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the work of history

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    Okay, I’m going to be taking like a three-day hiatus because I’ve been a lazy procrastinator this past week and I reeeeeeallly (really really) desperately need to get these apps done. Bye guys! Wish me luck.


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    December 31, 1600: The British East India Company is chartered.

    Originally named Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies, the British East India Company was a flourishing British join-stock company that aimed to trade with the East Indies. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, the original intention of the company was not to solely promote trade with Asia, but to obviate a Dutch monopoly on Eurasian trade routes. However, after a massacre on Ambon Island in 1623, the British focused their efforts on claiming the route to India. A problem rose in the 17th century when independent “interlopers” challenged the monopoly of the British East India Company. While a deregulating act quickly solved the problem of the “interlopers,” another gargantuan company (named the English Company Trading to the East Indies) began to challenge the British East India Company, resulting in a merger in 1708. From then on out, the British East India retained its power as the chief trading company from Britain to India. (The united company became United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies)

    India quickly became caught up in the foreign trading companies as the cities of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta (now all renamed) became prominent and important trading centers that wielded much political power, intervening the political affairs of India. Britain also faced its bitter rival: the French East India Company. However, from onset of the 1750s, the Seven Years’ War showed unfavorable results for the French, which slowly but surely led to the financial instability of the French East India Company. This led Britain to grow with much power (due to the Industrial Revolution), burgeoning into a powerful empire that would soon assume complete dominance of the Indian peninsula during the period known as Raj starting in the mid 19th century.

    A few events leading up to Raj included the 1784 East India Act, showing the Mughal Empire’s rapid decline and more British intervention. Parliament’s Charter act of 1813 prolonged the Company’s rule in India and expanded to tea trade with China. It must be noted, however, This was shortly followed by the Government of India act in 1833, which created the Governor-General of India. As the epoch known as Raj slowly took over India in Britain’s imperialistic conquests, the British East India Company was no longer needed and, consequently, dissolved.

    (Thanks to my bro Leon for writing today’s post for me!)


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    A sailor and his girlfriend drink a toast to a new year, New York, 1941.


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    January 1, 1863: The Emancipation Proclamation is issued.

    …And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

    In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

    Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

    By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN 
    WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


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    One of the world’s first color photographs (taken in 1861) was of a tartan ribbon. 


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    January 2, 1492: Granada surrenders to Spanish forces, ending Muslim rule in Iberia.

    In the year 711, the first Muslim troops crossed from North Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar to Hispania, which they subsequently conquered over a seven-year campaign; the Umayyad drive north was ultimately halted at the Battle of Tours (Poitiers), but Muslim control over the Iberian Peninsula, formerly ruled by a Christian Visigothic kingdom, was complete. Yet even as the foundations of the state of Al-Andalus were being laid, the Reconquista had already begun - in 722, a Visigothic nobleman defeated defeated Umayyad forces at the battle of Covadonga, ensuring the survival of a small Visigothic entity in the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula: the Kingdom of Asturias. 

    The Reconquista, according to traditional dates, lasted around seven centuries, and it was marked by shifting alliances and much in-fighting between Christian leaders. The 1212 Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa saw the defeat of the Almohad Caliphate at the hands of an alliance between Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Portugal; the battle marked a major turning point in the Reconquista, and in the following decades Muslim-controlled territories fell into the hands of this allied force one by one, until only Granada and a handful of other cities were left to be retaken. After a yearlong siege, Muhammad XII surrendered the city of Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella, monarchs of Aragon and Castile, respectively (and future joint monarchs of a unified Spain). 

    Other links: On the subsequent Spanish Inquisition; on the Alhambra, the Muslim fortress complex in Granada


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    January 3, 1892: J.R.R. Tolkien is born.

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost…


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    January 3, 1905: Anna May Wong is born.

    Anna May Wong, who was born in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents, is considered the first Chinese-American movie star. Along with the Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa, Wong was one of the first Asian-American actors to achieve international fame, although, like Hayakawa, her race limited the different roles she could play on screen. Off-screen, she was considered a fashion and beauty icon, but on it, she was either the “Dragon Lady” or the demure Chinese butterfly. In 1922 Wong starred in Hollywood’s first color feature, The Toll of the Sea. At 19, she was cast in Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Baghdad (1924) - in a stereotypical “Dragon Lady” role, but a significant role nonetheless. It was this film that introduced her to the public. Also like Hayakawa, Wong fled (in 1928) to Europe, frustrated with Hollywood’s limited role opportunities and the American film industry’s tendency to cast non-Asians in Asian roles over eager Asian actors. 

    In Europe, Wong starred in a number of successful films, and European critics (according to The New York Times), regarded her “not only as an actress of transcendent talent but as a great beauty”, especially praising her performance in the British film Piccadilly (1928), considered one of her best. In Germany, she befriended director Leni Riefenstahl (who would go on to direct The Triumph of the Will) and the actress Marlene Dietrich. Wong returned to the United States in 1930 and accepted yet another yellow peril-type role in Daughter of the Dragon (1931), the only film in which she appeared alongside Sessue Hayakawa; in 1933 she spoke out against Hollywood’s relentlessly negative portrayal of Chinese-Americans in its films:

    Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain – murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?

    Wong’s continued on-screen portrayal of unsympathetic Asian characters led to her rejection by the Chinese government and press, who regarded her a “disgrace to the Chinese race”.  Unfortunately, one of the greatest disappointments of Wong’s career came in the form of a production that did portray its Chinese characters sympathetically - a film adaptation of the Pearl S. Buck novel The Good Earth. Wong was considered the perfect fit for the role of O-Lan, a Chinese peasant and the novel’s main female character, and Buck herself had intended any movie adaptation of her novel to feature an all-Asian cast. In the end, it was decided that such a cast would shock and possibly repel American audiences, and Paul Muni, an Austrian actor, was cast in the male lead role. Because of the anti-miscegenation restrictions of the time, the studio did not consider Wong for O-Lan because her on-screen husband would be played by a white actor, and the role went instead to Luise Rainer, a German-born actress who eventually received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Meanwhile, Wong was offered a separate role in the film, which she refused, stating, “You’re asking me - with Chinese blood - to do the only unsympathetic role in the picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters”. 


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    Swan Lake, Op. 20 (Complete) - Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, 1969


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    Lamia (Λάμια), in Greek mythology, was a queen of Libya who, after the death of her children, become a child-eating dæmon, a kind of spirit neither mortal nor god. Her name, claimed Aristophanes, was derived from laimos - gullet - in reference to her dietary practices. In some versions of her legend, she fell in love with Zeus, whose jealous wife Hera murdered her children and transformed her into a snake-like monster (when she is depicted in art, she is often wrapped in some kind of snakeskin, as seen above); consumed by grief, Lamia assuaged her own pain at the loss of her children by stealing the children of other women and consuming them. Like Lilith, who also served as an inspiration for Pre-Raphaelite artists, Lamia was used by mothers as a kind of bogeyman figure to scare children into obedience. According to some versions of her legend, she could not close her eyes and the image of her dead children constantly haunted her as long as her eyes remained open, until Zeus took pity on her and granted her the ability to remove her eyes. 

    In a Roman account of the Lamia myth (found in Flavius Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana), she is described as a kind of vampire who, instead of eating children, seduced and “devoured good-looking young men”. This version referred not to one individual Lamia but a kind of species of succubi, a depiction that inspired John Keats in writing his own Lamia tale - a narrative poem that described her appearance in rich detail:

    She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue, 
    Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
    Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
    Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
    And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
    Dissolv’d or brighter shone, or interwreathed
    Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries.


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    January 5, 1895: Alfred Dreyfus is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment.

    Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer who, in October of 1894, was arrested for treason, accused of passing military secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was a native of Alsace and more importantly, of Jewish background, a factor that probably contributed (or led) to his arrest and conviction based on flimsy evidence. The army stripped Dreyfus of his rank upon his conviction, and he was shipped to Devil’s Island, a penal colony/labor camp located off the coast of French Guiana; this was where Dreyfus would have spent the rest of his life had his guilty verdict remained intact, which seemed likely, as few people aside from his own family members were willing to stand up for him.

    Dreyfus spent 1,517 days on the island and wrote several letters to the French president pleading that he search for the “true guilty party, the author of this abominable crime”, unaware that a political scandal bearing his name was brewing thousands of miles away in France. Evidence that the French army had wrongfully punished Dreyfus and then attempted to cover up its mistake set off the “Dreyfus affair”. In early 1898 Émile Zola’s famous open letter to the president, “J’accuse”, ran in a newspaper run by future Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (another Dreyfus supporter):

     The evidence of Dreyfus’s character, his affluence, the lack of motive and his continued affirmation of innocence combine to show that he is the victim of the lurid imagination of Major du Paty de Clam, the religious circles surrounding him, and the “dirty Jew” obsession that is the scourge of our time… (the full article)

    The Dreyfus affair divided the nation into two main camps. On one side lay the anti-Dreyfus camp, composed mainly of anti-semites, nationalists, certain religious leaders, and on the other, the pro-Dreyfus faction (called “Dreyfusards”), which included men like Zola (and other intellectuals and artists), republicans, socialists, and advocates of religious freedom. The latter group eventually triumphed. In 1899 Dreyfus was tried  again and sentenced to ten years imprisonment this time, but in 1906 he was officially exonerated and reinstated to the army with a promotion to major. The Dreyfus affair and the anti-semitism exposed (and refuted) by it was one of the events that inspired the formation of the modern Zionist movement. 


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    ragingbitchfest:

    unhistorical:

    January 5, 1895: Alfred Dreyfus is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment.

    Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer who, in October of 1894, was arrested for treason, accused of passing military secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was a native of Alsace and more importantly, of Jewish background, a factor that probably contributed (or led) to his arrest and conviction based on flimsy evidence. The army stripped Dreyfus of his rank upon his conviction, and he was shipped to Devil’s Island, a penal colony/labor camp located off the coast of French Guiana; this was where Dreyfus would have spent the rest of his life had his guilty verdict remained intact, which seemed likely, as few people aside from his own family members were willing to stand up for him.

    Dreyfus spent 1,517 days on the island and wrote several letters to the French president pleading that he search for the “true guilty party, the author of this abominable crime”, unaware that a political scandal bearing his name was brewing thousands of miles away in France. Evidence that the French army had wrongfully punished Dreyfus and then attempted to cover up its mistake set off the “Dreyfus affair”. In early 1898 Émile Zola’s famous open letter to the president, “J’accuse”, ran in a newspaper run by future Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (another Dreyfus supporter):

     The evidence of Dreyfus’s character, his affluence, the lack of motive and his continued affirmation of innocence combine to show that he is the victim of the lurid imagination of Major du Paty de Clam, the religious circles surrounding him, and the “dirty Jew” obsession that is the scourge of our time… (the full article)

    The Dreyfus affair divided the nation into two main camps. On one side lay the anti-Dreyfus camp, composed mainly of anti-semites, nationalists, certain religious leaders, and on the other, the pro-Dreyfus faction (called “Dreyfusards”), which included men like Zola (and other intellectuals and artists), republicans, socialists, and advocates of religious freedom. The latter group eventually triumphed. In 1899 Dreyfus was tried  again and sentenced to ten years imprisonment this time, but in 1906 he was officially exonerated and reinstated to the army with a promotion to major. The Dreyfus affair and the anti-semitism exposed (and refuted) by it was one of the events that inspired the formation of the modern Zionist movement. 

    LITTLE KNOWN FACT: This actually divided the French art community. Monet, Pissaro, Cassatt, etc were on the side of Dreyfus. 

    Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and some others? TOTALLY ANTI-SEMITIC ASSHOLES. Renoir, who painted sappy, wishy-washy paintings of pretty girls said some pretty horrible things about Jews, and Degas, with his fucking ballerinas actually ended his friendship with Pissaro after the affair because he was a Jew.

    Monet’s always been my favorite artist, so I’m glad at least that he was on the right side of this bullshit.


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    image

    I have no idea how this relates to history at all, but…

    I think there’s a difference between what people call the “idiot nerd girl” and girls who enjoy “nerdy” things. If you get annoyed at the former (people who make “geek culture” a fashion statement), that’s understandable, but it’s not your job to decide who’s an “idiot nerd girl” and who’s a “real nerd”. This meme is harmful because it demands that girls and specifically girls prove that they’re not “idiot nerds”. Because they’re girls. You know why I think that is?

    In our culture, anything that has widespread popularity among teenage girls turns to poison, because teenage girls are stupid and tasteless, or something. The backlash fandom against Justin Bieber and Twilight are bigger than the actual fandoms themselves. Geek/nerd culture is popular with teenage girls now. Geek/nerd culture is now tainted. But wait, “real nerds” don’t want to give it up completely, so they invent a separate label, a kind of carpet under which they can shove teenage girls, and that is the “idiot nerd girl”. If a girl wants to join the “real nerd” club, she has to prove herself first, and if she can’t, she’s an idiot. 

    More often than not, girls who get stuck with this label are people who don’t know as much about video games or comic books or movies, or even worse, they’re assumed not to know as much because they’re girls or because they were introduced to these things through modern adaptations. I personally know plenty of boys who fit the “idiot nerd girl” stereotype remarkably well, but there is no “idiot nerd boy” meme. I wonder why? What’s better is that I know so many boys who wear jerseys and letterman jackets but play no sports at all, but there’s no “idiot athlete boy” meme, either. I also can’t ignore the unfortunate reality that many of the people who use this label are in fact themselves women, and hey, I admit to thinking this way sometimes as well, but this kind of elitism doesn’t help anyone. What use is it looking down on other women for not knowing as much as you do when 1) you did not emerge from the womb knowing everything about the Avengers and 2) you are part of the group that is negatively affected by this term. 

    I know that a lot of the people who use the meme/term don’t intend it as an umbrella label for all girls who enjoy “nerdy” things, but that’s, sadly, how it comes off as. As a girl and a teenager and a nerd, I don’t like it; I don’t like being scrutinized because I’m a girl and I don’t like being accused of “appropriating” nerd culture for fashion purposes. So what if someone does wear “nerd clothes”? I still know individuals who get annoyed when people who “aren’t grunge enough” wear Chuck Taylors - that’s as stupid as this to me. It’s like, how dare you wear nerd glasses? Are you a Buddy Holly fan? An Arthur Weasley fan? A Barry Goldwater libertarian? Sorry, but horn-rimmed glasses don’t belong to geek culture - and just because someone wears them and claims to be a nerd doesn’t mean you get to call them out as an “idiot nerd girl”. I’m sure the term is helpful in expressing annoyance and releasing frustration at these girls, but in the end it’s so much more harmful than beneficial. 

    And maybe you know someone out there who fits the stereotype, some girl who writes “nerd” on her hand and wears “nerd glasses” but seems to know nothing about anything remotely “nerdy”. Maybe you should talk to her about her interests, and if she simply doesn’t know as much as you do, don’t be condescending - all of us, including the “real nerds”, were clueless at some point in our lives. She’s not an “idiot nerd girl”, and people who feel marginalized by these terms are not “oversensitive feminazis”. 

    Anyway, those are my personal thoughts on the matter. 


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    could you repost this as text? i would love to reblog your answer

    It actually is a text post already; I didn’t know how to do a “read more” for asks, so I just copy-pasted it.


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  • 01/06/13--08:00: Photo





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    Of BBC’s history documentaries I’ve watched Egypt (2005) which was good but should probably be renamed The European Discovery of Egypt since its focus was on Howard Carter, Giovanni Belzoni, and Jean-Francois Champollion rather than the Egyptians themselves. I’ve also got A History of Britain saved to my computer but I haven’t watched it yet.

    I’m not sure if “History Channel-style documentary” is even a positive descriptor anymore since they barely air documentaries nowadays and most of their shows are aliens/doomsday/Pawn Stars-type things, but there is Russia: Land of the Tsars, which I enjoyed and a lot of people seem to like, and many of their older documentaries are good, but I can’t specifically name any. Maybe you should try PBS.

    Anyone have any suggestions?


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    I can’t help at all in this area, unfortunately, but I feel like this is a universal problem.

    (/subtly directs question toward followers)

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    January 7, 1891: Zora Neale Hurston is born.

    Zora Neale Hurston was one of the principal figures of the Harlem Renaissance. She was born to a Baptist preacher and a schoolteacher in Notasulga, Alabama, although she moved at age three to Eatonville, Florida, an all-black town that was formed shortly after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Hurston studied at Howard University and later Barnard College, Columbia University, where she worked alongside Margaret Mead before earning a degree in anthropology. She arrived in New York City in 1925, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, which was not only a “flowering of Negro literature” but also a flowering of African-American culture in general, which emerged distinct from white American culture and from white stereotypes of African-Americans. Harlem was not the only place this cultural explosion occurred, but it certainly was the center, and throughout this period black intellectuals, artists, musicians, and soul-searchers flocked to this formerly white-dominated district.

    The Harlem Renaissance was not dominated by one opinion or view, and Hurston and her background brought to the diverse movement a rural, southern element. Hurston wrote in her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road that “there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you”, and many of her stories dealt with the struggles of black women or black communities in the South; in writing them she probably drew upon her own life experiences. She is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which celebrated southern African-American culture and was rejected and/or criticized by other leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, among them Richard Wright, who wrote that the novel’s characters “swing like a pendulum eternally in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears.” Hurston drew upon her anthropology background to study and accurately depict the dialect of southern blacks, which was interpreted by some as her appealing to (in Wright’s words again) ”a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy.”

    She and her works faded into obscurity in the decades following her death, but interest in her works revived after Alice Walker published an article called “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston”, which introduced her to a new generation of authors. Among those influenced by Hurston include Alice Walker herself, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison. 


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    January 8, 1918: Woodrow Wilson issues his “Fourteen Points”.

    Ten months before the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson delivered to a joint session of Congress a speech in which he detailed specific points that would provide for a secure and long-lasting peace and not a rebalancing of power that had been the go-to solution for so many past wars. In September of 1917, Wilson set up “the Inquiry”, a group of 150 men that included historians, librarians, professors, geographers, lawyers, and other academics whose research helped the president prepare his plans for this idealistic peace plan. Their research formed the basis of the Fourteen Points, which can be paraphrased as:

    1. No secret alliances or agreements between nations.
    2. Freedom of the seas during both wartime and peacetime.
    3. Lowered or removed economic barriers between nations, which would ideally result in an “equality of trade… among all nations”. 
    4. A reduction in “national armaments”.
    5. An “absolutely impartial” adjustment of colonial claims to suit the interests of both the colonial powers and colonized populations.
    6. The evacuation of Russian territory, and treatment of Russia by foreign nations demonstrative of “their good will… their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.”
    7. The evacuation of Belgian territories.
    8. The evacuation of French territories and the restoration to France the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, which had been lost to Prussia in the settlement of the Franco-Prussian War.
    9. “
    The readjustment of Italian boundaries along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.” 
    10. Autonomy for the various people of Austria-Hungary.
    11. The evacuation of the Balkans and free access to the sea for Serbia, and guaranteed “political and economic independence and territorial integrity” for these states.
    12. Free passage for all nations through the Dardanelles, and protection for non-Turkish people living under Turkish rule.
    13. Independence and access to the sea for Poland.
    14. The formation of a league of nations “for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

    Reception was mixed. Georges Clemenceau declared, upon hearing of Wilson’s speech (which had been delivered without prior consultation with the United States’ allies) and his “Fourteen Points” that “The good Lord only had ten!” But his points were eventually incorporated into the 1918 armistice that ended the war, because his speech was really the only specific statement of war aims officially issued by leaders on either side. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the next year for his efforts. But at the Paris Peace Conference that same year, President Wilson was outmaneuvered, to Germany’s dismay, by his European allies, who demanded that Germany be punished and held responsible for the war and regarded this aim as a higher priority than an American president’s idealistic plans for world peace. Although Wilson arrived at the conference with great purpose, John Maynard Keynes noted that the president was “ill-informed”, “slow and unadaptable”, and “incompetent”. His League of Nations was formed as a result of the conference, but the United States never joined, and it proved useless in preventing the series of aggressions that led to World War II. By then, Wilson’s points and lasting peace were far-off dreams. 


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