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an Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history
For several years, the armies of Napoleon III deployed some 450 Muslim Sudanese slave soldiers in Veracruz, the port of Mexico City. As in the other case of Western hemisphere military slavery (the West India Regiments, a British unit in existence 1795-1815), the Sudanese were imported from Africa in the hopes that they would better survive the tropical diseases that so terribly afflicted European soldiers. In both cases, the Africans did indeed fulfill these expectations. The mixture of cultures embodied by this event has piqued the interest of several historians, so it is by no means unknown. Hill and Hogg provide a particularly thorough, if unimaginative, account of this exotic interlude, explaining its background, looking in detail at the battle record in Mexico, and figuring out who exactly made up the battalion. Much in their account is odd and interesting, for example, the Sudanese superiority to Austrian troops and their festive nine-day spree in Paris on the emperor's tab. The authors also assess the episode's longer-term impact on the Sudan, showing that the veterans of Mexico, having learnt much from their extended exposure to French military practices, rose quickly in the ranks, then taught these methods to others.
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Andrew J. Blackbird and the Odawa People
For much of U.S. history, the story of native people has been written by historians and anthropologists relying on the often biased accounts of European-American observers. Though we have become well acquainted with war chiefs like Pontiac and Crazy Horse, it has been at the expense of better knowing civic-minded intellectuals like Andrew J. Blackbird, who sought in 1887 to give a voice to his people through his landmark book History of the Ottawa and Chippewa People. Blackbird chronicled the numerous ways in which these Great Lakes people fought to retain their land and culture, first with military resistance and later by claiming the tools of citizenship. This stirring account reflects on the lived experience of the Odawa people and the work of one of their greatest advocates.
Reflections from the Frontlines of Collaborative Research
Perspectives from Ecological Economics
The first decade of the twenty-first century has been characterized by a growing global awareness of the tremendous strains that human economic activity place on natural resources and the environment. As the world’s population increases, so does the demand for energy, food, and other resources, which adds to existing stresses on ecosystems, with potentially disastrous consequences. Humanity is at a crossroads in our pathway to future prosperity, and our next steps will impact our long-term sustainability immensely. In this timely volume, leading ecological economics scholars offer a variety of perspectives on building a green economy. Grounded in a critique of conventional thinking about unrestrained economic expansion and the costs of environmental degradation, this book presents a roadmap for an economy that prioritizes human welfare over consumerism and growth. As the authors represented here demonstrate, the objective of ecological economics is to address contemporary problems and achieve long-term socioeconomic well-being without undermining the capacity of the ecosphere. The volume is organized around three sections: “Perspectives on a Green Economy,” “Historical and Theoretical Perspectives,” and “Applications and Practice.” A rich resource in its own right, Building a Green Economy contains the most innovative thinking in ecological economics at a critical time in the reexamination of the human relationship with the natural world.
Readings in René Girard's Theory of Violence and the Sacred
The Canals of Mars is a memoir that explores and ponders "weakness," which in Gary Fincke's family was the catch-all term for every possible human flaw-physical, psychological, or spiritual. Fincke grew up near Pittsburgh during the 1950s and 1960s, raised by blue-collar parents for whom the problems that beset people-from alcoholism to nearsightedness to asthma to fear of heights-were nothing but weaknesses.
In a highly engaging style, Fincke meditates on the disappointments he suffered-in his body, his mind, his work-because he was convinced that he had to be "perfect." Anything less than perfection was weakness and no one, he understood from an early age, wants to be weak.
Six of the chapters in the book have been cited in Best American Essays. The chapter that provides the book's title, The Canals of Mars, won a Pushcart Prize and was included in The Pushcart Book of Essays: The Best Essays from a Quarter Century of the Pushcart Prize.
Africa's best-kept secret
Cassava is Africa's "poverty fighter" and second most important food crop. This book discusses Cassava's real role and traces research over the past 65 years. The "Cassava transformation" that is now underway in Africa has changed this traditional, reserve crop to a high-yield cash crop. However, Cassava is being neglected by governments and donor agencies because of myths and half-truths about its nutritional value and role in farm systems.
Understanding the World through Stories