In The New Republic, Fordham Historian Prof. Saul Cornell argues that “Liberal legal scholars are at risk of falling into a right-wing trap.” Cornell continues to argue: “In the pending congressional impeachment inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with (among other things) taking up the question of what the constitutional process of impeachment means. To aid them in this solemn task, committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and his colleagues on Wednesday summoned an impressive list of constitutional scholars to offer authoritative interpretations of the Constitution’s impeachment clauses.”
He continues: “The present debate over Donald Trump’s impeachment has largely been framed in originalist terms. But for all of this doctrine’s supposed appeal as a settled form of legal interpretation, it would be prudent to recognize that originalism now comes in about as many flavors as the Ben and Jerry’s product line. The dominant model, for the moment, is what’s known as public meaning originalism. Champions of this approach contend that the goal of interpreting the Constitution is to identify what a competent and reasonably well-informed speaker of American English in 1788 would have thought the words of the text meant. For Republicans and many movement conservatives, public meaning originalism is the default mode of inquiry for virtually every constitutional question. The Federalist Society, the influential right-wing legal group that now effectively issues the union card for entry into right-wing politics and law, has made public meaning originalism its unofficial philosophy, arguing in essence that originalism is not simply the best, but is indeed the only legitimate mode of interpreting the Constitution.”
This is part of 2 of our new series, “What is Global History at Fordham?” Today, we hear from Professor Chris Dietrich, a member of Fordham’s Global History consortium, on what global history means to him and how it shapes his work.
“As a historian of U.S. foreign relations, the perspectives offered by a Global History methodology are invaluable to my research and writing on oil and decolonization. It is impossible to understand the major questions faced by U.S. leaders without understanding the different contexts from which those questions arose. In my own work, it has been fascinating to see how ideas and policies crossed traditional boundaries through international institutions like the Arab League, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the United Nations. Opportunities abound in New York City, which is a wonderful place to conduct this sort of work for all sorts of reasons, but especially because of the proximity of crucial archives for understanding the place of the United States in the world.”
You can follow Prof. Chris Dietrich on Twitter @CRWDietrich
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In the sixteenth century, Andean communities were forcibly removed from their villages by Spanish colonizers and resettled in planned, self-governed towns. Rather than conforming to Spanish cultural and political norms, indigenous Andeans adopted and gradually refashioned the institutions imposed on them, in the process producing a new kind of civil society that merged their traditional understanding of collective life with the Spanish notion of the común to demand participatory democracy. This hybrid concept of self-rule spurred the indigenous rebellions that erupted across Latin America against Spanish rulers and native hereditary nobility. Through the letters and documents of the Andean people themselves, The People Are King examines the community-based democracy that played a central role in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions and continues to galvanize indigenous movements in Bolivia today.
“Elizabeth Penry offers a sharply original account of the Andean Age of Rebellions, placing it in a culture of civic populism whose roots extended to both pre-conquest Peru and medieval Spain. Where previous narratives have gravitated toward charismatic leaders, The People are King breathes a democratic spirit that is both moving and persuasive.”—Jeremy Mumford, Brown University
“This meticulously researched and gracefully narrated look at the transformation over time of the public sphere in indigenous communities of highland Bolivia offers readers a remarkable window into how and why the Great Rebellion of the 1780s unfolded by focusing on communities instead of on the leadership. This is an unusual and exciting second look at the prelude to independence in Spanish America.”—Joanne Rappaport, Georgetown University
“Elizabeth Penry’s skillfully crafted study reconstructs the ways colonial Andean comunes or commons became grassroots laboratories where modern ideas of communal self-government and popular sovereignty gradually emerged. Inscribed in the best traditions of Andean history and ethnohistory, The People are King is a much-needed contribution to the intricate ways indigenous community politics helped establish the foundations of the modern world.”— José Carlos de la Puente, author of Andean Cosmopolitans: Seeking Justice and Reward at the Spanish Royal Court
The official website for BBC History Magazine interviewed our colleague, Prof. Nicholas Paul. Read Prof. Paul’s comments below:
Confronted with the message, propagated by both the European and Anglophone extreme right and Islamic jihadist groups, that we live in an age of renewed conflict between Islam and the west, many people may understandably conclude that we have inherited an ancient legacy of holy war. We have – though not in the way that many imagine.
The legacy of the crusades today is not due to the continuity over time of any medieval crusading institution. After all, the crusade indulgence offered by the church – a central element of the architecture of these holy wars – had effectively disappeared by the 17th century. Surviving crusading orders, such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, are now devoted to charitable work. And no modern state, whether in Spain, the Baltic or the eastern Mediterranean, can trace its origins to the ‘crusader states’ established by medieval conquests. Too much historical water – reformation, revolution, global exchange, the rise and fall of empires, the shock of modernity – has passed under the bridge for any modern community to still bear marks of crusading violence.
The legacy of the crusades is, nonetheless, powerful, primarily because of the passions and predilections of 19th- and 20th-century Europeans. They found in the crusades a useful past through which they sought to understand their own world of overseas empires, warring nations and rapid social change. These modern observers constructed a storehouse of popular images and stories – such as the epic encounter of Richard I and Saladin during the Third Crusade – and used them to make claims about morality and collective identity.
Western Europeans took these images and attitudes abroad – for example, in 1898, when Kaiser Wilhelm II re-enacted the conquest of Jerusalem and rebuilt Saladin’s tomb at Damascus, laying a gilt bronze wreath (later taken by TE Lawrence and now displayed in London’s Imperial War Museum). It was in this modern context that a new historical memory of the crusades was constructed – one that stripped away fundamental elements of crusading history and is easily co-opted by those who would make a ‘clash of civilisations’ seem habitual and inevitable.
Here is an excerpt of an article featuring our colleague, Prof. Daniel Soyer.
“In 1938, there were at least eight Berdichev societies in New York, said Daniel Soyer, a professor of history at Fordham University and the author of a book about Jewish immigration societies. Though Soyer said that none of these societies were religious, it was common practice for a landsmanshaft to sponsor the creation of a Torah on behalf of their hometown. That means the scroll could have belonged to a congregation that had no connection to Berdichev, but did have a connection to someone from there. Alternatively, it could have been the property of someone whose name was Berdichev, Soyer said.”
We are excited to announce just some of the fascinating activities members of the Fordham History Department have engaged in these last few weeks:
Prof. Rosemary Wakeman just edited and contributed an article to a special issue on “Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Culture” for the journal Built Heritage. The journal is published by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai. Her article on “Mid-Century Urban Avant-Gardes” compares Art Deco architecture in Shanghai and New York.
You can follow Prof. Chris Dietrich on Twitter @CRWDietrich
Prof. Amanda Armstrong-Price gave a fascinating presentation at NYU entitled “Strains of Permissiveness, Fields of Force: Governing Intimacies along the Railways of Colonial India.” The talk was hosted by The Postcolonial, Race, and Diaspora Studies Colloquium at NYU. You can find more details of Prof. Armstrong-Price’s talk here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2525672297648631/
In her new book, Kirsten Swinth, Ph.D., associate professor of history, examines misperceptions of American feminism’s past. From failed promises of women “having it all” to the contemporary struggle for equal wages for equal work, Swinth’s book exposes how government policies often undermined tenets of the movement known as “second-wave feminism,” which took place from 1960s through the 1970s.
The book, Feminism’s Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family (Harvard University Press, 2018), argues that second-wave feminists did not fail to deliver on their promises; rather, a conformist society pushed back against far-reaching changes sought by these activists. The book’s arc begins with the intimate sphere of the family in the 1950s and then moves on to larger societal changes where two-income families became the unavoidable economic norm.
“My focus is on the story of a broad feminist vision that wasn’t fully realized,” said Swinth. “There were a lot of gains generally, but the movement also generated an antifeminist backlash so that most of the aspirations, like a sane and sustainable balance for work and family, were defeated.” (Full article available at link below)