A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘imperialism

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • 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.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes J0045, once thought to be a star in Andromeda and but recognized as a binary black hole a thousand times further away.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the longevity of the Voyager mission.
  • D-Brief notes that some worms can thrive in a simulacrum of Mars soil.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes an ambitious effort to try to detect a transit of Proxima Centauri b. Did the researchers pick something up?
  • Hornet Stories links to a report suggesting HIV denialism is worryingly common in parts of Russia.
  • Language Log reports on an apparently oddly bilingual Chinese/Vietnamese poster. Where did it come from?
  • The LRB Blog reports on how Tunisian Anouar Brahem fused jazz with Arabic music on his new album Blue Maqems.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a lecture by John Cloud on indigenous contributions to mapmaking in Alaska.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the grim position of Theresa May in Brexit negotiations.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers what would have happened if the Americas had not been populated in 1492. How would imperialism and settlement differ?
  • Roads and Kingdoms notes some of the architectural legacies–houses, for instance–of Basque settlement in the American West.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes three conundrums that neutrinos might be able to solve.
  • Window on Eurasia notes why Russia is hostile, despite its program of merging federal units, to the idea of uniting Tatarstan with Bashkortostan.
  • Using an interwar map of Imperial Airways routes, Alex Harrowell illustrates how the construction of globalized networks can make relatively marginal areas quite central.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about two days recently spent in Washington D.C. I would like to go there myself, I think, and for more than a quick bus transfer in the night.
  • Crooked Timber considers what the upper classes of the United States are getting from the new tax cuts.
  • Daily JSTOR considers the ethics of having the art of Banksy displayed in the occupied West Bank. Is it ethical?
  • Far Outliers notes the impact of missionary organizations on the US Peace Corps.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas notes that the “we” used in talk about technology does not include everyone, that it is a selective “we.”
  • Imageo shares satellite imagery of the Arctic suggesting this winter in North America will be a harsh one.
  • Language Hat links to an article noting the dialect of English that refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos have developed.
  • The LRB Blog shares a report of a visit to the Estonian National Museum, and a reflection on the mythology of nationhood.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper claiming legalized abortion, not birth control, played the leading role in the emancipation of American women.
  • The NYR Daily notes the cult of personality surrounding Obama.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders what happened to the Afro-Argentines, numerous until the 19th century.
  • Drew Rowsome notes a reading of the classic gay Canadian play Fortune and Men’s Eyes, scheduled for the 11th at Buddies in Bad Times.
  • Window on Eurasia links to a scholarly examination of the Soviet annexation of once-independent Tannu Tuva, back in 1944.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Centauri Dreams takes a look at how stellar winds from red dwarfs complicate the habitability of planets in their circumstellar habitable zones.
  • The Crux, noting the 75th anniversary of the atomic age, notes some non-nuclear weapons achievements of this era.
  • D-Brief notes the exceptional strength of prehistoric women farmers.
  • Daily JSTOR takes a look at the instantaneity and power–frightening power, even–of celebrity culture in an era where technology gives us access to the intimate details of their lives.
  • Far Outliers notes that Pearl Buck, American author and missionary in China, actually was egalitarian and feminist.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas considers all those texts created in the past, of importance then and relevant even now, which have been forgotten. How can the canon be restored?
  • Imageo shares photos of the eruption of Mount Agung, in Bali.
  • Language Hat notes the intense interest of Roman Italy in all things Egyptian, including hieroglyphics. Where, exactly, was the like European interest in the cultures it colonized more recently?
  • Language Log tries to find people who can identify the source language of a particular text. It seems Turkic …
  • Lingua France talks about Robert Luis Stevenson and his opinions (and the blogger’s) about the weather of Edinburgh.
  • Lovesick Cyborg notes the seriously destabilizing potential of roboticization on human employment. To what extent can improving education systems help?
  • Tariq Ali at the LRB Blog talks about the latest religious-political crisis in Pakistan.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an article describing a Vietnamese historian’s search for cartographic proof of his country’s claims in the South China Sea.
  • The NYR Daily considers an interesting question: how, exactly, do you get an actor to act naturally for film? What strategies do filmmakers use?
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes a new genetic study hinting at a much greater survival of indigenous populations–women, at least–in Argentina than was previously suspected.
  • Roads and Kingdoms notes an interesting effort to try to preserve and restore the older districts of Kabul.
  • Seriously Science notes the exploration of the microbial life populating the coffee machine sludge of some inquisitive scientists.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that substantially Russian-populated northern Kazakhstan is at risk of becoming a new Russian target, especially after Nazarbayev goes.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares some thoughts on people of colour and the LGBTQ rainbow flag.

[NEWS] Four notes about futures, economies, apocalypses, and salvations

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  • Don Pittis plausibly suggests that, with spiraling inequality and the rise of tax havens, capitalism may be starting to break down. How can it function if the masses are excluded from prosperity? CBC has it.
  • Thomas Wright suggests that, between Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, it’s entirely possible their conflicting ambitions for themselves and their countries could trigger catastrophe. The Irish Times hosts the article.
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  • Zach Ruiter makes a depressingly plausible case for climate change, particularly, triggering human extinction in the near term, over at NOW Toronto.
  • Issie Lapowsky reports on how the equivalent of a guaranteed minimum income among the Eastern Band of the Cherokee has had significant positive effects on the lives of recipients, over at Wired.

[AH] “Accounting for Thanksgiving’s Ghosts”

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For Thanksgiving, Jacobin Magazine reposted a provocative essay by Suresh Naidu, imagining what the United States would be like if its indigenous population had not died or been killed, “Accounting for Thanksgiving’s Ghosts”. This United States would certainly have been fundamentally different.

If ten million Native Americans experienced .5 percent population growth — a possibly conservative figure, considering indigenous populations were likely nowhere near the carrying capacity of the environment (world population growth has been almost 1 percent per year over the twentieth century, maxing out at 1.18 percent) — then the United States would currently have at least 130 million natives.

If they had been treated the same way Protestant colonialists treated other native populations — segregation with little intermixing — the resulting impoverishment would have radically reshaped the American social landscape.

[. . .]

Let’s assume that American society repressed and excluded natives no more and no less than it does in the real world, and so suppose that they would earn the income per capita of current Native Americans, roughly $18,000 a year. American GDP per capita would fall from $54,000 to something like $40,000, roughly equal to France. Inequality would obviously be much greater, something like what contemporary Colombia — the world’s eighth most unequal country — experiences.

Of course, these are just rough calculations, and the entire exercise is pretty speculative. But the effects of this thought experiment ripple out in fascinating ways.

The whole American social structure would obviously have changed. The political institutions required would have probably made the United States more like Latin America than the United Kingdom.

Colossally larger humanitarian disasters — massacres, population displacements, and internment camps — would have been necessary to keep the native population separate from the settlers.

Slavery on a large scale would likely have been maintained. Columbus turned first contact into the first Atlantic slave trade, filling boats back to Spain with captured Native Americans. Recent scholarship has shown how violence and coerced labor played an important role in creating the conditions for population collapse in the New World. Just as European slave demand amplified pre-existing slave systems beyond recognition in Africa, so too in the New World.

Some of his demographic assumptions, as have been pointed out elsewhere, are problematic. Projecting a population of ten million Native Americans circa 1500 five centuries into the future, while using the rates of population growth of the medically advanced 20th century to do the projecting, has obvious issues. Were I to write this essay, I would have looked towards Africa during this time period as a control.

Naidu is correct, I think, in that the persistence of a substantial indigenous population in most of the United States will fundamentally alter the settlement patterns. South Africa may well be a useful paradigm, with the western and northern Cape being mostly Afrikaansophone thanks to the long settlement but the remainder of the country, conquered much more recently, being overwhelmingly non-white. The densely settled Mississippi, in this alt-US, may well be a significant barrier.

(The same principle, incidentally, holds for the other predominantly settler-descended societies of the Western Hemisphere, from the Southern Cone up to Canada.)

This is not an achievable alternate history, mind; some sort of epidemiological catastrophe was inevitable. It is possible, however, that it might have been less severe if there was less imperialism. The desire of European imperialists to take control of indigenous populations and to use their resources, labour and otherwise, to finance their empire-building aggravated the catastrophe that befell the peoples of the Western Hemisphere, “from Labrador to Araucanïa” as Naidu put it. If these people had been allowed time to recover and not (for instance) be made into serfs working for European overlords, I would be willing to bet that they could recover.

Table 4 Origins of New World Populations//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Table 4 from Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian’s paper “The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas”, published in Journal of Economic Perspectives 24.2 (163-188), here reproduced for the ease of sharing, depicts the scale of the catastrophe. Could this have been avoided.

(More on this to come.)

Written by Randy McDonald

November 24, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • James Bow shares a deeply personal memory about a streetcar stop by Queens Quay where his life was recently transformed.
  • D-Brief notes that antimatter is one byproduct of lightning. (Really.)
  • Daily JSTOR counsels against buying into the scam of “authenticity.”
  • Language Hat shares a 2005 essay by Patricia Palmer, talking about how the spread of English was intimately linked with imperialism, first in Ireland then overseas.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money is strongly against Black Friday.
  • The NYR Daily notes that Donald Trump’s hardline policies are not going to help bring about change in Cuba.
  • Out There talks about how we are able to be pretty sure that interstellar asteorid ‘Oumuamua is not an extraterrestrial artifact.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer tries to imagine, economically, what an American Ontario would be like.
  • Roads and Kingdoms talks about some good local beer enjoyed in Chiapas.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel shares a list of ten scientific phenomena we should be thankful for, if we want to exist.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares a photo of his Christmas bell flowering maple.