsula. That is extreme teleology because this is a story made-up hundreds of years after the so-called massive pine plating occurred. But it’s the pines themselves which are interesting, and if you look at the main historical chronicle of the Goryeo dynasty which was actually written some years after the Goryeo dynasty fell in 1392, there’s an anecdote about caterpillars devouring the pine trees around the royal shrine of the Goryeo royal family. Conveniently, this was right in the last year of the dynasty. Essentially, this is something Chosŏn dynasty chroniclers of the newly established regime added to justify the rise of the Chosŏn dynasty and the decline of the old because pines are so significant in Korean popular culture. This image of caterpillars eating the pine trees around the Goryeo royal shrine really represented for a lot of Koreans the dying dynasty on one hand, and the need for the rulership of the new. TMH: What was the cultural significance of the horse in Korea? Did this change after the Imjin War? JS.L: This is a fascinating question because it’s also what my future research talks about, the environmental legacy of the Mongol empire in Korea. The Mongols burst out of the Central Asian Steppe in the 13th century and Korea was conquered in 1270. Wherever the Mongols went, one animal they brought with them was the Mongolian pony. The Mongols turned much of southwestern Korea into Mongolian pony ranches. There’s a large island to the southwest of Korea, Jeju island, which the Mongols administered as one of their horse ranches. Everyone on the island was made into slaves and had to raise horses their whole lives. The Chosŏn dynasty, when they took over, would continue to force Jeju islanders to maintain these horses. So, horses remained important in Korean society in
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries and this was due to that Mongolian legacy. Horse cavalry was still very prominent in the Korean military, the riding of the horse was still a great aristocratic symbol just like in Europe, and horse riding, playing polo, and cavalry archery, were highly coveted activities. This changed in the 17th century because many of the elite cavalry regiments were destroyed during the Imjin War. So, the government’s priorities after the Imjin War were increasing taxable arable land which required turning pony ranches into paddy lands. This meant that the horse diminished in Korean life and the sedentary in our culture became a priority - practices that the Koreans learned from the Mongols in terms of taking care of horses were gradually neglected. If you look at pictures of horses in 19th century Korea, they’re pathetically small, and western observers would often comment that they were diseased and in horrible shape, so it would be very different from the 15th century, when Chinese observers would comment on how wonderful Korean horses were and how similar they were to Mongolian ponies. TMH: What were the other environmental policies implemented? What was the role of the military in them? JS.L: There is an inherent conflict between forestry and paddy agriculture - you need to deforest and log land to reclaim the land. This is one of the reasons the Chosŏn dynasty established strict controls and put the military in charge of forestry. It was a very effective way of not only guarding the forests, but also giving the military a job to do, especially between 1590 and 1850, when there are no major international wars between Japan and Korea. So, the military’s main job was to collect taxes, and guard forests from peasants who were trying to reclaim land or to make sure the triannual timber quota was met. This is one of the reasons why, by the 19th century, the Korean military wasn’t very good at fighting. It had largely deteriorated as a fighting force and it was more of an administration.
timber is extremely dangerous - it requires group coordination, hence the army was effective because it had an institutional hierarchy. Another group used for forestry were Buddhist monks. They were easy to find, ready in place - monasteries are usually in mountainous forest areas - and already had an institutionalised hierarchy. So, looking at the Chinese case, you see mass mobilisation of the populace for corvée labour projects. For Korea, it’s more surgical mobilisation of certain institutions. TMH: What can governments today learn from the Chosŏn dynasty’s environmental policies? JS.L: The five-hundred-year forest conservation policy shows that the conservationist state is not a modern phenomenon. The problems inherent in a conservationist state - preventing corruption, continuing to maintain these policies, preventing resentment and backlash against conservation - are all problems the Chosŏn dynasty faced, and I argue in the book I’m writing now that one reason why the state forestry system went to through so much problems in the 18th and 19th centuries was that there was what one could call a populist backlash to forest conservation. People were sick of government officials coming into their neighbouring forests and telling them they could not use these forests because they had to preserve the trees for warship construction. It’s a similar populist backlash you see of course toward climate change today. In the Chosŏn dynasty’s case, the areas of the country where forest conservation was most successful was where the government was able to interact with local organisation and villages who had their own forestry organisations. When the Chosŏn government was able to work and negotiate at the local level, you actually see those forests become
preserved. You don’t see widespread resentment against the government. It’s in those areas where the government was more imposing forestry policies without dialogue with local populations where you see much more purposeful deforestation, and purposeful logging, and even rebellion against local leaderships due to resentment. TMH: Do you think with climatechange becoming such a pressing issue nowadays there’s an added importance to studying environmental history? JS.L: Yes, but I would say there’s too much emphasis on looking at how climate change affected humans in history. In other words, it’s interesting how the little ice age in the 17th century may have contributed to war and famine throughout Eurasia, but what’s not often answered is what can governments do about this problem. This is the same thing with climate change today. What can governments do about it? You can make a similar case regarding the smaller scale forestry or water issues - these are not just issues where humans have to helplessly receive the wrath of nature. These are issues that government institutions can develop policies for in order to mitigate their effects, and this requires not just the crafting of regulations, but, as in the successful cases of Chosŏn dynasty Korea, negotiations with local communities and broad social outreach that involves not just government officials and or commercial bodies but also universities, local communities. Broad dialogue is definitely necessary.
Interview conducted by Rebecca Bowers and Will Kerrs
TMH: Are there similarities and differences to China’s hydrology projects? JS.L: The scale is very different. The rivers that run from the Tibetan plateau through China are immense and volatile. Controlling the Yellow River involved so much attention for multiple Chinese dynasties. In the Korean case, the corvéeing of labour was important for some irrigation projects but on a smaller scale. However, the use of of troops for logging and forest protection was considered far more effective. If you look at forestry enterprises throughout history, corvée labour is not very effective; mostly because
(L-R) Will Kerrs, Dr. John S. Lee and Rebecca Bowers, TMH
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755
population. Swathes of historic buildings, works of art and goods were also destroyed or lost in the trauma. Lisbon was not the only city to fall victim to the events, as settlements upon the Iberian Peninsula and Moroccan coast endured similar tragedies. However, the savaged city, a bastion city of European colonial and mercantile endeavour, triggered responses beyond the physical ramifications of the event itself.
1st November 1755, the Portuguese city of Lisbon suffered a devastating series of natural disasters. An earthquake, estimated to reach a magnitude of 9.0, toppled buildings and saw fissures emerging across “Come, ye philosophers, the streets. The earthquake’s epicentre, who cry, ‘All’s well,’ 120 miles out to sea from Lisbon, triggered And contemplate this ruin of a world.’’ tsunami waves which swamped the port and drowned hundreds of citizens. Candles, lit - Voltaire, On the Lisbon Disaster (1755) to celebrate All Saints’ Day that morning, were knocked over during the tremors Philosophers sought to reevaluate their and initiated a conflagration that engulfed understandings of God’s role in the temporal homes and other buildings, burning and world. Christian schools of thought had in asphyxiating numerous more victims. early modern Europe typically understood Although accounts vary, casualties from natural disaster as divinely ordained. God’s the event have been estimated as great as omnipresence and association with the 40,000 in Lisbon alone - a fifth of the city’s natural world led clerical scholars to explain disasters as wrath induced because of the sins of man. However, the extent of Lisbon’s suffering fuelled wider philosophical disputations.
Lisbon after the1755 Earthquake , Pinterest
Racial Hierarchies in Colonial Brazil The categorisation of race and the establishment of a racial hierarchy developed in colonial Brazil due to the actions of the Portuguese colonisers. The arrival of the Portuguese in 1500 set in motion a racial system that would dominate Brazilian society. By implementing slavery, the Portuguese created a racial hierarchy that held whites and Europeans at the top and degraded slaves and their descendants to a position of inferiority. Furthermore, the action of Portuguese men having children with Indians and Africans also contributed to the establishment of racial categories.
Percentage of Mixed Race People in Brazil (2009), Wikipedia
Kant’s interpretations of the 1755 earthquake saw a marked shift from devout religious supposition towards empirical evidence. Kant created three volumes of work upon the events at Lisbon, with his theories postulating not divine will at play, but geological phenomena. Though his presumptions were later proven false, his methodological approach paved the way for further rationalised, scientific understandings within the Enlightenment. Rousseau’s theories had focused upon the state of nature, in that humanity was not set apart from the Earth, and that respect and working within the natural world lended a greater moral strength to humankind than the societal degeneration of private property and inequality. Straying from theological understandings, he utilised Lisbon, arguing that the city’s population density had contributed to the high death toll and that such cases supported the need to reimagine humanity’s relation with the natural world.
In conclusion, environmental phenomena such as the Lisbon earthquake had wideranging consequences. Intellectual discourse was evidently altered by the natural world, Voltaire’s epistemological understanding of with ideas of humanity’s relationship with the world was reinforced by the events in the planet re-evaluated and increasingly Lisbon, as his skepticism and criticism of explored by environmental historians today. an altruistic deity drew conviction from the depraved circumstances which struck one of Sean Jones Europe’s leading intellectual hubs. Colonial slavery and the transatlantic slave trade played a key role in the establishment of a racial hierarchy in Brazil. Responding to the threat of European competition, the Portuguese used the cultivation of agricultural crops (such as sugarcane) to increase their presence in Brazil, which ultimately demanded an influx of African slaves. However, slavery kept black people at the bottom of the hierarchy in society. Many historians have highlighted how Brazilian historiography focuses intensely on the extremes of slavocracy meaning that there is an abundance of information regarding masters and slaves but a gap in consideration of other racial categories apparent at the time. The legacy of slavery, along with colonial government policy implemented in Brazil, led to the cultivation of a racial hierarchy.
Racial Divide, Wikipedia
people were organised by birth, race and origin of ethnic types. State policy exploited the caste system with particular groups experiencing restrictions or privileges so that imperial authority could be maintained. This racist legislation was enforced with the goals of the imperial government in mind such as creating an empire, raising revenue and increasing authority. An example of this would be settler contracts being given to European immigrants after abolition, furthering their economic gain and subjugating former slaves within the lowearning plantation economy or unstable jobs. Organisation through the caste system was a form of social control that determined one’s importance, almost strictly through race.
In terms of racial categorisation, racial markers became incredibly important in the colonial period. The establishment of racial groups of Mestiços and Mulattos was a product of Portuguese men having children with indigenous Indians and Africans. It could be suggested that this was a marker of assimilation and the beginnings of a new The Portuguese colonial government in unified people. Brazil led to the development of a racial However, the colonial government hierarchy and racist ideology which left implemented measures that led to the a legacy still prevalent in Brazil today, people of Brazil becoming more divided showing the enduring effect of colonialism than united. This was practiced through a and European supremacy. caste system of many categories in which Kerry Scott
The Jewish Witches The study of those persecuted for the crime of witchcraft has often centred around misogynistic and patriarchal accusations against women. Lower class, elderly females constituted a significant number of those accused and consequently executed. However, during such turbulent times, people in minority groups (both men and women) faced vicious accusations as well. The rise of the Black Death during the fourteenth century led to mass hysteria, and to the breakdown of already tenuous religious toleration. This began the search for a scapegoat. The Jewish community, who followed strict hygiene and dietary laws, faced a lesser threat to the plague than that of Christians, thus their relatively lower rates of sickness made them a perfect target for accusations. Christians claimed that Jews had poisoned the wells, and they argued that the Jews had caused the Black Death in order to ravage their societies. Their theory aligned with the belief that the Jews were the biggest threat to Christianity and aimed to destroy all Christendom. The reported practices of witches at the Sabbath began to be interpreted as
Trial by Ordeal: A Brief History Fans of the Game Of Thrones franchise will be familiar with the concept of the trial by combat: an individual accused of some crime or treason is able to forego court proceedings in favour of allowing God (or the Gods, in the case of Game of Thrones) to intervene on their behalf. In fictional Westeros, this process involved a fight to the death until the last person standing was proven to be on the right side of the law. Similarly, in a trial by ordeal in Medieval Europe, if you managed to survive your ordeal relatively unscathed, you were proven to be innocent with the hand of God on your side. In reality, most ordeals used were not intended to kill the accused. Merely maiming them was sufficient to prove their culpability, in some cases sufficiently enough to condemn them to death.
Trial by combat, Pinterest
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 paralleling those of Jewish rituals. It was widely suggested that the Jews loved to desecrate the Host and practiced sorcery. Additionally, it was believed that they must be the Devil incarnate, since they had committed deicide. Blood libel accusations were often levelled at Jews during Passover; the body of young Simon of Trent was found on Easter Sunday, leading to the burning of fifteen Jewish men.
Jews burnt to death in Strasbourg, Wikipedia
The Strasbourg case in particular highlights the underlying cause to certain accusations against Jewish people as witches. Although some would have been fearful and uncertain during such confusion, others saw a social and economic opportunity to accusing Jewish men of witchcraft. Jews had risen socially, serving aristocrats, and were known for their wealth. They were often perceived as usurers, and there was growing Hebrewlike letters on the witchers’ jar, Pinterest resentment against their capital whilst many Christians faced loss of business due to poor These Christian-held fears all led to health amongst other circumstances. massacres of Jews throughout Europe during the Early Modern period. In 1349, Many other pretexts exist for the persecution the Jewish community in the city of Basel of Jewish ‘witches’ during this period, such was burned at the stake. A council in as the perception of the Jewish man as Strasbourg had 2,000 Jews arrested; some effeminate, and it is important to research accepted conversion, and Jewish parents the topic in greater depth in order to gain a were forced to convert their children. Those wider perspective of the witch hunt during who did not convert were burnt. These Jews the Early Modern period. had to cancel any debts owed to them, and their property and cash was distributed by Kate Yates the council among the working men. An ordeal was a means of determining guilt following the identification of a suspect. There were four main types: carrying a hot iron, plunging the hand into boiling water, the holy morsel of bread and cheese (the guilty would choke) and immersion in cold water (the guilty would float). The theory behind the trials was to let God determine whether the accused was guilty or not, therefore the clergy and priests of the church would officiate the trials.
and were, therefore, so secure in God’s knowledge of their innocence that they would place their hands into boiling water, then surely they must be innocent! The logic behind the process does make sense. Priests allegedly modified the ordeals to ensure that no permanent damage was done to the innocents determined to clear their names. Trials by ordeal were officially abolished by Henry III in 1219, but the practice stopped slightly earlier when the church withdrew permission for its members to be involved. The trial by ordeal did, however, enjoy a reprieve during the Witch Trials of the 17th century when it was a vital part of the trial process until the Witchcraft Act was passed in 1736.
Trial by fire in a 12th-century German manuscript, Wikiwand
The ordeal served a psychological purpose because those who knew themselves to be guilty of some crime were more likely to be hesitant to undergo a trial that they would inevitably lose, resulting in confessions before the ordeal. Those determined to prove their innocence in the eyes of their peers and of God would have been more than happy to go through with the trial because they would be spared the maiming effects of an ordeal. If an individual believed themselves to be innocent
A 1603 notice of witch trials, Pinterest
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Architecture in Almería: Moorish Occupation Impacts Despite Catholicism being the largest religion in Spain today, its Muslim heritage is still everpresent in many aspects of Spanish culture. The reason for this is the seven hundred year-long Moorish occupation, which saw the extension of Moorish culture into Western Europe under five successive rulers. An occupation of such duration inevitably left its mark on the country, particularly through Moorish architecture, as it has remained largely untouched for several hundred years. These impacts are still present in Almería, a city which is often forgotten about compared to other cultural hotspots such as Granada or Seville, but which has equal historical charm. The southeast coastal city was formerly an important trading port city and Moorish stronghold. The name of the city itself derives from the Arabic word ‘Al-Mari-yah’, which means the Watchtower, showing that its extensive Moorish history will always be remembered through the name Almería.
Exploring the Sunni-Shia Split Within Islam In school, we learnt about Martin
Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle which sparked the Protestant Revolution in Europe, permanently splitting the Catholic and Protestant Churches. However, few of us are as knowledgeable about the division between Sunni and Shia Islam, the roots of which go back far beyond its Christian equivalent. The split originated in the mid-seventh century, following the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. Muhammad set up the first Islamic state in Medina just 4 years before, and in doing
Holy City of Medina, Independent
The largest reminder of the city’s rich Muslim history is the Alcazaba of Almería, the second largest Moorish fortress in Spain, which looms over the city below. It contains three enclosures. Two of these were built by the Moors, with the third being added after the Christian conquest at the request of Catholic monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Even the opposition could appreciate the well-structured, resilient fortress, choosing to utilise it for their own benefit rather than destroy it. Its historical significance and beautiful Moorish architecture has even attracted attention from film and television shows, with the fortress having been used to film scenes for famous television programme, Game of Thrones. Not only can the Moors’ influence be seen via their buildings that remain but also in the way they shaped the Christian architecture that followed, most notably in the Almería Cathedral. Although built after the Moors had been driven out of the region, its architecture remained influenced by the region’s previous rulers. This is evident in the fortified design of the Cathedral. The high windows, ramparts and loopholes all indicate that the Cathedral in Almeria was not only built for religious purposes but was also built in the context of so united clans in the surrounding areas under Islam. This unity was fragile, and tensions emerged after his death regarding who would succeed him as leader. Some Muslims believed that Muhammad’s sonin-law Ali should lead, but others wanted Abu Bakr, the Prophets’ trusted friend and advisor. Abu Bakr was to become the first Caliph (the Islamic leader), and Ali the fourth; but after Ali’s death in 661 AD the schism became unassailable. Sunnis who had supported Abu Bakr believed that elected succession of the Caliph was paramount, but the Shiite belief that the Caliph should be a blood relation of Muhammad led them into the split that continues to this day. Various Sunni caliphates led by elected Caliphs existed intermittently until the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War One. The Shiite leader is known as the Imam, and these men could all trace their ancestry back to the Prophet Himself. All but one were sons of the previous Imam. Sometime in the 10th century, the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, went into Occultation and disappeared, but Shiites believe that he will return one day to lead them once again. Most Sunni Muslims believe that the Imams are given divine status by the Shiites, which they see as
continuing aggression from North Africa. Interestingly, many churches and cathedrals throughout Spain were either converted from mosques, or built on mosque remains after the Reconquista. In Almería the most notable example of this is the church of San Juan Evangelista, which stands on the remains of the former Great Mosque of Almería. Whilst the 10th-century mosque was almost completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1522, its mihrab (a prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca), and the qiblah wall in which it is set, survived. Even in Catholic areas of worship aspects of Moorish reign remain, showing its powerful lasting impact on not just Almería, but Spain as a whole.
View from the Alcazaba, Holly Gaffney
sinful, offensive, and the crux of this Islamic division. This Sunni-Shia split accounts for tensions within the Middle East today, notably the antagonism between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is a Shia country, with 95 per cent of its population adhering to the religion, whereas Saudi Arabia’s House of Saud and 90 per cent of the nation’s population are Sunni. These fundamental religious differences constitute perhaps the most important cause underlying these two countries’ battle for dominance over the Middle East, a battle that is played out through their involvement in the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Both sides arm and fund militias or armies, hoping to gain greater ideological control in the region. In this way, the tensions behind current events like the Syrian Civil War can be traced back to the 7th century. Therefore the Sunni-Shia Islamic split is a topic of great relevance, and should be taught as widely as Protestant-Catholic divide is.
Bolshevism, Islam & Self-Determination In November 1917, the course of world-history was changed forever by as a revolution, led by workers and peasants, broke out in Russia. An often-neglected part of this, however, is the role that minority religions played in these events – in particular, Muslims. While the Orthodox church dominated prerevolutionary Russia, Muslims made up around 10 per cent of the population (16 million people). Mostly concentrated around Central Asia, the relationship of the Muslim minority to the Empire was not entirely different to that of other European empires and colonised peoples, complete with patterns of exclusion and repression of religious rights, enforced via dictatorship. While the Soviet Union later came to be a hotbed of religious persecution, the early years of the republic was one of marked improvement from what was seen previously. For the first time ever in its history, freedom of religious practise was enshrined as a principle in the Soviet constitution. While a strict separation of church and state was enacted, divorce was legalized, marriage and education were treated as non-religious affairs and the enormous property of the Church was confiscated. The Soviet constitution’s inclusion of the right to religious practises can be traced back, in part, to the debates within the Bolshevik party in the 1900s over how they ought to approach religion. While some argued for atheism as part of the party’s program, V. I. Lenin was strongly opposed to this idea, insisting that religious belief be treated as a private affair. It was this attitude that led to a number of serious attempts to engage with the religious sensibilities of the workers and peasants in the Empire, as was seen when Bolshevik women adorned hijabs to enter villages to speak to Muslim women. Contrary to popular belief, the relationship between the Bolsheviks and Russia’s Muslims was generally a positive one. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Tatarstan, where Muslims flocked into the Red Army, leading to more than half of their soldiers on the Eastern front being Tatars.
Propaganda aimed at Central Asia, c. 1920, Wikicommons
Why did this relationship develop? In one sense, it was simply because the Bolsheviks provided a greater guarantee of religious liberty to Muslims than Tsarism had. But it was also the work of a leading Tatar Bolshevik: Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev. Born in rural Bashkortostan in 1892, Sultan-Galiev initially became active as an Islamic nationalist, before being won over to Bolshevism and joining the party in June 1917. While he served an important military role, his real impact could be seen in his pioneering ideas on how to relate the ideas of Marxism to the daily lives of Muslim communities. Drawing from this, Sultan-Galiev pioneered what he called “Muslim national communism” – a synthesis of the ideas of Bolshevism, expressed through the terminology and values of Islam. While revolutionaries like Karl Radek had already practised a form of this in his call for a ‘holy war’ against the Tsar, it was Sultan-Galiev that formulated this with tremendous success.
Soviet Propaganda, Pinterest
Even prior to this, however, the Bolsheviks had been consciously pursuing policies in favour of national and religious selfdetermination for minorities, trapped within the ‘prisonhouse of nations’ that was the former Empire. After the first February revolution, in May 1917, the first session of the All-Russia Congress of Muslims took place in Moscow and Kazan. Here, a meeting of 1,000 delegates (one-fifth of which were women) took place to debate and form policies relating to the specific situation facing Muslims in the country. The result was a list of points that arguably made up a fullyfledged socialist program: women’s civil and political rights, a ban on forced marriages, the
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
nationalisation of major landed properties without compensation, and the immediate implementation of an eight-hour day for all labourers. It was arguably these events that wedded Sultan-Galiev and the Bolsheviks together, given his role as the secretary of the Congress. The relationship between the Bolsheviks and Russia’s Muslims was not only to be found in Tatarstan. From Kazakhstan, to Dagestan and Chechnya, millions of Muslim workers and peasants backed the Bolsheviks in defence of their religious rights, faced with the military onslaught of the counterrevolutionary White armies. The revolution and its immediate aftermath had brought forward serious achievements for Russia’s Muslim population. Unfortunately, these gains proved to be short-lived. The effect of the Civil War had been one of immense destruction and devastation. While previously workers and peasants exercised power in the Soviet Union, the damage brought onto the country’s industry and infrastructure created a crisis, out of which a growing bureaucratic clique emerged headed by the figure of Joseph Stalin. It was from this that these experiments in national self-determination came to an end. Muslim national communism was quickly denounced as a “nationalist deviation”, while Muslims were gradually weeded out of prominent state positions – one factor that contributed to Lenin’s call for Stalin to be stripped of his position as General Secretary of the Communist Party. This process had deadly consequences. The hijab was swiftly banned, while Sultan-Galiev was arrested a number of times, before eventually facing execution in 1939. It was the persecution of Sultan-Galiev and the Muslim minority that Trotsky described as Stalin’s “first taste of blood” – a foreshadowing of the events to come. What the whole experience shows, however, is the unique approach the Bolsheviks developed towards religion, epitomised in both their opposition to the church, and support for religious and national rights, drawn from a Marxist understanding of self-determination.
Tom Costello 19
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Wagner: Hitler’s Idol
Wagner is considered to be connected to Nazism. Not only were his operas systematically played at Nazi rallies, but Hitler personally appreciated the ‘Bayreuth master’. Hitler’s intimate attachment is a spectre that has haunted Wagner’s music for decades. Hitler was even described as having an obsession with him. But what exactly was he drawn to? Some argue that it had nothing to do with aesthetic sensibility. Displaying such devotion to a respected artistic genius was rather a strategic political move. Using the pride Germans took in their cultural assets, he promoted his credibility as public and charismatic leader. However convincing this explanation seems, there is evidence to support the argument of personal adulation. Firstly, his admiration for the composer, reportedly started in his early teenage years, is mentioned several times in Mein Kampf and by third parties close to him. Secondly, he enjoyed personal links with the Wagner family, who endorsed him publicly from the early stages of his political career. He was especially close to the master’s
Russian Roots of Socialist Realism ‘The beautiful life’ is what socialist philosopher Nikolay Chernyshevsky described, in his seminal Aesthetic Relations of Art to Reality, as the political role of art. He associated the pure essence and experience of life with beauty; art was only a reflection of human experience and reality. This laid down the groundwork for many Russian realist painters. It established a basis upon which art became detached from bourgeois culture and became, instead, a representation of common Russian life.
daughter-in-law Winifred Wagner, to whom he proposed twice and who sent him letters and gifts during his imprisonment. Thirdly, he asked for autographed manuscripts as birthday gifts and refused for original scores to be safely taken out of Berlin. Lastly, he quoted Wagnerian verses even in his ‘Political Testament’, written in his very last hours.
of German Romanticism. His hostility towards Jews, whilst undeniable, was relatively selective and inconsistent in practice, as evidenced by his professional collaboration and personal friendships with Jews. In contrast, Hitler’s uncompromising hatred against all Jews appears to have extended to a personal level, and was also undeniably rooted in beliefs of racial superiority, whereas for Wagner, the latter is debatable.
Whilst Hitler never appears to have drawn on Wagner to validate his own antiSemitism, he often cited Wagner’s opera Rienzi for sparking the desire to unite the nation and restore a pan-German greatness, just like the character Rienzi tries to do for the Roman state. ‘In that hour it all began’: the suggestive opera inspired an ‘epiphany’ and triggered a political fantasy. Therefore, if not anti-Semitic feelings, then Wagner seems to have at least provided young Hitler with political Wagner portrait, National Vanguard sensibility and a populistic ideal. But is he Winifred Wagner described Hitler to blame for the Führer’s subsequent antias ‘addicted’ to his music. From this Semitic actions in that project? standpoint of uncritical idolatry, the issue Jewish philosopher Adorno notes that of how far Wagner’s own views influenced the composer’s legacy is filtered by our Hitler’s Weltanschauung arises. Some historical awareness. Whilst both shared ideological affinity is evident, but there very similar views, it is hard to ascertain if are fundamental differences. Wagner was Wagner influenced every aspect of Hitler’s openly nationalist and anti-Semitic, but ideology. that is perhaps consistent with the context Jessica Zanzottera an autonomous way of life. They sought freedom from the type of art that was encouraged by imagination and the state, and they attempted to alter institutions for the greater good of society, in addition to awakening a social consciousness in their audience. According to Chernyshevsky’s definition, this was ‘true’ art; it was a more human reflection of society and was the genre of art that most vividly portrayed the lives of the working and lower classes. More than anything, they propagated art that was functional through what they established as art’s civic role and of artists as social commentators.
thought of as equivalent to reality as the perspective and judgement of the artist is overlooked completely. This is perhaps why the methods of Russian social realist art were later adopted by the state. A new generation of realists emerged at the turn of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. They established realism as the style for socialism and thus the official art of the Soviet Union. Traditionalists in Soviet Russia were encouraged by the methods of earlier (social) realists as a way of showing the merits of Marxism, particularly by illuminating the figure of the hero worker, used by artists like Ilya Repin, who also became a symbol of pertinacity. Chernyshevsky’s ideologies spearheaded the notion that the reality of art was socialist and, therefore, true realism was socialist. These ideas paved the way for socialist realism to become a
Artists such as Vasily Surikov, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin and Ilya Repin, were all significant members of the group who The art produced by the group showed, in their works of art, the social Peredvizhniki, or the Itinerants, was injustices of the Russian peasantry. tool of propaganda. inspired by Chernyshevsky in that they However, an issue can arise when art is Hollie Baptiste-Douglas cultivated and portrayed a love of land and peasantry through landscape painting and depictions of the realities of everyday life experienced by many peasant workers. This group of artists were characterised by their rejection of the institution of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1863, resulting in their liberation and independence as a cooperative association. In doing so, they were also rejecting the popular neoclassical style of painting, although they were not attempting to establish a Barge Holders on the Volga Painting, Wikipedia Russian school of painting. They subsumed
The Duality of Frida Kahlo Modernity and Traditionalism
‘Kahlo first created Frida’, art historian Oriana Baddeley urges us to remember. Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón built a powerful and unique persona in spite of being in shadow of her husband, Diego Rivera. The emergence of feminism brought her into the light, recognising her divergence from the traditional female norms. Her art was connected to the idea of modernity as she managed to break the social conventions and to assert herself. As a Marxist and adherent to the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), both her and Diego wished to promote native Mexican heritage and reject colonialism. Kahlo was determined to paint for the Mexican people; she sought to blend traditional Mexican elements with her modern spirit. In spite of this apparent dichotomy of traditionalism and modernity, she managed to harmoniously depict her personal experience and internal tribulations through her self portraiture and still life.
‘Self Portrait Along the Borderline Between Mexico and the US’ (1932), Frida Kahlo.org
Following a 1925 tram accident, which left her with a broken spine and unable to bear children, she gave up her dream of pursuing medicine and turned to painting instead. What sets her style apart is her flair for transposing her afflictions and desolation into ‘transcendental art’, as Jay Griffiths points out in her novel A Love Letter From a Stray Moon which was inspired by Kahlo’s life. Through a careful exploration of her psyche, Kahlo not only managed to defy her fate as a victim, but also openly share the pain she endured. Through her paintings, her mutilated body turned from an object of femininity into a symbol of suffering.
Starting with 1929, after the first marriage with Diego Rivera, she reinvented herself. Influenced by her husband’s interest in pre-Hispanic culture and history, she adopted the Tehuana style, a form of traditional female dress from the South East of Mexico. The Tehuanas, although faithful to traditions, had a liberal and independent lifestyle, in line with Frida’s vision. The trademark Tehuana dress was composed of a floral and geometrically embroidered velvet huipil, continued with a long A-line pleated skirt and complemented with colourful ribbons and flowers. Kahlo’s paintings also exhibited a variety of vibrant colours, typical of the Mexican style, bearing idiosyncratic connotations: blue meant distance but also purity and love, while yellow signified madness, sickness, and fear. In response to her relocation to the US, she painted ‘Portrait along the Borderline between Mexico and the United States’ (1932) and ‘My Dress Hangs There’ (1933), both reflecting the rupture and differences between the Mexican and American cultures. In her vision, the superficiality of America and its industrialisation conflicted with the integrity of Mexico. This duality is demonstrated through the striking delimitation she makes between these opposing worlds: the artist wearing her characteristic Tehuana dress became a symbol of her desire to return home. As a sign of rejection, only the empty dress is present in the 1933 painting, suggesting her soul was already in Mexico. Painted during the same period, ‘Henry Ford Hospital’ and ‘My Birth’ became the most representative pieces of the Mexican folk art of the retablo (a type of Catholic votive art which sits behind the altar). These paintings often told stories of how people’s hardships and fears were surpassed with the help of a saint. As such, the two paintings fuse the reality of Frida’s torments, her physical trauma and subsequent infertility, with Mexican religious traditions. After her divorce in 1939, the resulting painting ‘Two Fridas’ was shown at the International Surrealist Exhibition. Yet again, the painting put into perspective two distinct presentations of the artist: the unloved Frida, dressed in modern European attire evoking the emotional pain of the divorce, and the loved Frida, dressed in the traditional Tehuana dress reflecting the devotion towards her relationship. Later on, in ‘Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair’ (1940), Kahlo adopted a modern approach as she transformed in an androgynous figure, perhaps in order to emulate the freedom and independence of men at the time. Frida confronted her
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
status as a divorcee and rejected her socially imposed female role by adopting masculine attire and cutting her hair. A master of symbolism, Kahlo borrowed several Mexican folkloric motifs, such as the hummingbird (as seen in ‘Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’, 1940), representing the prospect of love.
‘The Two Fridas’ (1939), Frida Kahlo.org
Another motif that appears in numerous paintings is the spider monkey, a traditional symbol of lust, sexuality and fertility in the Aztec society. In ‘Fulang Chang and I’ (1937) and ‘Self-Portrait with a Monkey’ (1938), the spider monkey is portrayed as being protective towards her, replacing the children she could never have because of her accident. As well as animals, watermelons, cacti and flowers fill Frida’s house in the painting. Fruits became the subject of her still life paintings as a means of representing the taboo subject of sexuality. Illustrated as colourful and juicy, they could easily be associated with temptation and eroticism (as in, for example, ‘Still Life with Parrot And Fruit’, 1951). In spite of their ripe sweetness, the threat of decay is imminent, with the fruits becoming a blatant reminder of life’s ephemerality and a comment on her life hindered by predicaments (‘Weeping Coconuts’, 1951). Thus, ‘Viva la Vida’, completed in 1954, only a few days before her death, is the embodiment of Frida Kahlo’s epitaph, a woman who, against all tragedies, celebrated life, while also ‘joyfully await[ing] the exit’ and ‘hop[ing] never to return’.
‘Viva la Vida’ (1954), Google Arts and Cultures
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
The Cult of Bacchus in Rome
When we think of religion in Rome we are often drawn to the battle between Roman polytheism and Christianity post-Anno Domini. However, this ignores the Roman habit of the adoption of foreign deities as a means of assimilating new cultures into the Roman Empire...
Bacchanalia, Painting by Auguste Leveque (1890-1910), Pinterest
...Possibly the most intriguing aspect of religion in Rome is that of the banned cult of Bacchus. The Senate’s decision to suppress the cult in 186 BC seems to have been motivated by its foreign influences, and the lack of control the authorities felt they had over this predominantly female group. The cult of Bacchus was often considered synonymous with the cult of Dionysus and the Dionysian Mysteries which both began in Greece, though its origins seem to be Minoan, existing long before Greek and Roman civilization began. The polytheistic nature of Rome at the time allowed for citizens’ worship of multiple deities, and the hybridisation of deities in Greco-Roman religious culture was common. The cult of Bacchus, however, became a threat to the Senate and a key cause of the largest religious persecution in Rome after that of the Christians.
Bacchanalia and the Cult in Rome Dionysus and Bacchus have been used interchangeably throughout literature and historical accounts of Greco-Roman religion. Whilst Roman adoption of Greek deities was commonplace, Bacchus tends to be associated with the more vulgar and indulgent characteristics of Dionysus (though this may be due to the later association of the cult with rebellion and dark magic). Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, fertility, ritual madness, revelry, theatre and ecstasy. He was often represented by symbols such as the theatre mask, goats, vines, ivy and a magical reed wand, all of which were purportedly used in the rituals and rites dedicated to him. The worship of Dionysus/Bacchus varied, dependent upon geographical location,
Amphitryo, written between 189-6BC, depicts the frenzied nature of the women and mentions, “if you try to oppose a Bacchant woman in a Bacchic trance, you’ll make her even wilder than she was, and she’ll batter you repeatedly”, whilst Casina and Bacchides (thought to have been written just after the cult’s banishment), also refer to the cult. In Casina, the protagonist is mocked as “there are no Bacchic women playing their games nowadays”, and in Bacchides a man is attracted by twin sisters when he says “I fear the Bacchants and your shrine of Bacchus… such a den of darkness isn’t a fitting place for one of my youth”. It also mentions the expensive and rich decorations, aimed to “lead men to perdition”, reflected in the décor at the Villa of the Mysteries. The Villa’s frescoes also demonstrate the cult’s connection with other cultures, depicting Greek mythology and even Egyptian symbology in a rare, all-black room.
though we will focus here on the Bacchanalia and the cult in Rome. These references indicate that cult had become extremely taboo in Roman culture, Although the cult only accepted female though it is still unclear whether it was the initiates for a long time, the Bacchanalia foreign-religious aspect or the dominance held on the 16-17th March were unique of feminine power that was most offensive celebrations as they were open to people to those in power. In 186 BC the Senatus from many different backgrounds; free Consultum de Bacchanalibus was passed women/men, slaves, pieties and thieves to suppress the cult of Dionysus/Bacchus, alike (which was not common practice). The as Rome had entered into a moral panic. worship of Bacchus was closely linked with Inscriptions from Spurius Postumius wine, dancing and ritual freedom, all leading Albinus detail his investigations into the cult to a more natural state of being. Titles which he claimed was developing into a state and status were considered unimportant. conspiracy, and Livy’s account of Albinus’ Accurately identifying the cult’s rituals investigations claim he was disgusted by and practices is difficult due to its secretive the foreign religion causing degenerate nature, however there are parallels across behaviour. Livy, as a conservative man, also many accounts indicating that intoxicants expresses his distaste towards the majority (often assumed to be wine or mead, though of those in power being priestesses, though there is a strong case to be made that later contradicts himself when listing mainly psychotropics were involved), sexuality, men as priests. Finally, where Cicero depicts phallic symbology, nocturnality, ritual a witch-hunt of sorts following the Senate’s freedom, and frenzied dancing were core decision, Livy mentions nothing, leaving us elements of the rites. This is supported by the unsure as to whether cult members were many frescoes and mosaics found dedicated persecuted or not. Though there is much still to Bacchus, including the famous cyclical to be explored and investigated, and though fresco in the Villa of the Mysteries, depicting we may never have answers as to the nature a woman’s journey through a worship of the cult of Bacchus or its demise, it can ritual with Dionysus, mystical creatures certainly be argued that it posed a significant breastfeeding baby animals, extravagance, threat to the Roman Senate, and had great frenzied dancing, and being brought to a influence on Roman religious culture. state of nature. Many of these details are also reflected in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Bacchus in Plays: A Taboo Topic
Cien-Maria Louise Crawley
The majority of our understanding of how this cult was perceived in Roman culture is deduced from contemporary plays. Aulularia, written in the 190s BC, mentions a Bacchic shrine and female devotees.
Etruscan Cultural Domination A cultural predecessor to the world famous Roman Empire? Or simply another collection of city states influenced by the ever expanding Greek hegemony of the early classical period? In the years leading on from 900 BC Italy was a peninsula of ever changing ownership and expansion from a litany of the Western Mediterranean powers. The colonies of the city states of Greece, the growing Polis of Carthage accompanied by its Phoenician allies, the then small but expansionist city of Rome, the Celtic tribes of Northern Italy, and then the Etruscan League; a collection of city states loosely joined together into a Theocratic Federation all vied for power over the peninsula. It can be argued that Etruscan culture became a distinct entity from that of its tribal neighbours around 900 BC, and that the influence of trade with the Phoenician colonies of Africa and the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia – now southern Italy and Sicily – led to its ascension into a dominant power within the Italian peninsula. But does the occurrence of this influx of wealth
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019 constitute a cultural domination across Italy? The power of the cities of Etruria can be massively attributed to the influx of the aforementioned trade from the Greeks and Phoenicians as well as the tin imports from the Celtic tribes in the north - as trade inevitably leads to exposure to other cultures. So, when considering Etruscan culture, it must be said that much of its architecture, art and even its mythology can be attributed to that of its Greek neighbours in Magna Graecia, as well as the other powers in the region. However, having said this, there are elements of Etruscan cultural dominance evident in this period. Their bronze sculpting was famous throughout the ancient world and was exported widely. This, accompanied by the fact that the Etruscan cities were some of the first in Italy to move away from tribal society and into city states, must be seen as the beginning of
two centuries later, (and is non-existent in earlier works) sheds doubt as to whether Plato’s claims are genuine. The 5th century historian Herodotus - who differed from Plato in his emphasis on objectivity and methodologically approaching history The tale of a mighty civilisation, sunk also visited Egypt. Unlike Solon however, beneath the waves in a single night and day, Herodotus brought back no such legend of has captured the imagination of explorers Atlantis, despite following his tracks. and writers ever since it’s conception in Even Plato’s own student, Aristotle, Plato’s dialogues. This 4th century text believed that he had invented the legend is the first historical appearance of the to facilitate his own philosophical ideas Atlantis myth. Whilst undoubtedly Plato’s a view shared by most modern historians. words, his descriptions are expressed His descriptions of a sunken landmass in through dialogues of Timaeus and Critias. the mid-Atlantic being already fictitious. The latter allegedly getting his information The reference of an ancient Athens from Solon, a 7th century Athenian defeating a far superior Atlantic empire statesman, who learned of Atlantis from strongly indicate that this is an analogous Egyptian temple records. story, designed to teach contemporary Athenians a lesson.
Whilst the historicity of these claims cannot be validated, as those records no longer exist, that Solon’s apparent discovery appears only in Plato’s writings
Etruscan culture has been massively overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, and history has a habit of being written by the victors. Consequently, Etruscan culture and power has been somewhat slandered in historic texts like that of the Roman historian Livy. The culture of Italy during this period can arguably be seen as a hybrid of the dominant powers at the time, this ending when the, arguably, politically and culturally Etruscan city state of Rome (if we believe in the existence of the latter three Alban kings) asserted its hegemony. This subsequently created a successor to the Etruscan, Greek, and Phoenician cultures of Pre-Roman Italy - the hybrid society of the Roman Republic.
Etruscan frieze, in the National Archaeological Museum, Siena, Britannica
Origins of the Atlantis Myth
Atlantis, drawing by Géza Maróti, Wikimedia
a cultural domination. However, this move was part of its wider inception as a trading partner with the Greek and Phoenician colonies.
In these dialogues, Ancient Athens is described as an aristocratic society, almost identical to the one outlined in Plato’s ‘Republic’. Plato was notorious for disliking Athenian democracy, given that it led to the execution of his mentor, Socrates, and the disastrous invasion of Sicily, which saw Athens lose its Greek hegemony and empire. Plato thus claims that Athens’ noble roots resembled the ideal state in his ‘Republic’, with Atlantis embodying the antithesis of this model. In this story, Athens stood alone after all other nations had capitulated, pushing the Atlanteans
out of their conquered lands, freeing the enslaved, before Poseidon himself had turned on his fallen nation. It is also credible, as many have suggested, that Plato was inspired by the fall of the Minoan civilisation to the cataclysm following the Thera eruption. Which also drew other Greek writers to compile legends, like that of King Minos and his Minotaur, for which the Minoans are named after. Also for the city of Helike, which in Plato’s time sank into sea in a single night, allegedly for angering Poseidon, whom the city was patroned by.
The labyrinth of the Minotaur, Pinterest
Regardless, Plato was arguably pushing a narrative similar to his predecessor, Socrates, but carrying his political theory in a subliminal way that appealed to Athens fallen glory, drawing inspiration from past and contemporary disasters.
Pallav Roy 23
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Finding Prester John ‘‘Our magnificence dominates the three Indias, and our land extends from farthest India, where the body of St. Thomas the Apostle rests, to the place where the sun rises…’’ The above passage (translated by Michael Uebel) is excerpted from a letter that was widely circulated throughout European courts in 1165. It described a rich kingdom to the East, ruled by the author, a Christian priest-king humbly named Prester John, who offered friendship, gifts, and military aid to his Christian allies. The true author was certainly European, but he had not simply invented the idea. Rumour of some Eastern Christian king of that name had existed for decades, buoyed by Otto of Freising’s second-hand account, in 1145, of a massive defeat of the Seljuks by a mysterious power from the East. But it was this letter that cemented Prester John as fact in the Western imagination. For the next several centuries, European powers sought his fabled land. Their searches shifted from India and the Far East to settle
Spirit Mediums and ZANLA ‘‘O ancestral spirit, please watch over us o lord’’ So recites the chorus of a revolutionary song from Zimbabwe. In the 1970s, ZANLA, a nationalist military group, undertook guerrilla war to free the country from the Rhodesian colonial government. This plea to spirits for their protection provides evidence of the traditional spirituality, common to most Shona natives of Zimbabwe. Their voices were communicated through mediums, which came to play a significant role in the War of Liberation.
Guerrilla unit in Southern Rhodesia, ThePatriot.co.zw
on Ethiopia, where the Portuguese claimed to have found him in the early sixteenth century. Why did such a myth persist so strongly, and how did its location change so dramatically? Answering requires an appreciation of medieval Western understanding of the wider world. Contact with the East and South had been largely severed by the rise of Islam in those areas. Classical sources were still relied upon for geographical knowledge, supplemented by religious texts such as the Apostolic History, whence came the notion of the ‘Three Indias’: an area that included the Horn of Africa. Indeed, ‘India’ often operated as a catchall term for the unknown East. Prester John’s kingdom existed in this nebulous space. When, in the thirteenth century, the Eastern power mentioned by Otto of Freising was identified as the Mongols— who were not, as was hoped, Nestorian Christians—Prester John was not debunked but relocated, and his pursuers began to look southerly. The existence of an Eastern African Christian kingdom was known, but it had long been out of contact. When Ethiopia re-emerged onto the world stage in the fourteenth century, the answer seemed to have been found. Indeed, the name ‘Prester John’ might have been a misremembered echo from before contact was lost: the Ethiopian term for their ruler An introduction of the Shona spiritmediums’ stance within the local society is necessary to understand how such religious figures were beneficial to political nationalist goals. Shona worldview recognised various categories of spirits, including the mhondoro, spirits of ancestral chiefs that cared for the welfare of their lineage and the fertility of their land. Their benevolence could be obtained performing rituals and dances, so that rain would fall and provide rich crop. Sometimes they would possess a person, whose words were considered direct messages from these late, now allknowing, chiefs. Therefore, these spiritmediums were highly regarded within Zimbabwean society. Moreover, colonial rule led to the diminished importance of current chiefs, and people thus people then turned instead to their chiefs of the past through spirit-mediums (which further increased their influential authority). Mhondoros’ main duty was to the land, which at that time was infertile and deconsecrated by the white oppressors. ZANLA’s stated aim was liberating the land and returning it to the peasants, so the spirit-mediums agreed to help them. Considering the Mhondoros’ standpoint in Shona society, and their powerful influence on peasants, their contribution was remarkable and manifold. Firstly, their ‘blessing’ to the cause had moral and political consequences, as it heavily
Prestor John in the European imagination, 1599, British Museum
was Zan—easily misheard as ‘Jean’ or ‘John.’ As to why the myth endured, Europe and European Christianity were in crisis when Prester John emerged. Numerous Crusade defeats and constant in-fighting amongst kings, emperors, and popes made the concept of an omnipotent Christian ally not only believable but indispensable, giving purpose to the act of exploration. Tellingly, it was only once Europe was assured of its political and religious dominance in the world that the myth of Prester John was allowed to fade away.
Marina Juul Filisky supported recruitment among the peasantry. Secondly, they ensured soldiers’ safety, using their intimate knowledge of the country to guide the soldiers through little-used paths, and taught how to interpret animal signs and hide in the wild. In order to achieve that, guerrillas had to follow protective techniques and rituals, similar to those ancestral restrictions observed by Shona hunters and spiritmediums themselves. Through these long-established ceremonial practices they favoured a quicker and profound assimilation of the ‘strangers’ by the local peasantry. The symbolic legitimacy that ultimately spirit-mediums provided to ZANLA soldiers was their most significant contribution to the liberation war. Guerrilla groups were thus incorporated into the social fabric of Shona. Even beyond that, establishing themselves as autochthons meant that they were perceived as the military front of the true owners of the land. ZANLA took advantage of this powerful symbolism of the land when declaring their right to the country. Hence the intimate and ideological understanding of the militant message ‘sons of the soil’ becomes clear.
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
Life of Rachel Carson
influenced environmental movements through increasing public awareness and understanding of these concerns. Although the subject matter itself had been discussed before, Silent Spring presented the dangers of synthetic pesticides in such a way - through a combination of Carson’s scientific knowledge as well as her skills as a writer - that finally brought about widespread public understanding of the topic. In the novel, Carson emphasises the fact that such substances are non-specific in their destruction of natural life, as well as the careless nature of aerial pesticide spraying.
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist, author, and environmentalist. Her writing helped to bridge the gap of understanding between scientific information and the public, most notably regarding the negative effects of synthetic pesticides on human, plant and animal life in the United States. Carson began her career as a junior marine biologist at the Bureau of Fisheries and was the second woman to be hired for a full-time position at the company. Here, as well as carrying out scientific research, Carson published a number of successful articles, including her first novel Under the Sea Wind in 1941. She published The Sea around Us, and The Edge of the Sea in 1951 and 1955 respectively, completing her sea trilogy. By 1957, Carson’s main focus had shifted to the dangers of synthetic pesticides use in US agriculture, and, after achieving financial success from her sea trilogy, she was able to leave her job at what was then named the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in order to focus on her own writing.
Life of Dylan Thomas
Rachel Carson in her Maryland office - 1962, Getty Images
Carson’s most notable work, Silent Spring (1962), came about through her ongoing and extensive research on the negative effects of DDT and other highly toxic chemicals used as pesticides, which she had continuously followed for many years since their development after World War II. The 1957 gypsy moth eradication program inspired Carson to compile her research into a book. Carson had previously attempted to publish work on the effects of such chemicals, (in 1945), however, editors were initially uninterested. Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to the forefront of American consciousness in a new way. It heavily
the self-styled ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’ wrote constantly, producing around 200 poems. By the age of twenty he had already completed drafts of two thirds of his later published work. This was, of course, his most prolific writing period, Dylan Thomas, born in Swansea in 1914, though, as a renowned and meticulous was a veritable giant of twentieth-century perfectionist, it would often take months poetry. Thomas was lauded both for his or even years to craft each piece. lilting, visionary verse and his notorious Thomas moved to London in 1934, and it life; a life which ended when he was just was here where he created some of his most 39 years old. beautiful and powerful poems, including As a teenager, Thomas passed the time by reading, and contributed some of his earliest poems to his school magazine. Between the ages of fifteen and nineteen,
Portrait of the poet Dylan Thomas, DiscoverDylanThomas.com
Although met by opposition from chemical companies, Carson’s work encouraged the eventual ban of DDT in the United States; a highly toxic substance which contributed to the destruction of many wildlife species, and brought about a number of new legislative measures concerning the use of pesticides. Silent Spring significantly influenced the environmental movement as a whole, and the beginnings of ecofeminism. After her death in 1964, Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the USA.
‘Holy Spring’ and ‘Vision and Prayer’, before settling in New Quay, the famed inspiration for his seminal radio play Under Milk Wood.
Post-war, alongside crafting his nostalgic, melodious masterpiece ‘Fern Hill’, Thomas undertook a 3-year broadcasting spell with the BBC. Here, he created over 100 popular poetic programmes which made him a household name. The death of Thomas’ father in 1952 devastated the poet, and it was beside his father’s death-bed that ‘And Death Shall Have no Dominion’ and Thomas penned his raw and anguished ‘Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines’. He master-ode, ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That published his first collection, 18 Poems, Good Night’. that same year, receiving critical praise for his impassioned and musical voice. During Thomas’ numerous literary tours of However, while Thomas was establishing America in the early fifties, his alcoholism himself as a prodigy in the capital’s literary and drunken boisterousness worsened, scene, the poet also began indulging in the giving his shows an infamous reputation heavy drinking and boisterous behaviour for potential, spectacular ruin. Despite which would go on to taint his legend. This this, his last collection of poems won the negative image was compounded by his Foyle poetry prize, crowning Thomas – marriage to the dancer Caitlin Macnamara at only 38 - one of the finest wordsmiths in 1937; a union that was fraught with in English poetic history. Dylan Thomas died of pneumonia in New York on the mutual infidelity, debt and alcoholism. 9th of November 1953. An indelible, At the outbreak of World War Two, pacifist eccentric and melodic master of verse, Thomas was spared from conscription he nevertheless parted with the dying, due to his history of lung issues, although disconsolate lament: his financial struggles compelled him to ‘‘After 39 years, this is all work as a script writer for the BBC and, I’ve done.’’ later, the Ministry of Information. In 1944, Thomas escaped the London Blitz and moved to Llangain, completing his works Madeleine Foster
ISSUE 32 | MARCH 2019
BOOK REVIEWS Interested in writing a book review for The Manchester Historian? Submit your proposal to email@example.com
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold STEPHEN FRY Whilst adhering to the original mythologies acclaimed author, Stephen Fry, has refreshingly brought the stories of the ancient Greeks into contemporary literature with a new and vivid approach. His enthusiasm for mythology is exemplified in his humorous and intelligent prose, allowing for an amusing and intellectually stimulating experience. In Mythos, Fry takes us from the creation story of Gaia and Kronos through the generations to Zeus, Persephone, Athena and many more with an entertaining and extremely accessible tone and language. Most importantly, Fry successfully portrays the Greeks’ ability to tap into the primality of the human race, which still resonates in contemporary society today. The fully realised world of Greek mythology is applicable to the world in which we live, and Fry expresses this through his sharp and scintillating modern comparisons, like that of Pandora’s box and the internet.
Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 DIARMAID MACCULLOCH The Reformation in Europe was a monumental transition for the highly religious world in the sixteenth century. As a result of the revolutionary ideas of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli, many Catholics converted to the new form of Christianity dubbed ‘Protestantism.’ In this book, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700, Diarmaid MacCulloch delves deep into the intricacies of the Reformation – beginning with a description of the ‘old church’ before the schism, continuing into a thorough description of the new religious ideas forming in the mid 1500s, before going in depth into the changes occurring throughout in northern, central and southern Europe. MacCulloch concludes with the outcomes on cultural practices as a result of the Reformation. Overall, MacCulloch’s assessment of the Reformation in Europe is a collective history using chronological analysis and a narrative of the transition from Catholicism to Protestantism. He also includes a section that discusses everyday life after the Reformation. In this section MacCulloch focuses on women and children, feeling that this discussion has largely been left out in previous scholarship. In particular, MacCulloch highlights preReformation conflicts due to Europeans’ desire to spread Latin Christianity around the world. Across the continent, many Europeans and
By relishing in the absurdity and brutality of these larger-than-life Gods and Goddesses, Fry adds himself to the prestigious list of those who have successfully retold the Greek Myths; a list which includes Walt Disney, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and James Joyce. His modernisation of these timeless tales, combined with his iconic wit, allow for an immensely enjoyable and undeniably informative read. Peppering intertextual pearls of wisdom throughout, he alludes to Norse and Roman mytholWWgy and occasionally guides the reader on an etymological journey through Greek and Latin vocabulary. Considering the consistent thematic thread of sex and violence which runs through almost all of Greek mythology, Fry effectively achieves the balance of a PG approach that does not elude or aestheticise this violence, making the stories accessible for children whilst simultaneously incredibly entertaining for adults. For anyone who enjoys this phenomenal work of fiction, its mythological sequel, Heroes, is equally as absorbing and enlightening.
Review by Angus Dickson
their governments strongly disliked Muslims, Orthodox Christians in the east, and the few remaining Pagans in Lithuania. The medieval period is remembered for its constant warfare between rival religious groups. The author’s argument encompasses the conflicts occurring before the Reformation, which is incredibly important to the theme of this month’s issue. In addition to medieval warfare, MacCulloch’s argument and narrative educates his readers through additional conflicts that arose due to the rise of printing. He argues that printing helped spread information and propaganda, which resulted in an increased momentum for the Reformation. This is an interesting point because it reminds his readers that Europe is changing both religiously and technologically. With more information printed and distributed to the public, it can be assumed that more lay people can read. Subsequently, there would be a greater desire to read and understand the Word of God themselves without the assistance of clergy. For such a dense subject, MacCulloch approaches his topic with both expertise and a careful hand. Each concept is explained thoroughly and anyone reading his book could understand the Reformation and the complexities of the period. He sets up his argument with a chronological historical narrative to allow the reader to settle into the bulk of the book. All in all, this book adds a fresh perspective on the Reformation and brings the intricacies of the period to a wider audience.
Review by Ashley Fierstadt
Orientalism EDWARD SAID Orientalism is the first academic piece which begins to explain the long history of patronizing Western attitudes towards Asian, North African and Middle Eastern societies. Said states that Western societies have historically depicted the East as ‘undeveloped’ in order to emphasise the superiority of Western culture. This book is especially relevant for the present day. As a society our opinions and actions are shaped by various paradigms of thought which are accepted on individual, academic and political levels. Said successfully shows the ways in which colonialism has exaggerated and distorted the differences of Eastern and Western cultures. Edward Said, born in 1935 in Jerusalem, Palestine, was a University Professor at Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature. Said was not afraid to question and condemn the impact of centuries of colonial activity on the views of the modern mind. Said divides the book into three main chapters. The first chapter, The Scope of Orientalism, explains the various dimensions of Orientalism and how fabrications about the East allows the West to colonise. The following chapter shows the modern orientalist histories in a chronological fashion and the final chapter explores the imperial powers biggest expansions from 1870’s until the Second World War. Said writes in a fluid and concise manner which makes this a very addictive read. One feels, however, that Said tends to generalise a lot of his views. Thus, this read tends to be onedimensional which is a shame given the points made by Said are influential to the modern mind. Yet, the weakness of this book is also its strength. I believe that Said’s generalisations are necessary to understand that the assumptions made by the West have impacted the East for generations. Orientalism is a perfect read for anyone wanting to discover the history behind the phenomenon that has affected the lives of all non-Europeans.
Review by Kimi Shah
MANCHESTER HISTORIAN PRESENTS A NEW ADDITION A podcast run by our Online Team where you can come and discuss your articles in The Manchester Historian or topics youâ€™re passionate about regarding history and academia. Join us at manchesterhistorian.com
The Manchester Historian