It is titled Statemaking and Territory in South Asia: Lessons from the Anglo-Gorkha War (1814-1816). Congratulations on this monumental achievement!
Archive for the ‘Bernardo Michael’ Category
I have provided below my complete blog written during the Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights Tour I went on between June 11-19, 2011. I was accompanied on this tour by 4 colleagues from Messiah. Their own blogs can be found at http://blogs.messiah.edu/2011_civil_rights_tour/
So here goes…
DAY ONE ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS TOUR, 12 June 2011
We left for Beaver Falls after an overnight stay at the Chapel Valley Estate bed and breakfast in New Oldfield. The Bus left at 6.00am with a group of nearly 30 persons and headed out to Greensboro, South Carolina. Dr. Todd Allen of Geneva College has been leading this group for 10 years (http://www.geneva.edu/object/faculty_todd_allen). The nearly eight hour journey was punctuated by a documentary on the music of the Civil Rights movement showcasing songs like “wade in the water,” “which side are you on,” and “we shall overcome.” Another documentary charted the course of the civil rights sit-ins at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University at Greensboro. Both videos revealed the broad popular base of the Civil Rights movement and how spontaneous acts of everyday resistance triggered wider movements across the country. The sit-ins by 4 North Carolina A&T University’s freshmen in 1960 at Woolworth’s store broke the practice of segregation at food establishments and sparked off similar protests across the south. Today that Woolworth’s store is the site of the recently built International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro (http://www.sitinmovement.org/). It has a fascinating collection of artifacts representing various aspects of the African American experience under segregation, the struggle for civil rights, and recognition of civil rights movements around the world. It was sobering to get a brief glimpse into the struggles of various racial groups in the United States, the contradictions between the ideals and the lived realities of everyday life for African Americans, Native Americans, and women.
Perhaps, traveling on a civil rights tour is in many ways a pilgrimage—to visit the past of the United States, discern it promise, its brokenness, and hopes for the future. As the 21st century advances and the living record embodied in the participants of the Civil Rights movement dwindle in number all we will have left are memories enshrined in our minds, in artifacts, and images. I suppose, that is what makes a popular movements like the Civil Rights so important and of continual relevance to human beings long after the participants have passed on. Perhaps it will become part of an unfolding global story of human struggle, endeavor, sacrifice, faith in action, and hope for a better future.
AN INSPIRATIONAL DAY IN ATLANTA, GA, 13 June 2011
Today we traveled to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta administered by the National Park Service. This site contains the Ebenezer Baptist Church (where King pastored), the MLK Jr. Visitor Center, and the King Center (where King and his wife Coretta Scott King are buried). King’s connection with India was strikingly revealed in the statue of Gandhi placed in an open plaza along with his notations in E. Stanley Jones Gandhi: An Interpretation. Jones was an American missionary who worked in India and whose writings on Gandhi inspired King. After a quick lunch at a local favorite called The Varsity (where orders are taken with gusto prefaced by a “What’ll ya have?”) we traveled to the University of Georgia where historian Dr. Glen Eskew gave us a succinct overview of the Civil Right Movement. The highlight of the day was a meeting with Juanita Abernathy wife of the late Rev. Ralph David Abernathy (1926-1990) a prominent Civil Rights activist and close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. Juanita Abernathy spoke eloquently with wit, and with a passion that was hard to resist. The courage, sacrifice and persistence she and many other like her displayed was what was inspirational. The courage of ordinary civil rights activists, in the face of impossible and unpredictable odds, and even death is something that is sobering and certainly needs to be remembered.
In the bus we heard a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr from a collection of his sermons titled Knock at Midnight. The sermon touched on many themes, including the “midnight” (King’s dark night??) that King saw pervading the social, psychological, and moral order. It is clear that his involvement in the civil rights movement did weigh on him, but he left his audience with three loaves—faith, hope, and love. A History Channel documentary called King gave us another glimpse of the life and work of King. Finally, a movie on the Rev. Vernon Johns (1892-1965)
gave a poignant insight of the daily grind of racism in the south, especially in Montgomery, Alabama that African-Americans endured, long after the Civil War had ended. John’s suggested long before Martin Luther King Jr and others, the possibility of a mass bus boycott to make a dent in the system of segregation in Alabama.
We ended the day in a hotel in Albany, GA and tomorrow we will move to Montgomery, AL.
I, along with 4 employees of Messiah College are currently on a Civil Rights pilgrimage. We are currently in Memphis TN. But in case you wish to check out our blog visit it at
hope the summer is proceeding well for all of you.
A Clash of Civilizations? Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Chinese-American mother and law professor at Yale, Amy Chua recently created a storm of controversy when she published her book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin, 2011). A memoir of her experiences raising her children in the United States generated a chorus of protest and support and legions on both side expressed their views on a host of blogs, social networking sites, TV programs, and interviews. Chua’s book reflects the tough, intense, hardworking, and tedious approach to child rearing usually associated with new immigrants. Amy Chua’s book and the response of its critics reflects an ongoing “clash of civilizations”—but within the heart of America. Chua’s writing has revealed another way of being in the world, of raising children, quietly intense emotional expressions of love tempered by discipline and high expectations, that have to mediate a culture of juridically & culturally sanctioned and celebrated individual independence (especially once the magical age of 18 is attained), a culture of low expectations at many schools, limited global competencies, and remarkably different cultural notions of honor, and respect for authority. The political correctness of the media and the child rearing expectations of America’s middle class clashed with other ways of being in the world—of being strict and loving at the same time and the grey and cloudy world inhabited by families caught in the midst of very different worlds, without any equivalent of a Kelly’s Blue book to provide a blueprint for cultural comparison. No doubt the reality is probably far more complex than this, and many immigrant and “native” will identify with Chua. However, she certainly deserves a more sympathetic hearing than she has received because all of us, are always, and all times, caught up in situations of painful cross cultural encounter—whether it be in our families, communities, or nation. Perhaps all of us have a battle hymn to sing; we just can’t seem to agree on how to sing it.
I just finished reading Ajantha Subramanian’s Shorelines: Space and Rights in South India (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009). An enjoyable read indeed. Subramanian who is the Morris Kahn Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Studies at Harvard University has produced a fascinating and thought provoking work on fisher communities, territoriality, and rights in Kanyakumari district in south India. Taking a processual approach (students will recall our Renato Rosaldo reading in Methods) she traces the complicated and highly intertwined ways in which fisher communities repeatedly interpreted, negotiated, and realigned their political relationships with other caste and fisher groups, institutions like the state and the Catholic church, and wider global forces. This created a rich palette of histories that can only be carefully pieced together through meticulous research. Subramanian engages in a number of theoretical conversations in an array of fields ranging from politics and environmental history to development and anthropology. This drama unfolds on a historical stage that straddles the colonial and postcolonial periods of the regions history. Last but not the least, her work injects fresh impetus to the writing of subcontinental subaltern histories, that are regional in their reach, connecting the dots between past history and contemporary politics, all the while turning a critical eye to received wisdom on a wide range of theoretical issues. More information on this book can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Shorelines-Space-Rights-South-India/dp/0804761469#_ If you are interested in learning more about interdisciplinary writing in the humanities do take a look at her work.
In July 2010 I traveled to the United Kingdom to spend 10 days at the British Library to work on the map collections of the English East India Company (1600-1858). The British Library is the state-of-the-art National Library of the United Kingdom and is located in the heart of London. The Library holds 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, and 3 million sound recordings. The building was the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century and is made up of 14 floors (9 above and 5 below) with a total area of over 112,000 square meters.
The map collection I worked on belonged to the India Office Records—the archival holdings of the East India Company (1600-1858)—pertaining to the survey and mapmaking activities of the Company in the nineteenth century. In particular I examined British maps of the Anglo-Nepal frontier and the Revenue Surveys, both from the nineteenth century. I also examined a number of indigenous Nepali maps lying in the Hodgson Collection (Mss Eur K474, volumes 56 & 59) collected by Brian Hodgson Houghton, the British Assistant Resident and later Resident in Kathmandu (1820-1844). Finally, I unexpectedly came across some old 17th century Dutch and Portuguese maps of port cities and the western coastline of south India which formed the historical stage for the activities of some branches of my family (I am trying to write a family history as well!). It was a nostalgic moment for me as I wondered about the encounters between these European seafarers and my ancestors who traded along the coast.
I stayed at the nearby Highbury Center (http://www.thehighburycentre.org/) which is a few minutes away on the London tube (or subway). Registering myself as a researcher was quick and painless, and very soon I was on my way to the India Office Reading room on the third floor. A typical work day at the Library would begin at 9.30 am and end at 8.00pm. Requisitioning documents is processed online, and so, to save time, I did most of it the night before from my hotel room (this meant that my work day would extend itself well into the night!!). The availability of wireless in the reading rooms was a new experience as it brought the resources of the internet into the reading room. I found myself navigating online bookstores, archives, and articles in a manner that directly informed the research process.
All in all, the time spent at the British Library was an intellectual feast. The luxurious atmosphere at the library (the state-of-the-art and tastefully decorated facilities, reading rooms, exhibitions, bookstore, coffee shop, and lounges) and the friendly staff added another dimension to the usual excitement of working in an archive. Chance encounters with old friends, and the food and conversations that followed were the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to get back to the British Library, and in the meantime if you are passing through the city of London, please visit the BL on my behalf! Or at least visit the BL online at http://www.bl.uk/
Colleagues and friends Jim LaGrand, professor of American history, and Bernardo Michael, associate professor of history, talk about Michael’s journey from his home country of India to Messiah College, a place that wasn’t even on his radar screen when he began looking for a teaching position after completing his doctorate. Listen to the interview here.