The History Blogging Project

via The History Blogging Project.

Blogging technology has created new opportunities for postgraduate historians to engage with specialist and non-specialist audiences, and to demonstrate the impact of their work by creating and informing new, virtual, public spheres and spaces. While there are a number of for-profit blog training courses in the private sector, there is no training provision in blogging as a method of public engagement for postgraduate historians.

The History Blogging Project aims to fill this gap by developing a set of training resources that will enable postgraduate historians to create, maintain and publicise a blog on their research. The Project tackles issues specific to writing about historical research on a blog, but also includes themes relevant to any postgraduate student in the arts and humanities. Through the development of an online collection of how-to guides, advice and examples taken from current history blogs, the Project aims both to inspire postgraduate historians to blog and to challenge existing bloggers to think about the ways in which they share their research with a range of different audiences.

At the same time, the Project aims to create a forum in which postgraduate historians can network and publicise their blogs.

read more at The History Blogging Project.

Women’s History Sources

We got a tip from friend of R/V, Kate Angell, about this great collaborative blog focused on primary sources.  It’s called Women’s History Sources:

Women’s History Sources is a collaborative blog that serves as a current awareness tool for anyone who is interested in primary sources at archives, historic sites and museums, and libraries. Some of the types of sources that the blog covers:

  • New exhibits in archives, libraries, and museums
  • New digital collections (artifacts, diaries, oral histories, photos, etc.)
  • Featured objects/documents from other blogs and websites
  • “In the News” – stories that feature original documents or artifacts.
  • “On this Day” – digital resources that are related to an event on a specific date.
  • Recent books that include letters, diaries, photographs, et

Check it out!

Melissa Harris-Perry: Michael Vick, Racial History, and Animal Rights

After feeling as if her comments regarding Michael Vick were not properly contextualized on her appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show last night, Melissa Harris-Perry took the opportunity to flesh out the history of race and animal rights on her group blog today.  I was happy to see she tackled the issue of Tucker Carlson’s recent comments that Michael Vick should be executed as punishment for his crimes.  Here, Harris-Perry discusses some crucial historical connections that rarely get discussed:

Recall that North American slavery of the 17th and 18th century is distinguished by its “chattel” element.  New World slavery did not consider enslaved Africans to be conquered persons, but to be chattel, beast of burden, fully subhuman and therefore not requiring the basic rights of humans. By defining slaves as animals and then abusing them horribly the American slave system degraded both black people and animals. By equating black people to animals it both asserted the superiority of humans to animals, arrayed some humans (black people) as closer to animals and therefore less human, and implied that all subjugated persons and all animals could be used and abused at the will of those who were  more powerful. The effects were pernicious for both black people and for animals….

Not only have animals been used as weapons against black people, but many African Americans feel that the suffering of animals evokes more empathy and concern among whites than does the suffering of black people.  For example, in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina dozens of people sent me a link to an image of pets being evacuated on an air conditioned bus. This image was a sickening juxtaposition to the conditions faced by tens of thousands of black residents trapped by the storm and it provoked great anger and pain for those who sent it to me.

I sensed that same outrage in the responses of many black people who heard Tucker Carlson call for Vick’s execution as punishment for his crimes.  It was a contrast made more raw by the recent decision to give relatively light sentences to the men responsible for the death of Oscar Grant. Despite agreeing that Vick’s acts were horrendous, somehow the Carlson’s moral outrage seemed misplaced. It also seemed profoundly racialized. For example, Carlson did not call for the execution of BP executives despite their culpability in the devastation of Gulf wildlife. He did not denounce the Supreme Court for their decision in US v. Stevens (April 2010) which overturned a portion of the 1999 Act Punishing Depictions of Animal Cruelty. After all with this “crush” decision the Court seems to have validated a marketplace for exactly the kinds of crimes Vick was convicted of committing.  For many observers, the decision to demonize Vick seems motivated by something more pernicious than concern for animal welfare. It seems to be about race.

Read Melissa Harris-Perry’s full blog here at TheNation.com’s group blog, The Notion. (WARNING: Disturbing images.)

–Rosamund Hunter

Because Race Matters: How Women’s Historians Have Dealt with the Race Question

by Nydia Swaby

Academics are often inspired by the work of their predecessors and peers; this is especially true within the field of women’s history. Historians that acknowledge racial difference in their work share a collective understanding that examining race should be central to historical research and writing. Intellectual historian Elsa Barkley Brown and labor historians Dana Frank and Dolores Janiewski address racial difference in their scholarship and have inspired younger generations of historians to do the same. Through their scholarship Barkley Brown, Frank, and Janiewski demonstrate that in order to adequately represent the lives of women in any context, historians must acknowledge the ways in which race has shaped their subjects’ lives, and in doing so they may uncover a wealth of information that would otherwise go unrecognized.

In “What Has Happened Here: The Politics of Difference in Women’s History and Feminist Politics,” Elsa Barkley Brown considers why feminist historians are hesitant to acknowledge racial difference. According to Barkley Brown, some feminist historians and political activists fear that incorporating racial difference will muddle their attempts to “produce and defend women’s history and women’s politics” in support of a unified women’s movement.[i] However Brown insists that considering racial differences might be the way to establish a women’s community that is bonded in intellectual and political struggle.[ii] Brown takes that argument one step further and proclaims that it is unacceptable for historians to simply acknowledge racial differences. They “need to recognize not only differences but also the relational nature of those differences,” meaning that even when historians are examining the experiences of white women, they should also explore the impact race has had on shaping their lives.[iii] Barkley Brown agues that middle-class white women’s lives are not just different from working-class white, Black, and Latina women’s lives; middle-class white women live the lives they do because working-class women and women of color live the lives they do.[iv] Or as Dana Frank so poignantly stated in “White Working-Class Women and the Race Question”, “[r]ace is not just a question of difference, moreover: It’s about domination, and white women enjoyed racial privilege precisely because [women] of color were there holding them up.”[v] Continue reading

Dis/assembling Identity: From the Margins to the Page

by Muriel Leung

(Note: This paper is a condensed rewrite of an original piece which is currently 60 pages in length)

The emergence of Asian American poetry as a genre is not without its historical grounds. Asian Americans’ contributions to the radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s eras introduced performance, song, and poetry as forms of protest against injustices towards Asian Americans during this politically volatile time. The social and political materials which informed Asian American experience were later solidified as a new type of genre by the spirit of 1980s multiculturalism in which Asian American writers as well as other writers of color began to gain mainstream appeal. The dramatic shift in social and political visibility played a valuable role in the transformation of Asian American identity discourse as it grew from grassroots arts and political movements to earning the institutional legitimacy of academic scholarship.

A discussion of Asian American poetry as a genre and “Asian American” as an identity is impossible without recognition of its social and political grounding. While these were formidable years that demonstrated the efforts of countless Asian American activists and artists to concretize their presence in the traditionally exclusionary U.S. historical narrative, contemporary Asian American identity discourse acknowledges that this identity is more prone to fracture than union. This is not to say that the works of previous Asian American scholars and activists have failed in their efforts. Rather, in the face of dramatically shifting political and social terrains, Asian American poets are challenging traditional ideas of identity formation, and ushering in new themes and styles of exploring Asian American identity which welcome fragmentation. Continue reading

Then and Now: The Thesis Process and the Power of History

by Anne Louise Cranwell

Photo courtesy of the author

A few years ago, a close friend of mine compared his medical school experience to inserting a hose into his mouth and turning on the water full blast.  Needless to say, it was stressful, and he had forgotten that he chose medicine to help people.  My experiences as a Women’s History grad student have not been quite so dramatic, but at times I felt as though my head was barely above water.  The feeling of “drowning” is something one might experience often; however, the feeling passes, and you just keep on swimming.  When this amazing blog began, I wrote of my early thesis travails, and when I read those words now, I think of how far I have come and how much my thesis has changed, not to mention my knowledge and my confidence.  At times, I had no clue what I was doing, but my passion for my topic never faltered. Continue reading

Five Questions with Randi Hutter Epstein, MD

by Victoria Sollecito

Randi Hutter Epstein is the author of new book, Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. Epstein has an MS from The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and an M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine. She is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia and has written for the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Parents, and Harper’s Bazaar as well as numerous other newspapers and magazines. In Get Me Out, Epstein uses her medical knowledge and investigative skills to take an historical (and humorous) look at childbirth through the ages. She spoke to the Women’s History graduate students earlier this month and sat down with Re/Visionist to talk about the birth of her first book. Continue reading