Let’s settle in for a nice, long story, shall we?
Globally in the historical era–the past 7,000 or so years of recorded history, that is–politics and leadership has traditionally been gendered male, and power has also usually descended genealogically through patriarchal lines. (Except in cases of military conquest or revolution, when it has been seized by brute force by other men.) When we have seen exceptions to the male exercise of political leadership–but what about Cleopatra?!? you’re thinking, or Queen Elizabeth I of England?!?–they are the exceptions that prove the rule. They also came to power–as their brothers did–by being the children of kings.
Upon emergence of the liberal state around 1800, in which a select portion of citizens elect their political leaders to one degree or another, women’s opportunities to lead and rule were actually diminished, because democracies in this era restricted both voting rights and eligibility for public office to men only. It is an uncomfortable fact for we Americans, we evangelists of democracy, that populism is not liberationist. In fact, it ratifies contemporary prejudices and stereotypes–religious, racial, and of course, gender. In the past century, Western democracies enfranchised women, but women in elective office have remained a tiny or merely small minority compared to men in elective office. Continue reading
Liberty Leading the People, but where?
You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Chaps my a$$!
Kathleen L. Sheppard, a historian of archaeology who blogs at Adventures in History in Archaeology, reported on an interesting article she read at the online publication Broadly, a channel at Vice.com on “The Forgotten Egyptologist and First Wave Feminist Who Invented Wicca,” Margaret Murray, by writer Sarah Waldron. Sheppard was first excited that the subject of her book–the only book-length biography of Murray published in any language–was also the subject of a mainstream publication!
Sheppard’s heart sank as she realized that “the article is quite good. But, to be honest, it is good because most of the work was done by me,” and uncredited in any fashion by the writer:
I saw the article, posted by a fellow Egyptologist on facebook. I read it, excited to learn more about Murray’s work. Maybe there was something in there that I could learn about her witchcraft studies. As I read, I realized that I wasn’t learning anything new. In fact, I was reading my own words, spit back at me, in an online article that was and is being enjoyed by thousands of people. Some of my own phrases, and most definitely my unique analysis of Murray’s life and career, were there for thousands to see. Usually, this makes me very happy. Murray is still little-known outside of a small group of historians and Egyptologists even though she is central to the discipline. I got to the end of the article and realized there were NO citations. Not one. I did a ctrl+F to search for my name, thinking I must have missed where I was mentioned in the article as Murray’s biographer and owner of many of the ideas therein. Nothing.
Sheppard wasn’t interested in money–she just wanted due acknowledgement for her book and her unique intellectual contribution. As she explained in the first blog post: Continue reading
Come and get it!
Much to my surprise, as I’ve been a bit of a grumpypants lately, the post last week on Matthew Pratt Guterl’s “What to Love” really struck a chord with a number of you. Can you stand me blowing more sunshine up your skirt?
In today’s quit-lit-esque Jeremiad, Robert Zaretsky of the University of Houston riffs on Fernand Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II in “The Future of History,” published today in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Braudel’s approach casts light not just on early-modern scholastics, but also on their postmodern descendants. Consider the tempo of life in graduate school: It moves at the same glacial pace as did life during the age of Phillip. Still governed by guildlike regulations and socio-professional traditions that our early-modern ancestors would recognize, the careers of grad students advance as languidly as trade caravans once did across North Africa.
It is hardly surprising, then, that we are unprepared for the tempo and temper of the times. We have handicapped ourselves, in addition, by a process of professional fission, fracturing into a growing number of subdisciplines. As our profession continued to sprawl, we fastened on ever smaller matters, and phrased our work in ever more arcane jargon. Mostly indifferent to the art of storytelling, we have been dying a death by a thousand monographs.
Seriously? The “we’ve forgotten how to tell stories” line again? Just how many copies of The Med and the Med World did Braudel sell outside of university libraries, anyway? Was it a Book of the Month Club selection? Riiiight. Whenever I see that old line trotted out about “dying a death by a thousand monographs,” I see someone getting ready to push someone else out of the lifeboat, or at least hear him tell some kids to get off his lawn.
Enough of the “golden age” fantasies about the awesome, well-paid, and always well-respected scholars of yore. When is your imagined “golden age” for history in these United States–the early and mid-nineteenth century, when only Gentlemen Scholars wrote history and bent it to their Protestant, white, male, triumphalist ends? Just how many of those historians were actually making a living at it? Just about none? Alrighty then. Continue reading
UPDATE, 8/31/15 11:50 a.m. Well, that was fast. The first video was terminated! I’ll let you know if I find another copy somewhere, but if you go to the Who Do You Think You Are schedule, you’ll see the promo with a glimpse of me today. In the meantime, try the link below.
French Protestants! Religious persecution! Siege and starvation! Migration and the bounty of the New World! It’s all posted on YouTube, at least for now:
Tonight’s the night! Set your DVRs for TLC tonight at 9 Eastern/8 Central for Who Do You Think You Are. (Be sure to check your local listings–I told people here the show would be on at 8 p. Mountain time, but it turns out that cable here conforms to the Eastern show times!) You’ll see me join Tom Bergeron in Québec towards the end of his quest to learn about his 10th and ninth great-grandparents.
I don’t know all the details and will be eager to learn them tonight, but from what I learned on our shoot last month, it’s a story that spans France and early Canada. The stories we’ll see are emblematic of the age of religious wars and migration to the New World. Join us and let me know what you think! Continue reading
Everything changes, nothing perishes: or so we hope.
Historians and other humanists who work with historical documents: Run, don’t amble, over to WNYC’s On the Media and listen to this week’s program, which is on the “Digital Dark Age” that may await us if we don’t come to terms with reliable means of saving and retrieving our digitally-stored data. Continue reading