In this new series, “What is Global History at Fordham,” we will hear from members of Fordham’s Global History consortium on what global history means to them and how it shapes their work.
Today, we begin with Professor Asif Siddiqi.
“As a historian of science and technology, global history is neither world history nor is there one single version of it. Instead, my research is focused on highlighting the many globally connected histories of science and technology. Instead of looking at (for example), German science or a Japanese nuclear reactor or a Russian satellite, our approach would consider larger concepts such as mobility or waste or infrastructure and reconstruct their global manifestations and changes across time and space. Our teaching will give you the tools to investigate, research and write your own version of a globally connected history.”
You can follow Prof. Asif Siddiqi on Twitter @historyasif
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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/
On November 7, 2017, Fordham students gathered for the second annual women’s liberation teach-in at Rodrigue’s Coffee House, on the Rose Hill campus. Part of Professor Kirsten Swinth’s Modern U.S. Women’s History, students in the teach-in emulated women’s liberation groups of the 1960s and 1970s. The teach-in is a valuable tool Dr. Swinth has used to move students from the pages of their textbooks into the lived experience of the subjects they study. Here’s what some of the students had to say about that experience. Continue reading →
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History major Katherine DeFonzo in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
Earlier this summer, History major Katherine DeFonzo reached out to faculty member Christopher Dietrich about the work she was doing at her internship at the Archives Center at the American Museum of National History (a part of the Smithsonian Institution). Katherine wrote: Continue reading →
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The Bronx African American History Project will be hosting a town hall meeting on Race and Public Education in NYC, Tuesday, February 21st at Walsh Library, Fordham University. The event will begin at 7pm in the Flom Auditorium with a food and drink reception to follow.
The oldest known US electoral map, of the 1880 presidential election. Source: LA Times/Library of Congress
Join us on Monday, November 21 at 11:30 in the Keating 1st auditorium for a panel of Fordham historians discussing the 2016 Presidential election in historical perspective. Participants will include: Salv Acosta, Kirsten Swinth, Christopher Dietrich and Magda Teter
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A Reflection on the 2016 Presidential Election from W. David Myers, Chair of History at Fordham University.
So it is Election Day, 8 November—Fordham and the history department are closed, and the department chair is in El Paso, Texas, to watch the scene and celebrate his mother’s 98th birthday—more on that later. For now, while everyone votes, watches, and waits, it is a good moment to note that members of the Fordham history department have been and are involved in this election, both practically and intellectually. Nick Paul and family went to Pennsylvania in October to register voters. Recently, Kirsten Swinth gave a scintillating lecture and program on the history of sexual harassment in America—not just the fact of harassment, which sadly seems not about to end, but the reaction to it and attempts to define, control, and eliminate it. The tale that emerged from Kirsten’s discussion was a century-old set of disparate campaigns with different angles and motives leading to today’s intense efforts. It’s a messy history, but what Kirsten’s presentation demonstrated is that the fight isn’t new, and sexual harassment isn’t a distraction from more important issues this election year—it IS an important contemporary political matter, one that this ugliest of campaigns has brought to the forefront.
Others have been just as active—Saul Cornell’s tireless efforts politically and academically on the Second Amendment have taken him from Cambridge, England, to Palo Alto California. For me, though, one of the most enlightening moments from my colleagues was Sal Acosta’s discussion last February of voter restriction efforts in states with a long history of discrimination against African Americans—this time targeting a rising Latino population and using the same language of fear and criminality that disfranchised the black population. As I watch from El Paso, surrounded by my Latino friends and relatives, I note that those same states in the southeast and southwest are witnessing a surge in voting from a determined Latino population infected with the “audacity of hope,” as President Obama has described it. Sal Acosta has proven to be an astute observer and analyst of American politics.
And then there is a personal note–Catherine, my mother, about to celebrate her 98th birthday. While presenting her with a rosary chosen by my students on the Camino de Santiago last June, I was struck by a number—1918. That was the year of her birth during a devastating worldwide influenza epidemic and at the very end of World War I. Focus on the year–in 1918, women could not vote, nor could they fight for their country. In 1918, patriotic African Americans could not fight alongside their white comrades in the U.S. Army. In 1918, African Americans could not play in the major leagues. And in 1918, the Chicago Cubs had already been without a World Series victory for a decade . . .
So as I celebrate my courageous mother with my equally courageous (and Hillary-deranged sisters, I must add!), I realize that in the last decade, she has proudly voted for and seen an African American man become the President of the United States. She has seen gay marriage legalized and thus been able to greet and welcome her granddaughter’s spouse. Last Tuesday she voted for a woman to become the President of the United States. And on Wednesday, the Cubs took the series—with an African American leadoff hitter.
In all of these events, the “arc of history” didn’t necessarily bend gradually toward justice in some inevitable way. None of this seemed likely just a decade ago, at least not for the near term. But human beings seized the opportunities presented to them by accident, or disaster, or just dumb luck. The audacity of hope is the element that disrupts our theoretical and scientific thinking and we frequently overlook it. But our best moments as people, and as a people, must surely depend on it. That is one lesson for history and historians today.
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