• History by Legislative Decree

    by Cliopatria

    A bill passed this week by the California legislature (but not yet signed by the governor) requires that public schools teach gay and lesbian history. Predictably, though, the framing is unfortunate. Here's the relevant section of the Education Code as SB 48 would amend it:

    "Instruction in social sciences shall include the early
    history of California and a study of the role and contributions of
    both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican
    Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans,
    lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with
    disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the
    economic, political, and social development of California and the
    United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the
    role of these groups in contemporary society."

    So the point of the history of defined groups is that they contributed to the development of the state and the nation. The value of the life of an individual or a social group is what they do for the blended society and its political institutions. Government-mandated gay and lesbian history will be the usual massively lame contributionist pablum.

  • Forget It, Jake

    by Cliopatria

    I look a little like this, today -- but less handsome, and with far less personal dignity -- because I've been reading online discussions about the Boston College subpoena, and most say that my goodness, this academic freedom stuff is nonsense, are you saying that the police shouldn't catch murderers!?!?

    There's an unmistakable stickiness to the underlying assumption: if the police say they're trying to catch murderers, then they must obviously be trying to catch murderers. I mean, my god, they're the police! Wherever they are, whatever political system and social context created them, whatever historical moment they occupy, cops are cops, and "the police" are always, everywhere, and at all times the people who show up and try to restore order when people do bad things. They make justice like a baker makes cupcakes. It's just what they are.

  • Boston College (Cont.): Fixing a Broken Frame

    by Cliopatria

    News reports frame the federal subpoena for confidential interview materials at Boston College as a threat to oral history scholarship. This is how the framing began; nearly two months later, this is how it continues.

    But this framing misses the point. The Department of Justice did not say, in its friday court filing, that academic freedom is a meaningless claim of privilege in cases involving oral history research. What they said is that academic freedom is a meaningless claim of privilege, full stop. They did not say that the courts have no role in evaluating foreign requests made under the terms of mutual legal assistance treaties for oral history materials; they said that the courts have no role in evaluating foreign requests made under the terms of mutual legal assistance treaties.

  • Boston College (Cont.): AUSA Todd Braunstein, the Infamous Irish Politician

    by Cliopatria

    One new fact, twice the clarity.

    In two previous posts, I argued that the federal subpoena for confidential oral history materials held at Boston College was probably not what it seemed. Pursuing the records of historical interviews with former members of the Provisional IRA following a request from the British government, the Department of Justice claims to be aiding a murder investigation; the more likely reality is that they're helping to frame a purely political case against Sinn Fein after its recent successes during the February election in the Republic of Ireland. I won't rehash that claim here, but you can follow the two links above for background.

    So then, on Friday, the DOJ filed its response to BC's motion to quash the subpoena. I discussed that response here, if you missed it.

  • World History in Beijing

    by Cliopatria

    Well folks, I'm off the the World History Association Meeting in Beijing.   One year in three, the WHA holds it's conference outside of the US (recent international conferences were in the UK and Morocco).  This year's meeting, in particular, reflects a growing Chinese investment in World History, something which to date has largely been a US and Australian affair.

    I've got a pretty full slate of duties during the conference, but I'll try to post a bit from Beijing...

  • DOJ on Boston College: Academic Freedom a Legally Meaningless "Quasi-Privilege"

    by Cliopatria

    On Friday, the Department of Justice filed its response to the motion by Boston College to quash a federal subpoena for confidential oral history materials related to Northern Irish paramilitary violence. The government's response is unmistakably aggressive in tone and in scope. Read the brief here. The most remarkable claims, with emphasis added:

  • A Series of Gut Punches

    by Cliopatria

    The Department of Justice has filed its response to Boston College's motion to quash the subpoena for oral history interviews of former Provisional IRA members. I'll write about this later, but for now, here's the response. I didn't start to feel really disgusted until I reached the bottom of the first page. And it's all been downhill from there.

    More later.

  • Weak Endnotes

    by Cliopatria

    Tim Abbott hosts "History Carnival 100," Walking the Berkshires, 1 July. It's a triumph, worthy of the occasion! Chris Brady hosts the Biblical Studies Carnival at Targuman, 1 July.

    Matthew Price reviews David Abulafia's The Great Sea: A history of the Mediterranean for The National, 1 July.

    Emma Mustich interviews Cornell's "Steven Kaplan on the History of Food," The Browser, 30 June, for his recommendation of five crucial books on the subject.

    Joshua Kendall, "Publishing's Founding Father," Daily Beast, 1 July, draws on research for his new book, The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of An American Culture.

  • Thursday's Notes

    by Cliopatria

  • Daisy Banks interviews "Daniel Headrick on Technology and Nature," The Browser, 29 June, for his choice of five crucial books on the subject.
  • Ronald Hutton reviews Craig Koslofsky's Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe for the THE, 23 June. Jack Rakove, "The Secret Agent," The Book, 30 June, reviews Thomas J. Schaeper's Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy. Sophia Rosenfeld, "The Fight Over Common Sense," Daily Beast, 29 June, draws on her research for Common Sense: A Political History. Bookforum, 29 June, rounds up reviews of recent books on the reshaping of the British Empire.
  • Jean Bollack, "The Freudian romance," signandsight, 9 June, reviews Sigmund Freud's and Martha Bernays's "Sei mein, wie ich mir's denke. Die Brautbriefe".