From teaching indigenous studies to Hong Kong’s forgotten independence movement, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.
Three years ago, Rorie Mcleod Arnould was shocked when he heard that on his university campus, two indigenous students witnessed their peers laughing at an elder as she gave a blessing at a convocation ceremony. Mcleod Arnould, then a politics student and the vice-president of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, was even more startled when he spoke with members of the school’s Aboriginal Students’ Council and heard many more experiences of racism on campus. “It was an awakening moment,” says Mcleod Arnould, 26.
The incident spurred him and other students to action to make their campus inclusive of indigenous students and have a “consequential effect on their education”. “Our minds went to what would be the most ambitious project we could undertake?” The answer to that question goes into effect this fall, when every new undergraduate student at the University of Winnipeg must meet an indigenous course requirement to graduate. Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is also introducing an indigenous content requirement this fall for new undergraduate students, making the two universities the first in Canada to mandate a baseline knowledge about indigenous people and culture for all students, regardless of faculty. [continue reading]
Truth is stranger than dystopian fiction. Last May, for example, United States President Barack Obama announced the opening of the U.S.-sponsored Fulbright University of Vietnam (FUV), the first private university in a small nation the U.S. tried to “bomb back to the Stone Age” half a century ago. Intended to be “a U.S.-style universitynot under control of the Communist Party of Vietnam,” FUV hopes to begin teaching students about how to be good global-era capitalists and world capitalist citizens in the fall of 2017. It’s a collaboration between the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the U.S. State Department. The U.S. government has so far invested roughly$20 million in the project.
The chair of FUV’s board of trustees is Bob Kerrey, a man with an interesting resume. It’s a curiously Orwellian choice. He is a former governor of Nebraska (1983-1987), a former U.S. Senator from the same state (1988-2000), and the former president of the New School University (a curious position for a man whose “higher” educational credentials stopped with a 1966 bachelors’ degree in Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska) in New York City (2001-2010). He is also a highly decorated war criminal in the “crucifixion of Southeast Asia” (as Noam Chomsky once aptly described the U.S. War on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) that was planned by the “best and the brightest” from Harvard and other Ivy League institutions. [continue reading]
One of the most remarkable scholarly undertakings of the past century, the publication of the collected works of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, started in the British Library before the first world war, when an émigré Russian Marxist scholar called David Riazanov began collecting some of Marx’s journalistic articles.
But the project really got off the ground in 1920s Moscow in the Marx-Engels Institute that Riazanov founded, and, after a long interval, was resurrected in the 1970s by the East German and Soviet authorities. After 1989, it continued with funding from the government of the newly reunified Germany and is still ongoing: when it is finished, the full edition is likely to consist of more than a hundred volumes, including not only the authors’ own writings and correspondence but letters to them, jottings and other miscellanea. It will dwarf the numerous other sets of their works, including the collected works in English, which runs to a mere 50 volumes or so. By a striking coincidence, therefore, the demise of communism across Europe has taken place in the very era when the sources on Marx’s life have proliferated. The result has been a gold-mine for historians and biographers and thus something of a golden age for students of Marx’s life. [continue reading]
Colin Kaepernick, the former Pro Bowler, Super Bowl participant and quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, couldn’t take it anymore. The well-publicized deaths of blacks at the hands of police, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the political unwillingness to radically change the institutions and practices that maintain the nation’s status quocompelled him to protest against racial injustice. He did this by refusing to stand during the National Anthem at NFL preseason games.
Now a black athlete that white Americans have cheered on the football field is being widely demonized for daring to “stand with the people that are being oppressed.” His position has placed him at the center of a national debate about race, but also about the fundamental right of an individual to protest against an enduring symbol of American power. Kaepernick is being pilloried on social media for being unpatriotic — an ironic allegation considering the national mourning over the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, who was convicted of draft evasion after he decided, on religious principle, not to serve in Vietnam. Like Ali, Kaepernick decided to follow his conscience no matter the consequences. [continue reading]
It is the type of transformation that underlines the extreme flux in Hong Kong’s political landscape, driven by its restless, anxious younger demographic. In less than two years, Alvin Cheng has gone from bespectacled Brisbane accounting student to one of Hong Kong’s more recognisable political figures. Nicknamed “Four-eyed Brother” by the Hong Kong media, he shot to prominence for his combative style during the Occupy pro-democracy demonstrations which swept the city of 7 million in 2014.
Still only 28, he is now running for public office, contesting a seat in Hong Kong’s legislative council (LegCo) elections on Sunday. In the typically colourful style of Hong Kong elections, Cheng’s campaign material shows him in sporting gear, sweat on his brow, racing forward at full stride. “It’s the critical time for Hong Kong people to take sides,” Cheng says. “To identify whether you’re a Hongkonger or a Chinese. It’s a big difference.” The vote has laid bare divisions that remain in Hong Kong nearly two years after Occupy. [continue reading]