From new free digital archives to a new round of history wars, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.
It’s official: pictures in the Folger’s Digital Image Collection are now licensed CC BY-SA! That is, they can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution–ShareAlike 4.0 International License, one of the two Creative Commons licenses “approved for free cultural works.” That’s almost 80,000 images, and counting. We’ve already started adding images toWikimedia Commons for use in Wikipedia and elsewhere, and encourage you to do the same. . . .I’m not a lawyer, but basically this means you can do whatever you want with Folger digital images as long as you say that they’re from the Folger, and as long as you keep the cycle of sharing going by freely sharing whatever you’re making (UPDATE: This is “free” as in “freedom” or “free speech”—whether use is commercial or not doesn’t make a difference with a CC BY-SA license). [continue reading]
For most of the past thousand years, there were no nations in Europe. It was a hotchpotch of tribal groupings, feudal kingdoms, autonomous cities and trading networks. Over time, the continent’s ever more complex societies and industries required ever more complex governance; with the French Revolution, the modern nation state was born.
Now the nation’s time may be drawing to a close, according to those who look at society through the lenses of complexity theory and human behaviour. There is plentiful evidence for this once you start looking (see “End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries?“). Consider the European Union, which is trying – much to the disapproval of many Europeans – to transcend its member nations. Is this a prospect to welcome or dread? [continue reading]
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will return to India two ancient Hindu statues displayed in Australia, but allegedly stolen from Indian temples. Mr Abbott will hand over the statues to Indian PM Narendra Modi when the two meet in Delhi on Friday. The two sculptures are of god Shiva, a member of the Hindu holy trinity.
Galleries in Australia removed them from display earlier this year following allegations that they were part of an audacious art fraud. Returning the sculptures “is testimony to Australia’s good citizenship on such matters and the importance with which Australia views its relationship with India”, the AFP news agency quoted Mr Abbott’s office as saying. [continue reading]
James R. Grossman
New York Times
WITH the news dominated by stories of Americans dying at home and abroad, it might seem trivial to debate how history is taught in our schools. But if we want students to understand what is happening in Missouri or the Middle East, they need an unvarnished picture of our past and the skills to understand and interpret that picture. People don’t kill one another just for recreation. They have reasons. Those reasons are usually historical.
Last month, the College Board released a revised“curriculum framework” to help high school teachers prepare students for the Advanced Placement test in United States history. Like the college courses the test is supposed to mirror, the A.P. course calls for a dialogue with the past — learning how to ask historical questions, interpret documents and reflect both appreciatively and critically on history. [continue reading]