A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘colonialism

[NEWS] Five history links: Himalayas, bad maps, United States, Ontario Prohibition, Easter Island

  • Reddit’s unresolvedmysteries highlights a historical conundrum: Who were these hundreds of people from all over Asia who died in a remote district of the Indian Himalayas centuries ago?
  • Smithsonian Magazine notes why 18th century Europeans prized even wildly inaccurate maps and images of colonial cities in the Americas.
  • J.M. Opal’s argument at The Conversation that the United States, dominated by a rigid oligarchy, is as unreformable as 18th century Britain is depressing.
  • The suggestion of Dan Malleck at The Conversation, looking back at the Ontario pre-Prohibition history of unregulated alcohol sales, that the Ford deregulation of marijuana sales might be short-sighted, seems plausible.
  • George Dvorsky at Gizmodo shares the latest evidence that pre-contact Easter Island did not undergo a great violent collapse, with no signs of a major conflict.

[NEWS] Six links about Black Panther and Wakanda (#blackpanther, #wakanda)

  • The Counterfactual History Review takes/u> a look at the plausibility of Wakanda, as a society, and finds it holds up. (There’s something to be said about having the problems of one’s own society being indigenous, not imposed by colonizers.)
  • This article takes a look at the interest of Lesotho, a mountainous kingdom of southern Africa that was never quite fully colonized, on the idea of Wakanda.
  • What is the relationship of Wakanda to Africa and the wider black diaspora? This article makes an argument. (Spoilers.)
  • Queer representation in Wakanda is a real thing. All the more frustrating, then, if it is not quite realized.
  • The Toronto Public Library’s The Buzz points readers to more comics exploring Black Panther and Wakanda.
  • Vulture takes a look at Christopher Priest, the writer who helped make Black Panther the character he is today more than a decade ago but then disappeared.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Architectuul considers the humanizing potential of brutalism in the context of a London filled with impersonal skyscrapers.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the ways the habitable-zone super-Earths of K2-18 reveal our solar system to be exceptional.
  • Centauri Dreams notes evidence for active plate tectonics in the ice crust of Europa, suggesting an ocean being replenished with nutrients and possibly suitable for life.
  • D-Brief notes the sourcing of the iron in the artifacts of the Bronze Act in meteorites.
  • Daily JSTOR reports on how Hollywood coped during the Red Scare of the 1950s.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the exciting discovery of tapes recording Devo jamming with David Bowie and Brian Eno.
  • Cody Delistraty considers if the restitution of artworks looted from once-colonized territories might not be a cheap substitute for deeper changes.
  • Language Hat shares a student essay comparing, during the First World War, the United States’ campaign against German and the German campaign against French.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues against a British nostalgia for monarchy and empire that overlooks the real injustices perpetrated at Britain’s imperial peak.
  • Lingua Franca notes the remarkable power of the #metoo movement.
  • The LRB Blog notes the exceptional complexity of the issue of Jerusalem, especially after Trump’s actions.
  • The Map Room Blog shares links to a variety of maps of the Halifax Explosion and its effects.
  • The NYR Daily looks at some of the legacies of the Salvadoran civil war.
  • Peter Watts makes an argument in favour of the dystopia in contemporary science fiction.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla reports that South Korea is planning its first Moon expedition for 2020.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Argentina, at its peak, offered as good or even better chances for social mobility for immigrants than the United States.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a photograph showing the electronic system used by defunct Charlottetown nightclub Myron’s for dispensing drinks.
  • Towleroad reports on one consequence of Australia’s acceptance of gay marriage: Will Calvin Harris remix the Spice Girls song “2 Become 1”, as he promised?
  • Window on Eurasia shares a list of eight reasons explaining why Finland was unique in the former Russian Empire in maintaining its independence from Moscow.

[FORUM] What do you think will happen to First Nations, in North America and elsewhere,?

Today particularly, I’ve been posting a lot of links about First Nations, their identities and the political movements and their cultural revivals. This year does seem to be a big year for indigenous movement, building on previous protests like last year’s Idle No More movement.

What do you see coming of all this?


Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes how expensive Toronto’s rental market is.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system.
  • Crooked Timber engages with the complexities of racism.
  • The Crux shares some oral history about the detection of the first gravitational wave.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports about the difficulties involved with detecting exoplanets around red dwarfs and describes the discovery of a super-Earth orbiting an orange dwarf in the Pleiades.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that New York City ended free web browsing at browsing stations because people kept looking up porn.
  • Language Log notes that a partially shared script does not make Chinese readable by speakers of Japanese, and vice versa.
  • Marginal Revolution cautions against the idea that Brexit is over.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer talks about the usefulness of counterfactuals, especially good counterfactuals.
  • Torontoist argues that the TTC needs more cats. Why not?
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a comparative global study of settlements in occupied territories.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that Google has displaced television as a primary source of news for Russians.

[LINK] “Facebook and the New Colonialism”

The Atlantic‘s Adrienne Lafrance examines how Facebook stumbled into a needless confrontation over colonialism in India.

Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.

First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.

“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”

After that, the Internet went nuts.

Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”

The kerfuffle elicited a torrent of criticism for Andreessen, but the connection he made—between Facebook’s global expansion and colonialism—is nothing new. Which probably helps explain why Zuckerberg felt the need to step in, and which brings us back to Free Basics. The platform, billed by Facebook as a way to help people connect to the Internet for the first time, offers a stripped-down version of the mobile web that people can use without it counting toward their data-usage limit.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 12, 2016 at 4:39 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow reflects on Mulcair’s decision to ignore the debates boycotted by Harper, and examines the decline of the Bloc Québécois.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reflects on the social forces pressuring people, especially women, to smile.
  • Centauri Dreams reflects n the pessimism over the potential of interstellar expansion in Kim Stanley Robinson’s new Aurora.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study examining the links between concentrations of elements in stars and their exoplanets, shares art of HD 219134b, wonders about distributions of brown dwarfs in nearby interstellar space, wonders if a lithium-rich giant star known as HD 107028 swallowed its planets, and imagines compact exoplanets made of dark matter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a study of the growth of the state of Tiahuanaco, and imagines what a durable Russian-American relationship could have been.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at dodgy Greek statistics.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the new New Order single, “Restless.”
  • Language Hat celebrated its thirteen anniversary and looked at the ephemeral St. Petersburg English Review of the 19th century.
  • Language Log examines the origins of modern China’s standard language, and looks at the reasons why French texts are longer than English ones.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines settler violence in Israel.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how charity, in an age of global income disparities, is inexpensive, and notes the economic issues of Cambodia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Cilla Black.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at Ossetian demographics and examines the growth of Kazakhs in Kazakhstan after 1991.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle likes the Cosmonaut Volkov heirloom tomatoes.
  • Towleroad reports on a push for marriage equality on the Navajo reservation.
  • Understanding Society examines the concept of microfoundations.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia’s war in Ukraine has been underachieving, argues Ukrainians should not count on change in Russia, reports on a Russian writer who wants the Donbas to be separated from Ukraine as a buffer, looks at ethnic Russian identity and propensity to emigrate in Kazakhstan, and looks at the identity of Belarusians in Siberia.

[LINK] “Germany set to recognize genocide in colonial Namibia”

Al Jazeera reports on the noteworthy impending recognition by Germany of the campaign waged againdt the Herero of then-German Southwest Africa as genocide.

German authorities are set to officially recognize as “genocide” the colonial-era crackdown in Namibia by German troops more than a century ago in which over 65,000 ethnic Hereros were killed.

Talks with Namibia on a joint declaration about the events of the early 20th century are ongoing, and it isn’t clear when they will be concluded, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday.

The basis for the German government’s approach is a parliamentary motion signed three years ago by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, stating that “the war of destruction in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 was a war crime and genocide,” Schaefer said. Steinmeier was an opposition leader at the time, and the motion didn’t pass.

German Gen. Lothar von Trotha — who was sent to what was then South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros against their German rulers in 1904 — instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe in what is widely seen as the 20th century’s first genocide, historians say.

On Oct. 2, 1904, Trotha issued a proclamation: “Within the German boundaries, every Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle will be shot. I shall not accept more women and children. … I shall order shots to be fired at them.”

Rounded up in prison camps, captured Hereros and as well as members of the Nama tribe died from malnutrition and severe weather. Dozens were beheaded after their deaths and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for “scientific” experiments.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2015 at 6:57 pm

[LINK] Ta-Nehisi Coates on what the Civil War was all about

In an essay at The Atlantic that demonstrates his typical brilliance, “What This Cruel War Was Over”, Ta-Nehisi Coates goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the Confederacy–and, by extension, its flag–were all about slavery and white racism.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states[.]

I was pleased to see this reference:

Thus in 1861, when the Civil War began, the Union did not face a peaceful Southern society wanting to be left alone. It faced an an aggressive power, a Genosha, an entire society based on the bondage of a third of its residents, with dreams of expanding its fields of the bondage further South. It faced the dream of a vast American empire of slavery.

The island country of Genosha in the Marvel universe is a state off the east African coast notorious for its practice of mutant slavery.

If only I could exercise my wit and intelligence in as thorough and topical a manner as Coates! Read the essay: it’s superb.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm

[PHOTO] “But they weren’t doing much, so we killed them all … ?”

"But they weren't doing much, so we killed them all ... ?"

This May 2013 photo was taken as I was walking with my father down the former course of Garrison Creek, along Bathurst Street near Fort York. On the side of a stairway leading from the street towards the fort, builders had erected a wall with a potted history of the Toronto area, the only entry relating to native peoples being a notation that First Nations settled the area circa 9000 BC. Below that entry, someone had scrawled some graffiti: “But they weren’t doing much, so we killed them all … ?”

First Nations erasure is a major problem in Canadian history. In this particular case, the graffiti artist missed a singular point about Toronto’s pre-European history, that there were no mass killings of indingenous peoples by Europeans, that the main mass killings were conducted by other indigenous peoples. The mid-17th century Beaver Wars fought for control of the North American fur trade ended up seeing the dispersion of the native groups indigenous to south-central Ontario, notably the Huron. C.M.W. Marcel’s 2006 Counterweights essay goes into interesting detail about the ephemeral Iroquois colonization of the northern shores of Lake Ontario. This settlement included two villages in modern Toronto’s boundaries, Teiaiagon on the eastern shore of the Humber River in west-end Toronto and Ganatsekwyagon in east-end Toronto on the Rouge River. That first village later hosted the Mississaugas, an Algonquian-speaking Ojibwa group that has since been displaced from the area. (Wayne Roberts’ 2013 NOW Toronto essay is recommended.)

History is interesting.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 28, 2014 at 10:27 am