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A Comparative Study
Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal
Irish Americans who supported the movement for the repeal of the act of parliamentary union between Ireland and Great Britain during the early 1840s encountered controversy over the issue of American slavery. Encouraged by abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, repeal leader Daniel O’Connell often spoke against slavery, issuing appeals for Irish Americans to join the antislavery cause. With each speech, American repeal associations debated the proper response to such sentiments and often chose not to support abolition. In American Slavery, Irish Freedom, Angela F. Murphy examines the interactions among abolitionists, Irish nationalists, and American citizens as the issues of slavery and abolition complicated the first transatlantic movement for Irish independence. The call of Old World loyalties, perceived duties of American citizenship, and regional devotions collided for these Irish Americans as the slavery issue intertwined with their efforts on behalf of their homeland. By looking at the makeup and rhetoric of the American repeal associations, the pressures on Irish Americans applied by both abolitionists and American nativists, and the domestic and transatlantic political situation that helped to define the repealers’ response to antislavery appeals, Murphy investigates and explains why many Irish Americans did not support abolitionism. Murphy refutes theories that Irish immigrants rejected the abolition movement primarily for reasons of religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or the desire to assert a white racial identity. Instead, she suggests, their position emerged from Irish Americans’ intention to assert their loyalty toward their new republic during what was for them a very uncertain time. The first book-length study of the Irish repeal movement in the United States, American Slavery, Irish Freedom conveys the dilemmas that Irish Americans grappled with as they negotiated their identity and adapted to the duties of citizenship within a slaveholding republic, shedding new light on the societal pressures they faced as the values of that new republic underwent tremendous change.
The Religious Mind-set of Modern Terrorists
The Red Brigades were a far-left terrorist group in Italy formed in 1970 and active all through the 1980s. Infamous around the world for a campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and bank robberies intended as a "concentrated strike against the heart of the State," the Red Brigades' most notorious crime was the kidnapping and murder of Italy's former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978. In the late 1990s, a new group of violent anticapitalist terrorists revived the name Red Brigades and killed a number of professors and government officials. Like their German counterparts in the Baader-Meinhof Group and today's violent political and religious extremists, the Red Brigades and their actions raise a host of questions about the motivations, ideologies, and mind-sets of people who commit horrific acts of violence in the name of a utopia.
In the first English edition of a book that has won critical acclaim and major prizes in Italy, Alessandro Orsini contends that the dominant logic of the Red Brigades was essentially eschatological, focused on purifying a corrupt world through violence. Only through revolutionary terror, Brigadists believed, could humanity be saved from the putrefying effects of capitalism and imperialism. Through a careful study of all existing documentation produced by the Red Brigades and of all existing scholarship on the Red Brigades, Orsini reconstructs a worldview that can be as seductive as it is horrifying. Orsini has devised a micro-sociological theory that allows him to reconstruct the group dynamics leading to political homicide in extreme-left and neonazi terrorist groups. This "subversive-revolutionary feedback theory" states that the willingness to mete out and suffer death depends, in the last analysis, on how far the terrorist has been incorporated into the revolutionary sect.
Orsini makes clear that this political-religious concept of historical development is central to understanding all such self-styled "purifiers of the world." From Thomas Müntzer's theocratic dream to Pol Pot's Cambodian revolution, all the violent "purifiers" of the world have a clear goal: to build a perfect society in which there will no longer be any sin and unhappiness and in which no opposition can be allowed to upset the universal harmony. Orsini's book reconstructs the origins and evolution of a revolutionary tradition brought into our own times by the Red Brigades.
Synthesis and Achievement
The popular notion that sees the Anglo-Saxon era as “The Dark Ages” perhaps has tended to obscure for many people the creations and strengths of that time. This collection, in examining many aspects of pre-Norman Britain, helps to illuminate how Anglo-Saxon society contributed to the continuity of knowledge between the ancient world and the modern world. But as well, it posits a view of that society in its own distinctive terms to show how it developed as a synthesis of radically different cultures.
The Bayeux Tapestry is examined for its underlying political motivations; the study of Old English literature is extended to such works as laws, charters, apocryphal literature, saints’ lives and mythologies, and many of these are studied for the insight they provide into the social structures of the Anglo-Saxons. Other essays examine both the institution of slavery and the use of Germanic warrior terminology in Old Saxon as a contribution towards the descriptive analysis of that society’s social groupings. The book also presents a perspective on the Christian church that is usually overlooked by historians: that its existence was continuous and influential from Roman times, and that it was greatly affected by the Celtic Christian church long after the latter was thought to have disintegrated.
The Body and Narratives of the Social in Victorian Britain
Anonymous Connections asks how the Victorians understood the ethical, epistemological, and biological implications of social belonging and participation. Specifically, Tina Choi considers the ways nineteenth-century journalists, novelists, medical writers, and social reformers took advantage of spatial frames-of-reference in a social landscape transforming due to intense urbanization and expansion. New modes of transportation, shifting urban demographics, and the threat of epidemics emerged during this period as anonymous and involuntary forms of contact between unseen multitudes. While previous work on the early Victorian social body have tended to describe the nineteenth-century social sphere in static political and class terms, Choi’s work charts new critical terrain, redirecting attention to the productive—and unpredictable—spaces between individual bodies as well as to the new narrative forms that emerged to represent them. Anonymous Connections makes a significant contribution to scholarship on nineteenth-century literature and British cultural and medical history while offering a timely examination of the historical forebears to modern concerns about the cultural and political impact of globalization.
This book is a project in comparative history, but along two distinct axes, one historical and the other historiographical. Its purpose is to constructively juxtapose the early modern European and Chinese approaches to historical study that have been called "antiquarian." As an exercise in historical recovery, the essays in this volume amass new information about the range of antiquarian-type scholarship on the past, on nature, and on peoples undertaken at either end of the Eurasian landmass between 1500 and 1800. As a historiographical project, the book challenges the received---and often very much under conceptualized---use of the term "antiquarian" in both European and Chinese contexts. Readers will not only learn more about the range of European and Chinese scholarship on the past---and especially the material past---but they will also be able to integrate some of the historiographical observations and corrections into new ways of conceiving of the history of historical scholarship in Europe since the Renaissance, and to reflect on the impact of these European terms on Chinese approaches to the Chinese past. This comparison is a two-way street, with the European tradition clarified by knowledge of Chinese practices, and Chinese approaches better understood when placed alongside the European ones.
Mountaineering and Nation Building in Germany and Austria, 1860-1939
Though the Alps may appear to be a peaceful place, the famed mountains once provided the backdrop for a political, environmental, and cultural battle as Germany and Austria struggled to modernize. Tait Keller examines the mountains' threefold role in transforming the two countries, as people sought respite in the mountains, transformed and shaped them according to their needs, and over time began to view them as national symbols and icons of individualism.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Alps were regarded as a place of solace from industrial development and the stresses of urban life. Soon, however, mountaineers, or the so-called apostles of the Alps, began carving the crags to suit their whims, altering the natural landscape with trails and lodges, and seeking to modernize and nationalize the high frontier. Disagreements over the meaning of modernization opened the mountains to competing agendas and hostile ambitions. Keller examines the ways in which these opposing approaches corresponded to the political battles, social conflicts, culture wars, and environmental crusades that shaped modern Germany and Austria, placing the Alpine borderlands at the heart of the German question of nationhood.
On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years, the Berlin Wall served as an ever-present and seemingly permanent physical and psychological divider in this capital city, and between East and West during the Cold War. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the built environment. In Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin, Emily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in East and West Berlin during the “Wall era,” to reveal the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage in West Germany and the East German Building Academy in conveying the preferred political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of architectural works prior to the Wall era, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and also considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War. Pugh examines representations of architectural works in exhibits, film, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other media, and discusses the effectiveness of planners’ attempts to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the public. Ideas of home, belonging, community, and nationalism were common underlying themes on both sides of the wall, and instrumental to the construction of cultural and physical landscapes. Overall, Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised at the precipice between the world’s most dominant political and ideological forces, and the effort expended by each side to sway the tide of public opinion through the built environment.