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Sonja D. Williams. Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom. New Black Studies Series. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015. Illustrations. 264 pp. $26.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-252-08139-2. Reviewed by Ida Jones (Morgan State University) Published on Jhistory (September, 2016) Commissioned by Robert A. Rabe The Revolution Will Be an Audiophile Early black radio broadcasts in the community were an essential staple of modern communication. Often the disc jockeys were local people with flair and appeal. These men and few women did their best to celebrate their heritage and hometown culture over the airwaves. The era of syndication muted local radio disc jockeys, as they were increasingly replaced by nationally known celebrity personalities. Initially, after the rise and domination of the black press, black radio provided common ground for intergenerational discourse, played our music, and/or served as a virtual platform for aspiring and established preachers, singers, and dramatists. Sonja D. Williams rightly situates the late Richard Durham within the tradition of black communication and black radio, reaching back to his antecedents who assumed the significant cultural role of the griot-educator-activist. Williams entered the world of Isadore Richard Durham in 1994 while working on a Smithsonian documentary radio project Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was. Here she encountered the recordings from Destination Freedom broadcasts. Williams writes that this “African American writer [Durham] created this series in 1948 and served as its sole scriptwriter. A master storyteller, [he] seductively conjured aural magic, inventively dramatizing the lives of black history makers” (p. xvii). Astounded that a full-length book about Durham and his crusade did not exist, Williams committed to articulating his life’s story and journey to the airwaves. Word Warrior is an apt telling of the life and times of Durham organized into twelve neat chapters with a prologue, epilogue, and appendix. The appendix is a detailed two-year radio log of Destination Freedom broadcasts. Williams informs the reader that forty-two original broadcasts are available online via the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection while others are available at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture. This information is a delight for a generation of scholars who never experienced the sounds of local black radio hosts. Each chapter opens with a unique writing by Durham, at times a poem or a radio transcript. This method places the reader within ear shot of an intriguing exchange between Durham and Williams. The second chapter provides a glimpse into the origins of an unusual African American family whose enslaved ancestors within one generation became landowners, of some eighty acres, in Mississippi. Their landed wealth propelled them into the northern migration ending in Chicago. Durham’s life is teased out of national and local issues in concert with the lives of his parents, siblings, future spouse, and notable personalities of the day. His life is woven throughout the rich tapestry of American history. Williams uses his own words to capture and situate remarkable moments in Durham’s life. He opens with Durham’s observation: “Somewhere in this ocean of Negro life, with its crosscurrents and undercurrents, lies the very soul of America.... It lies there because the real-life story of a single Negro in Alabama walking into a voting booth across a Ku Klux Klan line has more drama and world implications than all the stereotypes Hollywood or radio can turn out in a thousand years” (p. ix). These are more than mere words; Durham experienced this reality directly or vicariously through research. He intended to utilize those stories of success, survival, and overcoming as ammunition. In journalistic style, Word Warrior begins with the funeral of Durham on May 2, 1984. The description places the reader in the midst of a large, crowded, and diverse array of attendees. “Some ... came straight from work in their best business attire. Others dressed more casually, wearing light sweaters, jackets, and shawls in Chicago’s mild, near-sixty-degree weather.... City officials and congressmen, educators and social workers, labor leaders and artists, journalists and other writers were just a few of the hundreds who came to remember—and to say goodbye” (pp. 1, 2). A modicum of sadness radiated through the service because Durham had died expectedly of a heart attack. His widow Clarice Durham recruited friends and family to share their recollections about him. Their forty-two years of marriage welcomed children and a constellation of friends whose recollections stoked memories of good times, a great man, and a lasting legacy. The legacy of Isadore “Izzy” Richard Durham began on September 6, 1917, in Raymond in Hinds County, Mississippi, on eighty acres of farmland. He was the fifth of seven children born to Curtis George Durham and Chanie Tillman Durham, hardworking providers for their children. Curtis owned land and provided opportunities for two families as tenant farmers. Chanie was a school teacher in Hinds County’s Negro schoolhouse, produced soap, and styled hair to supplement the family income. Chanie’s thirst for education and Curtis’s two years at Alcorn University infused their children with an understanding that education was a needed companion to hard work and integrity. Mississippi became a poetic memory for Durham, when the family moved to Chicago when he was five years old. Durham poetically described Chicago as “a baked brick desert, with oases of parks, a necklace of streets” (p. 18). Chicago became the soil in which the seed of writer-broadcaster Richard nicknamed Izzy would be planted. Here he flourished and participated in a variety of activities, from amateur boxing to poetry to labor union organizing. Novelist Richard Wright influenced Durham, while Langston Hughes offered suggestions to Durham’s unsolicited poems. According to the text, “Durham welcomed Hughes’ advice. Building on this initial correspondence, the two men established a friendship that would last more than two decades. He liked the way I wrote, and the way I organized writing particularly” (p. 33). Hughes contributed to Durham’s selection of the pen name Richard Durham. Williams’s Word Warrior is an engrossing, at times poetic excavation of one man’s dealing with life and learning as an African American man. Durham answered the call to arms through the artistry of storytelling, advocacy, agency, and learning. He swirled those elements together throughout his inquisitive life. He shared his historical findings through his radio broadcast, Destination Freedom, as well as published short stories and poems. He pursued a variety of ghost writing jobs for money, despite the exhausting nature of his work. Inwardly, he harbored a private desire to write about Aesop, whom Durham believed was an African diplomat who moved between nations, making agreements by employing his extraordinary wit as method of getting his point across. In this sense, Durham was an heir of Aesop, an activist using the airwaves as his medium to broadcast the revolution while stirring the people to consciousness.
Rumors abounded in early America. Today it is difficult to comprehend how people communicated across the immensity of the American expanse hundreds of years ago. Travel was arduous, slow, and fraught with danger. Moving over mountain ranges, navigating vaguely marked trails, or crossing into territory ignorant to the disposition of the local inhabitants were all bewildering experiences. Verifying information was extremely difficult. Gregory Evans Dowd takes readers on a journey into the minds of early Americans as they struggled to separate fact from fiction across the great distances of the North American frontier. In Groundless, rumors take on lives of their own, misleading colonists, Indians, and even professional historians in telling ways. Groundless is ambitious in scope. Dowd bookends his pursuit of “bad evidence” in the purported gold fields of the North American Southeast (p. 14), opening with sixteenth-century Spaniards and concluding some three centuries later in Jacksonian America. Facts bear out that neither conquistadors nor Americans found much gold in the region. However, both events illustrate an important point: what people believed in their head often mattered more than what existed on the ground. Spanish rumors of gold gleaned from Indians spurred colonization efforts in the Southeast which produced the very real consequences of “invasion, sickness, and enslavement” for Native peoples (p. 37). Despite repeated failures to add substance to legend, mutterings of gold endured into 1830s, precipitating the state of Georgia’s infamous destruction and removal of the Cherokee nation. Dowd chases false whispers up the Appalachian Mountain range to the Carolinas, eastern Pennsylvania, Canada, and westward to upper Michigan, all the while recording echoes reverberating far from the frontier in London, New York, and Philadelphia. Chapters are divided into two forms of the bogus: “longitudinal stories and singular episodes” (p. 278). Longitudinal stories are legends that persist through time, such as gold in the Georgia upcountry or blankets infested with smallpox. Both legends were based in kernels of truth but long outlived those original events and were consistently embellished over time. In contrast, singular episodes occur in highly local, time-specific moments, such as seeking out the identity of a murderer or determining whether frontier neighbors were about to attack. Although Groundless progresses thematically and chronologically, it darts across the North American continent covering events of varying historical and regional contexts. Such structure eludes a clear narrative arc and may prove baffling for those unfamiliar with early American historiography. That being said, Groundless bears tremendous insight on the “widely shared beliefs and understandings” of early Americans (p. 14). Dowd rightly points out that professional historians usually dismiss unreliable information in pursuit of what actually happened. Such an approach overlooks the context in which people lived, where rumor “commanded as much attention in early America as did crops, weather, and shipping news” (p. 2). Grounding his analysis in twentieth-century sociological scholarship, Dowd frames the act of rumor mongering as an attempt to seek out the truth or to make sense of the world. Focusing on rumors instead of dismissing them offers a glimpse into the hopes, fears, and prejudices of early Americans, providing important cultural context for their actions. It is this ingenious methodological approach that future historians should heed. In the process of mining bad information, Dowd uncovers some surprising revelations about colonial North America. The persistence of particular rumors collapses chronologies many scholars are familiar with. For example, Cherokees and Creeks still feared the prospect of enslavement and deportation well past the Seven Years’ War, fifty years after the Indian slave trade ended in the Southeast. Whispers among Cherokees in 1751 of impending betrayal by their South Carolina allies, although unfounded, reveals that memory of the slave trade weighed heavily on their minds and contributed to a legacy of diplomatic tension throughout the eighteenth century. On the other side of the frontier, patterns of rumor surrounding war show that colonists feared or suspected the intervention of rival imperial powers more than Indian attack or slave rebellion. Dowd then identifies historians who have assumed that Indians and slaves shared some “ideological solidarity” against colonists in the eighteenth century (p. 151). Such an alliance between Indians and slaves cannot be found in the sources or the rumors of otherwise anxious colonists. That contemporary historians would conclude that Indians and slaves posed a great threat “says more about our world” today “than it does about theirs” (p. 163). In this and other instances, Dowd skillfully demonstrates that by listening to rumor, historians can gain valuable perspective into the worldviews of historical subjects, and in the process, they can check twenty-first-century assumptions when they attempt to recreate those worlds. Dowd casts a wide net in his survey of three centuries of North American rumor. Consequently, it is often difficult for the reader to discern a consistent narrative angle in Groundless. Additionally, little attention is paid to the varied and contested communication networks of early America, which Matt Cohen, Katherine Grandjean, and recently Alejandra Dubcovsky have shown to be so important. More attention to the geography, routes, and messengers through which faulty news passed would undoubtedly have provided valuable context for many of the rumors traced in this volume. Regardless, Dowd’s work has much methodological import for historians of early America and beyond who will certainly benefit from the approach he presents. Groundless shows that paying attention to falsities can uncover important cultural truths.
Toby C. Rider.Cold War Games: Propaganda, the Olympics, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Sport and Society Series. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016. 288 pp. $95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-252-04023-8; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-252-08169-9. Reviewed by Jeffrey Montez de Oca (University of Colorado Colorado Springs) Published on H-Diplo (September, 2016) Commissioned by Seth Offenbach I recently received an e-mail from a friend with the subject line “a new cold war.” My friend studies doping among elite athletes and he had just been interviewed about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) sanctions of Russian athletes. People who have grown up since the fall of the Berlin Wall may not realize the impact that the Cold War had on all aspects of human life, including sport. Indeed, much of what we take for granted today, including popular culture, was affected by the Cold War. For instance, the enduring success of the James Bond films is one reminder of the cultural Cold War. The growth of sport, especially international sport, during the Cold War can be easily forgotten. Toby C. Rider’s Cold War Games provides a very impressive history of how the United States and the Soviet Union used the Olympics during the 1950s for propaganda purposes. Both nations, Rider explains, saw the Olympics as spectacular stages of competition upon which their respective political-economic systems could be displayed. In this sense, athletic performance was a signifier of social and economic life on either side of the Iron Curtain. In his 1960 “Soft American” article in Sports Illustrated,John F. Kennedy explained that the United States and the Soviet Union offered the same modernizing promise to the world: “We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want.” So while the goal of the Cold War was control over territory and resources, the promise was an improved standard of living. And who is better suited to demonstrate improvements in health and wealth than elite athletes? As a result, US athletes, and popular entertainers, were widely used as cultural ambassadors to warm up the Cold War. The strength of Cold War Games does not lie in its original insight. The use of sport to achieve foreign policy objectives was no secret during the Cold War. Indeed, commentators throughout the 1950s and 1960s criticized the Soviet Union for using sport as a propaganda tool and US leaders for missing propaganda opportunities. Even comedic spy films, such as The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968) and S*P*Y*S (1974), humorously feature athletes that defect to the West. Instead, the strength of Cold War Games lies in its detailed explication of historical documents only recently made public. Through extensive review of government documents, Rider demonstrates in great detail that the United States developed extensive propaganda capabilities during the Second World War that were mobilized during the Cold War. Cold War Games shows how both countries invested in professionalizing sport in order to win medals. He also contends that the United States had extensive ties between the state and the market, which Rider calls the “state-private network,” that obscured the degree to which the US government produced messaging that supported its foreign policy objectives. The detailed research in Cold War Games also allows Rider to show that the use of the Olympics for propaganda purposes was not extraordinary. Rider begins by demonstrating how the persuasive powers of propaganda, or psychological operations, became central to achieving foreign policy objectives by nations throughout the twentieth century. Communicating the superiority of the so-called American way of life and Western freedom was a key message sent to discourage people behind the Iron Curtain. Similarly, Cold War Games shows the contradictory nature of the modern Olympic Movement. For instance, the Olympic Movement attempts to foster global peace through sporting spectacle but it is also rooted in nationalism. This means that as much as the IOC attempted to protect amateurism and keep politics out of the Olympics, the very logic of elite sport (Citius, Altius, Fortius) encourages professionalization and the Olympic festival is inherently political. As Rider states regarding the early years of the Olympics, “Almost immediately, the U.S. media began to suggest that the success of Uncle Sam’s athletes was synonymous with the nation’s strength and prestige” (p. 35). As a result, no matter how much the IOC resisted politicization of the Olympic Games during the Cold War, geopolitical struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union caused it to grow into the mega-events that we now know. As Rider states, “Cold War rivalries and politics captured worldwide attention, expanded the brand, and created a product that was perfect for television and, therefore, commercial exploitation” (p. 48). Rider reminds us that the Soviet Union was a relatively late entry into international competition. Under Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union wanted to insulate itself from Western influences. However, by 1945 Stalin had realized that international sports competition and the chance to compete directly with Western nations presented invaluable propaganda opportunities. “The Soviets came to view international sport as a strategic device in propaganda and diplomacy” (p. 42). The Soviet Union then built a state-centered sport system that allowed it to quickly develop its sporting infrastructure and elite athletes. In their first Olympics, the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games, the Soviet Union nearly matched the United States’ medal count (76 to 71). The Soviet Union won more medals than the United States at the 1956 Stockholm Summer Games (98 to 74). The United States did not “win the medal count” again in either the Summer or Winter Olympics until 1968 in Mexico City (107 to 91). There was, as Rider points out, a hue and a cry in the United States in reaction to the Soviet’s Olympic success. The result was an increased effort in the United States to counter the Soviet’s athletic propaganda. This resulted in increased US investments in international sport, especially women’s sport, in order to match the Soviets. The net result was that geopolitical competition spurred the professionalization of international sport. In the rest of the book, Rider illustrates examples of how the state worked with private individuals and organizations to create Cold War propaganda in support of US foreign policy objectives. The Campaign of Truth in the 1950s used the international language of sport to paint a picture of the American way of life. The United States tried to flip the Cold War script on the Soviet Union by using a group of Hungarian refugees known as the Hungarian National Sports Federation (HNSF) to demonstrate the negative conditions behind the Iron Curtain. Although the HNSF had limited impact, thirty-eight East European athletes who defected during the 1956 Melbourne Games provided a propaganda boon for the United States against the backdrop of Soviet tanks rolling into Hungary. At every step, Rider shows ways in which the US government was covertly involved in propagating its messaging and attempting to influence the IOC. The degree to which the United States was successful is an open question. The IOC resisted state influence despite being unsympathetic to the Communist cause and it is very difficult to measure the success of any psychological operation. At the same time, people in the US government and private sector felt they needed to stand up to the Soviet challenge. Rider’s analysis is narrowly focused on the uses of the Olympics for propaganda purposes by the Soviet Union and the United States. This allows him to provide readers with tremendous detail and intricacy. But it also overlooks some of the Cold War’s complexity. The Cold War was never really “cold.” Indeed, the new nations of the Global South (née Third World) were embroiled in terrible wars as the United States and Soviet Union embarked on their foreign policy objectives. The propaganda efforts by the United States and the Soviet Union were never directed exclusively at each other but also at the Global South that represented resources and markets. Athletes, especially African American, were regularly used to counter the Soviet claim throughout the decolonizing world that Jim Crow racism was the same as European colonialism. Cold War Games would have been strengthened by a broader focus on the larger geopolitical implications of Olympic propaganda efforts. Similarly, better contextualization of anxieties related to the performance of US athletes to the broader “culture of the Cold War” would have helped readers understand why the supposedly apolitical world of sport seemed so urgent at the time. It strikes me that Rider is a little too quick to accept the US claim that its athletes were unsupported by the state. While the US sport system was never statist like the Soviet system, it did rely heavily on public middle schools, high schools, and universities as well as non-state institutions, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Amateur Athletic Union, to develop athletic talent. I also would have liked to see Rider engage a little more thoroughly with the existing literature on sport and the cultural Cold War. This is especially so given that his stated goal is correcting the fact that “for too long sport has been neglected in the tale of the U.S. cultural Cold War” (p. 8). There are a few books on sport and the cultural Cold War that Rider could have cited, including Russ Crawford’s The Use of Sports to Promote the American Way of Life during the Cold War: Cultural Propaganda, 1945-1963 (2008), Kurt Edward Kemper’s College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era (2009), or my book Discipline & Indulgence: College Football, Media, and the American Way of Life during the Cold War (2013). Even considering my reservations, Cold War Games is a strong addition to the literature on sport and the cultural Cold War. It is well researched and provides a highly detailed picture of political intrigues that unfolded behind the scenes of the Olympics in the 1950s. It sheds valuable light on how the US government tends to operate through private sector actors to obscure, and make more effective, its propaganda. It also makes clear that much of the reporting on international sport in the mainstream media is at least indirectly influenced by the US government. When we look at the ritualized coverage of medal counts, human interest stories about Chinese children brutalized in elite sport centers, or the characterization of such Russian athletes as Yulia Efimova, Cold War Games helps us to realize that those stories are not simply neutral sports reporting. Much of what we take for granted was developed within the geopolitical frame of the Cold War and further contoured by the politics of today. Note . John F. Kennedy, “Soft American,” Sports Illustrated (December 26, 1960), http:// sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1134750/index.htm.
Nature & Culture archives: reviews from our past issues:
We wish to inaugurate this section (which will be featured in each issue of N&C) with the review of a recent book on a subject very close to us here at the American University of Paris. The reason is obvious.
Charles Glass, Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation, New York: Penguin Press, 2010. Illustrations. xvi + 524 pp. $32.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-59420-242-1.
Reviewed by Anne Berg (University of Michigan)
Published on H-TGS in August, 2014 (reproduced with permission). Commissioned by Josh Brown. These American Lives
Americans landed on the beach of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and slowly pushed the Nazi menace back across the Rhine, liberated France, linked up with the advancing Red Army just south of Berlin in late April, and presided over German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945. Charles Glass’s Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation tells an altogether different and refreshing story of American involvement in Europe during World War II. Unlike the title of the book suggests, this is a story of life and sometimes of love, a story of moderate privation but hardly one of death. It is also a story of negotiation, collaboration, and occasional resistance, and the binary juxtaposition of the latter two function as the main theoretical frame explicitly provided in the introduction.
The book reads like a novel and features an unusual cast of characters. Instead of soldiers and politicians, Glass recounts the experiences of war through the eyes of American expats who decided to stay in Paris after the city was occupied by Germany in the summer of 1940. There is Sylvia Beach who ran a bookshop and functioned as a central figure in literary circles in Paris. The countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun, connected to the high society of Vichy France and General Pétain by way of her son’s marriage and to the political aristocracy of America by virtue of her own marriage, maintained a particular dedication to her work at the American Library of Paris. At the American Hospital, the chief surgeon Dr. Sumner Jackson together with his wife Toquette worked tirelessly to thwart the occupiers. In contrast, the cast includes Charles Bedaux, the American businessman turned war profiteer and opportunistic collaborator, all the while continuing to play the role of the “unpolitical man.” Lastly, here is, of course, the “American mayor of Paris,” American ambassador William Bullitt, who found himself in charge of a city abandoned by the French government.
The Americans featured in this book were exclusively members of upper (middle) classes and part of a transnational intellectual bourgeoisie. They spoke with statesmen and presidents, they courted Nazi officials, and they befriended such renowned literary figures as Ernest Hemingway; one of them relied on forced labor and many found themselves in prison camps or under house arrest once the United States officially entered the war. Nonetheless, the protagonists, members of an odd elite, generally did not have to contend with excessive brutality, callousness, and whimsicality of the occupiers. Beach was able to move freely through Paris still in 1943 but allegedly her life in the city was more exhausting than in the internment camp she had escaped from at Vittel. Jackson and his wife were notable exceptions. After having actively assisted the organized French resistance, Sumner Jackson died in Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg, Germany. His son, imprisoned with him, and his wife, interned at Ravensbrück, survived the war.
There are additional though less prominently featured characters who enter and leave the narrative that Glass so skillfully constructs, but one in particular requires mention. Charles Anderson is not only left with the last word; his blackness literally bookends Glass’s cautiously celebratory tale. He was born in 1861 in Illinois, ran away from home, and fought with the U.S. Army “as it was completing the annihilation of the Indian tribes,” came to Europe in 1884, enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, and fought in Africa during the Great War (p. 17). He and his French wife remained in Nazi-occupied Paris. When the U.S. Army liberated Paris and American troops marched through the city, Glass imagines Anderson to only notice “their white faces” (p. 411). But since his story does not intersect with those of the other Americans in this book, the details of his Parisian life remain shrouded in silence.
Having chosen to let the narrative drive the book, Glass misses the opportunity to forge connections between such glaring silences and the historical record in more explicitly analytical terms. Nonetheless, the author illustrates that Paris was less segregated than the United States, and that black Americans faced not only less outright racism but also fewer social barriers while abroad. The struggle of Eugene Bullard, an African American from Columbus, Georgia, is instructive in this regard. Bullard had traveled to Europe at the age of eleven and fought with the French against the Germans during the Great War at age nineteen. He remained in Paris where he later owned a nightclub, married, had two daughters, got divorced, and eventually worked for the French intelligence as a spy. When the Germans arrived in 1940, Bullard left Paris and joined the French Infantry in Orleans to fight the Germans. Wounded in battle and fleeing on a bicycle, he managed to secure a passport and escape to the United States. Bullard’s story, although hardly typical, nonetheless illustrates a central point that Glass wishes to make, namely, that Nazi racism made life exceedingly dangerous, if not impossible for black Americans in Paris. The survival of Anderson thus stands out even more starkly as an illustration of the questions the book raises but is unable to answer.
By virtue of his novelesque style, Glass makes two important interventions. First, he demonstrates through the different perspectives engaged that America played multiple, complicated, and at times conflicting roles in the European conflict. The book moreover demystifies (perhaps inadvertently) the concept of everyday life and ordinariness since hardly anything was ordinary in the lives of the Americans who remained in Nazi-occupied France. Secondly, the book illustrates how, different ideologies not withstanding, members of the international elite, whether businessmen, professionals, politicians, diplomats, bohemians, aristocrats, or intellectuals, maintained and forged connections across national and sometimes even frontlines. Beach’s literary circle, Bedaux’s business ventures, and Clara’s political connections are particularly revealing in this regard. Through such examples, the book suggests that personal histories and convictions rather than national sentiment determined the action and allegiances of Americans in ex-patria.
Glass claims at the outset that Americans in Paris “were among the most eccentric, original and disparate collection of their countrymen anywhere” (p. 1). By implication, and the narrative mode confirms this implication, their action or inaction and their collaboration or resistance (to keep with this problematic juxtaposition) are the logical result of their personal qualities and idiosyncracies, rather than the direct consequence of Nazi occupation and the harsh political, social, and racial realities that affected the lives of non-Americans in the city of Paris. Glass is obviously familiar with the important scholarship on German-occupied France. But only rarely does he allow this complex history to intrude on this American story. Parisians only enter the narrative in their relations with Americans. The city of Paris remains a backdrop to their lives and object of their desires. Similarly, the occupiers are relegated to the background, their villainous nature asserted but unexplored. Nazi practices, policies, and actions, as well as their views of Paris and Parisians and of America and American expats, are implied but seldom scrutinized. Americans are the sole actors in this story.
Thus the main weakness of Glass’s book—its narrow focus—also engenders the book’s main strength. The actors we do encounter are beautifully complex. They are far from unanimously good or steadfast in their anti-Nazism or their commitment to democratic principles. Thus their individual life stories collectively illustrate the slippery slope that links the spectrum of practice flattened by binaries of collaboration and resistance. In their daily pursuits, their desires, their relationships, and their occasional struggles, they appear entirely and wonderfully human. One might almost forget that for ordinary Parisians of different racial, social, and national characteristics, as for most of Europe, of course, the Nazis’ genocidal war was the only meaningful frame of reference.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.
Citation: Anne Berg. Review of Glass, Charles, Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation. H-TGS, H-Net Reviews. August, 2014. URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=40476
Mark S. Monmonier, No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. xiii + 242 pp. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-226-53467-1; $18.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-226-53468-8.
Reviewed by Richard Harris (University of Bristol)
Published on H-TGS in July, 2010 (reproduced with permission). Commissioned by Robert J. Mayhew
Maps: Restricting and Enabling.
Had this book arrived without its cover, the author would have remained obvious. This is a Mark Monmonier text through and through: well written, engaging, mildly provocative, quirky at times, lavishly illustrated (albeit in black and white) and underpinned by a dry but generous sense of humor. It is full of interesting examples of how maps are used to naturalize claims to territory and then to restrict access.
As it happens my copy came fully intact with the blurb describing it as “a worthy successor to his critically acclaimed How to Lie with Maps.” Well, yes, it is a successor and its predecessor has been critically acclaimed (rightly so). There is also a return to previous themes, most notably an expanded discussion of gerrymandering boundaries for political gain (with the passing note that its namesake, Governor Elbridge Gerry, has been somewhat unfairly associated with the process).
However, as Monmonier himself writes, the new book is better understood as the fourth in a series of short cartographic histories exploring the evolution and impact of a map symbol or feature. The first, Rhumb Lines and Map Wars (2004) is about grid lines. From Square Tit to Whorehouse Meadow (2006) is about standardized place and feature names. Coast Lines (2008) is about how mapmakers frame the world and chart environmental change. In his new book Monmonier turns to “prohibitive cartography”--how cartography works as a mapping tool, leading to “our unconscious acceptance of cartographic boundaries of all types as natural, beneficial, and worth obeying” (p. xii).
The key point is that boundaries matter. They delimit and (literally) ground a claim to territorial possession. By doing so they shout to would-be trespassers, “keep out!” This is true at multiple scales.
Monmonier begins by looking at property properties, how they have been surveyed and marked, and the challenges of recovering a boundary described by historical landmarks. A discussion of frontier lands shows how large tracts of the United States were carved into apparently regular grids but ones that converge towards the North Pole. Hence the phenomenon of otherwise long and straight roads having occasional and seemingly inexplicably bends: they are due to the offset of land boundaries, correcting for converging meridians.
Turning to geopolitics, Monmonier considers the construction of physical barriers such as the Israeli security fence around the West Bank, the creation of national boundaries based on ethno-cultural and economic criteria of “self-determination” after World War I, and present-day territorial boundaries claimed by “absentee landlords” (Monmonier’s phrase). An example of the third is in Antarctica where neat but not undisputed boundaries divide the polar pie into national slices, the boundaries of which extend out and are defined by conveniently located coastal positions, islands, and landmarks on other continents.
Even more natural boundaries are scrutinized for the false sense of obviousness they attempt to bestow. Water rights are particularly problematic. Who, for example, owns the land that is eroded from one shore and deposited on another? And what if that changing landscape also happens to define a nation’s boundary? How about maritime boundaries? It’s all very well to say they extend a certain distance from the shoreline but coastlines are fractal so what is the appropriate level of generalization to apply to the map before making the measurement? Then there are the complications of estuaries, submerged land, continental shelves, and offshore islands. The use of cartography to defend, define, and contest territorial claims is fascinating, as are the legal-cum-moral asides: does an island nation retain its claim to maritime waters if it is submerged by rising sea levels due to climate change? It’s less of a moot discussion for residents of the Maldives.
Whereas some boundaries define ownership, others delimit what can take place within, or what or who should be kept out. Examples including municipal zoning plans that range from micro-managing the architectural and physical appearance of “historic neighborhoods” to controlling the types of commerce and business that may take place within. But not entirely: adult shops have the right to operate somewhere. The dilemma for the city official is where: away from schools and religious buildings, of course, but then all together in a single “adult use district” or dispersed across the region? Or perhaps they could be directed to a corner of the municipality where the only access route is from across the border?
Throughout the book Monmonier eloquently describes a wide range of case studies in a manner that retains but does not the swamp the reader in detail, the uniqueness and, often, outright bizarreness of particular circumstances. At the same time, the studies come together to demonstrate how simple lines on a map belie protracted negotiations, legal complexities, claims and counterclaims, and the ulterior motivations behind the questionable logic that lays claim to territory. It is, perhaps, a little too descriptive. The text lacks a discussion of the power of maps (to cite another book title) to beguile and seduce. How actually do maps work? Do they really restrict or are they simply the end product--the cartographic visualization of prior decisions to restrict and control? Each chapter has only a brief introduction and the end tends to be left hanging. Whilst this leaves readers free to draw their own conclusions, some may want a little more sign-posting about the path the text is taking and what is to be learned along the way.
A second minor criticism I have is that the title frames a generally negative view of how maps operate: no dig, no fly, no go. However, as the book itself makes clear, boundaries are constructed and maps make them visible. That means they can be contested. Perhaps the book might have ended on a more positive note, looking at participatory mapping or so-called (but dubiously named) neogeography, where new technologies and access to data enable the world to be mapped and imagined from multiple points of view.
These are quibbles. The book is excellent and scholarly throughout, well written for anyone who is interested in the importance of maps in society and on the world stage. It should be required reading for all students of geography and is a highly recommended addition to the Monmonier canon.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.
Stephen C. Neff,Justice among Nations: A History of International Law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014. 640 pp. $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-674-72529-4.
Reviewed by William E. Butler (Pennsylvania State University) Published on H-TGS in July, 2014 (reproduced with permission). Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
Toward a History of the Law of Nations
For those few hardy souls who offer a course or seminar on the history of the law of nations, better known by its Benthamite appellation “international law,” Stephen C. Neff’s recent treatise Justice among Nations: A History of International Law will be a heaven-sent and long overdue addition to the small category of general works on the subject suitable for instructional purposes. IThis is not the author’s first work on the subject; on the contrary, he has been an impressively productive presence in the field for more than two decades whose specialized monographs have set the stage for this most recent addition. He commenced with Friends But No Allies: Economic Liberalism and the Law of Nations (1990); followed by "Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on Behalf of the International Commission of Jurists" (1991), Reading Human Rights: An Annotated Guide to a Human Rights Library (1997) published in Colombo, and The Rights and Duties of Neutrals: A General History (2000). More recently, he published a broader study, War and the Law of Nations: A General History (2005); a specific study devoted to the American Civil War, Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War (2010); and a student edition of Hugo Grotius on the Law of War and Peace (2012).
Following T. S. Eliot’s line “in the end there is beginning” (recently an inspiration for a hymn), I commence with the substantial bibliographic essay which concludes the volume. Much better than a mere list of sources, the essay evaluates the superior contributions to the field and is a proper place for graduate students in international law and relations to commence their reading. At once we encounter the paucity of available general studies. Douglas M. Johnston’s The Historical Foundations of World Order: The Tower and the Arena (2008)--a magnificent work--was priced beyond the range of most individuals. Wilhelm Grewe’s The Epochs of International Law, translated by Michael Byers (2000), concentrates on the medieval and postmedieval periods; it is, as Neff describes the volume, “a political history of international law” (p. 462). Still valuable but difficult to find in the market is Arthur Nussbaum’s A Concise History of the Law of Nations (second edition, 1954). Otherwise one is left to work with studies from the late eighteenth century to the outbreak of the Second World War--from Robert Ward (1795) onward. Alternatively, one would need to read German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, or Ukrainian for surveys of the subject from a variety of points of view.
The volume here reviewed is organized into four parts containing eleven chapters which combine thematic and chronological periodization. Chapters 1 to 3 encompass the period up to 1550; part 2 contains chapters 4 and 5 which embrace the years 1550 to 1815; part 3, devoted to chapters 6 to 8, addresses the century between 1815 and 1914; and part 4 treats the century from 1914 to the present. There is a brief conclusion, followed by endnotes (which would have better served the reader as footnotes), the bibliographic essay noted above, and an index.
The book is intended for university students and a general readership of all ages and beyond. Neff is guided in his coverage by his own perception of what students need to comprehend when studying international law. He describes the history of international law as the “scientific study of the emergence of order out of chaos.” How, he says in asking the eternal question, “is it possible--even in theory let alone in practice--to have a ‘legal system’ of any kind between states when there is no ruler to promulgate it? Where does it come from? And why is it obeyed?” International law for Neff, therefore, “is not so much a list of rules” as a response of states and the international community to the challenge of “devising answers” to these queries (p. 2).
His book, therefore, may be described as “the story for answers to these questions (and similar ones) over the course of human history” (p. 2). Neff’s concern is less for the actual substance of international law and more for how international law has been interpreted, how it has been applied in practice, and “above all” how the answers to the questions he raises have changed over the years. Thus Neff endorses the value of comparative international law. Indeed, he observes that it would be a “great error” to imagine international law to be a “single, unitary phenomenon” (p. 3). He enjoys maritime analogies: international law as a large ship subject to constant refittings; or as a river perpetually in flow but constantly eroding its banks, changing shape, sometimes in flood, other times drought.
Neff treats all developments in international law up to circa 1550 as a single period. During these centuries, Neff observes, there were numerous deities for “justice,” but none for international law; that is, there were no guardians among the gods and goddesses of justice between individual nations. It was left to the populace of nations to find a means of interposing justice into interstate relations. For Neff, it “appears all the more striking that glimmers of international law can be discerned nearly as far back as historical records will take us” (p. 7). It is a singular merit of this study that Neff addresses the early origins of international law in Greece and Rome, to be sure, but also Mesopotamia, the Middle East, India, and China. However, his conclusions are hardly routine. He perceptively notes the difficulties inherent in a community accepting that peoples outside the cultural horizon of another should entertain a belief that there could exist a single source of legal duty or single “font of justice” that would or could be recognized “transculturally” (p. 34). The overriding view was that rulers were subject to their own deities and not by a deity purporting to govern all the peoples of the world.
Neff cites Plato and Aristotle for the proposition that neither imagined their precepts of moderation and justice in war would extend to non-Greeks: “There would appear to be no record of a Greek polis ever concluding a treaty with a barbarian State” (p. 35). Nonetheless, dealings with strangers were essential. Neff persuasively argues that a comparison of the three principal regions of Eurasia--India, China, and the Mediterranean--offer instructive insights that “would be decisive for the shape that international law would take throughout its history.” India and the West opted for what Neff calls “universal religious--cum--philosophical systems” that posited the equality of all peoples. Imperial China preferred a different approach based on an “explicitly sinocentric outlook” that relegated individuals who were culturally alien to the Chinese world to a marginal place, at best, in the larger scheme of things (p. 37).
Neff’s perception of China is of considerable interest. When China was divided into the Warring States, there was considerable reflection on and invention in international relations. Once the Warring States merged in 221 BC into a single centralized empire, China had no further reasons to direct its attention to international legal doctrine. Thereafter, China’s international concerns, by land, were with its northern frontiers, inland Asia. The Confucian world outlook at the time restrained the Chinese from regarding various nations outside China as independent equals or as compatriots within a single world system. The outcome, Neff says, “was to make the very idea of international law ... as a law between independent States” impossible in principle (p. 39).
In an entirely different context than one usually encounters, Neff concludes that “in a world that is regarded as containing, ultimately, only one country or one single system, there can hardly be any such thing as international law” (p. 39). One encounters similar sentiments in interwar literature on comparative law (for example, H. C. Gutteridge’s Comparative Law ), where it was argued that the law of nations had no place in comparative law because of its avowed universality (there was nothing to compare it to) or because of the uniqueness as a legal system in principle. Similar argumentation was adduced with respect to natural law, which has held to be universal and eternal, that is, the same for all historical time periods.
The role of comparison is far more subtle than these observations suggest; it matters little to comparative law whether the comparative method is deployed within or outside of a legal structure. The Chinese tradition of exacting or imposing tribute on neighboring communities was, in the view of many, a reinforcement of the Chinese perception of their place in the world. Neff, however, is entirely plausible when he suggests that “the stubborn and continued denial of that equality in principle constituted a firm conceptual barrier against the development of an image of a world of independent states of equal legal status--that is, against the very idea that would be at the core of later international thought” (p. 42).
China and Rome each entertained a belief of sorts in a “global law” (p. 48). But in the Chinese view, the Chinese emperor would be the head of a world state, whereas the Roman vision rested on the idea of an impersonal and universal rule of law rather than on a benevolent ruler. The historical outcome is that the Roman path proved to be durable, whereas the Chinese approach did not.
Neff accords natural law considerable space: “The significance of natural law for the development of international law can hardly be overstated. In a nutshell, it was the idea that there is a body of law above and beyond that of state governments ... it was the notion that this law actually constrains governments themselves just as it constrains ordinary people” (p. 51). Natural law, Neff says, was a force of unity in the world, albeit most powerful in medieval Europe, together with the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. Seemingly the weakest of the triad of unity factors, natural law as an intellectual design was more durable than empire or church and continues to this day to be viewed by many as the foundation of international law. Neff observes that natural law predates Christianity by a considerable period of time, being entirely a product of Greek and Roman civilization. It is impossible, Neff argues, to overstate the importance of this point: “Natural law was not religious either in content or origin, nor did the Christian faith have any privileged status within it.” However, natural law was a law for the entire world, transcending national entities or subjects; “natural law … was a radically cosmopolitan, universalist corpus of thought,” together with the jus gentium and the jus commune (p. 59).
In the High Middle Ages, a new perspective on the law of nations appeared, which Neff calls the “rationalist approach.” Associated, he believes, with the medieval rediscovery of Aristotle’s work and the writing of Thomas Aquinas, this perspective was completely independent of the will or command of God and could not be the property of any individual culture, religion, or civilization. In this version, Neff concludes, natural law “exerted a powerful influence on international legal thought” (p. 63). Not until later, however, when the firm grip of natural law on the jus gentium was released, could international law as we know it come into being in the seventeenth century.
The “crowning achievement” of the jus gentium in the Middle Ages, according to Neff, was the just-war doctrine. This doctrine was present in all the major theories of the jus gentium, which Neff discusses. He comments that the just-war doctrine was entirely nonreligious in character even though theologians were the principal expounders of the doctrine; the religious affiliation of the parties at war played no role in the general approach to the theory. The just-war doctrine addressed the situations in which one might resort to force and take offensive measures by striking the first blow and commencing hostilities; it was not concerned with issues of self-defense, which in medieval writing was governed by natural law.
In daily life, the jus commune predominated--the law that was common to the whole of Catholic Europe. The province of legal practitioners and judges and recorded in the records of judicial proceedings and judgments, or the opinions of jurists, on specific issues put to them, these materials have yet to be fully explored, Neff observes, for their impact on the development of international law. “It is … apparent that many of the principles employed by later writers in the natural-law tradition actually came from this source rather than from the actual natural-law writing of the Middle Ages. Moreover, within the jus commune, the canon law contribution to international law has been especially overlooked” (p. 73).
Doctrines of papal superiority over secular rulers, Neff claims, originate in the canon law; a considerable portion of diplomatic law and practice came from church practices and, therefore, from canon law. Despite its all-European presence, however, the jus commune was a European and a Christian law and did not purport to reach further.
Against the aforementioned elements of universality and unity in law, Neff turns to the forces that undermined unity. Not least was the emergence of independent states in Europe. Among these were the Italian communes, and eventually the various European kingdoms. Neff attributes the impetus to create independent states primarily to the emergence of Aristotelian writing that encouraged mutual independence of states and were opposed to concepts of universal dominion. In due course the jus gentium detached itself from natural law. In the medieval world, both natural law and the jusgentium “existed on the margins of medieval legal consciousness” (p. 80). Attention is then accorded to the development of maritime law, the law of war, and the Law Merchant.
The chapter on new worlds (chapter 3) addresses the Age of Discovery, as would be expected, but also the Islamic world. Neff distinguishes neatly between the Islamic concepts of “jihad” and actual practices with the world outside Islam. The harshness of Islamic doctrines of jihad was softened, Neff believes, by the introduction of legal devices, such as the truce, or the payment of tribute by an infidel state to a Muslim one, or the granting of safe conducts. The safe conduct was the device through which Islamic countries engaged themselves in extensive commercial links with European Christian states during the Middle Ages. We are rightly reminded that European expansionism dates back to at least the Crusades, rather than the sixteenth century. Europeans in those times sought to recover the Holy Land; liberate Spain from the Muslims; extend Christianity into the Baltic; and seek new discoveries in Iceland, Greenland, and momentarily North America. Here Neff explores the pagans as sovereigns, the justifications for crusading, peaceful ties between states, finding new territories outside Europe, the famous papal division of the world, claims of Spanish sovereignty, the acquisition of title by just war, and others. Against these elements, Neff juxtaposes expansive claims to maritime territory and alternative theories regarding the acquisition of title to newly discovered lands.
We dwell on this rather detailed account above of part 1 of Neff’s treatise because he raises original thoughts on the early period of the development of the law of nations that was either neglected or was addressed in the most cursory manner by earlier writers. He opens chapter 4 with the anecdote of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus carrying a copy of the 1625 edition of Hugo Grotius’s On the Law of War and Peace with him on military campaigns, noteworthy for the heft of the volume but also because the Swedish court appointed Grotius to be their ambassador in Paris. Between 1550 and 1815, Neff notes, the subtle movement toward abandoning the “just” and “unjust” war doctrines and accepting the practical result that, given the ambiguity of who was acting “justly,” both sides would be regarded as having equal rights to “exercise the normal prerogatives of just belligerents” (p. 147). This is one example of numerous instances in Neff’s treatise where he identifies and argues most eloquently that the publicists were having an actual impact on state practice.
“Putting Nature and Nations Asunder” as the title of chapter 4 is the characterization that Neff gives to the clear separation in the period considered between natural law and the jus gentium. Francisco Suarez is credited with setting out the first and most systematic case for this separation which Grotius carried to a wider audience. Although Neff believes the Grotian impact to be exaggerated by his followers, the formation of the “Grotian tradition” rests on his dualist perspective that distinguished between natural law and so-called voluntary law: “His reputation only seemed to grow, even as the actual reading of his famous book fell increasingly out of fashion” (pp. 165, 166). But Grotius was not, in Neff’s view, the Isaac Newton or the Galileo Galilei of international law: “His instincts were firmly in the past, in the rationalist tradition of natural law extended back to Aquinas” (p. 166).
One of Grotius’s protagonists was Thomas Hobbes, and around these two individuals emerged rival schools of international law. On the one hand, Hobbes’s followers were styled the “naturalists”; they believed the sole body of law binding between states was natural law. On the other hand, the “dualists,” sometimes called the “Grotians” or “eclectics,” understood there to be two separate and distinct systems of law between states--natural law and the jus gentium.
Subsequent developments in international legal doctrine, Neff contends, turned less on the divisions between naturalists and Grotians and more on rival approaches that emerged within the Grotian camp. Chapter 5 is devoted to these approaches, epitomized in the writings of Sir Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant, Christian von Wolff, Baron Zouche, Johann Jacob Moser, Emer de Vattel, G. F. Martens, and others--“rationalists versus pragmatists” in Neff’s perception, with the last becoming predominant.
The remainder of the book is essentially divided into two centuries, the first following the Congress of Vienna to the outbreak of the First World War, and the second from 1914 to the present. For most readers this will be more familiar ground. Neff deftly transports the reader through the three principal variants of positivism (empirical, common-will, voluntarist) and their ultimate synthesis into a “rough harmony”--an amalgamation that Neff calls “mainstream positivism” (p. 243). Dissident voices were heard, however, and continue to be so--the tenacity of natural law, liberalism, nationality, and solidarism. By the early twentieth century, international law was, in Neff’s words, “in full flower,” with increased emphasis on dispute resolution, lawmaking or codification, and enforcement measures (p. 298).
The promising foliage of international law was severely burned by the First World War, but nonetheless optimistic realists among international lawyers hoped for a “lasting peace” in which a “new international law” might emerge to prevent such appalling conflicts (p. 346). The League of Nations plays a prominent role in Neff’s account of this period, as one would expect, and the establishment of the United Nations is seen as “building anew” (p. 395). All credit to the author for bringing his account to the present, for yesterday already is history. His concluding observation is well taken: developments of the early twenty-first century “provided further evidence ... that the efficacy of international law is not something to be taken for granted” (p. 478). Yet “one of the more remarkable facts of world history ... is how well this precarious mechanism of largely voluntary compliance actually works in practice” (p. 479). The schools of thought, Neff suggests, in international law have been remarkably stable since the late nineteenth century.
Rich in insights, thoughtful in argument, sometimes elegant in presentation, well structured, masterful in its command of the material, sweeping in its coverage of the multiple past and present international legal systems that have formed on the planet, Neff’s newest publication will take its due place as the leading English-language work on the history of international law.
Heather E. McGregor, Inuit Education and Schools in the Eastern Arctic, Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010. 220 pp. $85.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7748-1744-8.
Reviewed by Jon Reyhner (Northern Arizona University)
Published on H-TGS in August, 2010 (reproduced with permission). Commissioned by Jonathan D. Anuik
Inuit Education in the Far North: Progress and Pitfalls
Heather McGregor’s Inuit Education and Schools in the Eastern Arctic examines the history of Inuit education in the Far North of Canada. She finds that colonization only occurred there in earnest after World War II and she divides the Far North’s history of education into the pre-1945 traditional, 1945-70 colonial, 1970-82 territorial, and 1982-99 local periods. Throughout the book the author demonstrates a real effort to complement and contrast the reports of government bureaucracies and outside researchers with the voice of the Inuit.
A century ago, missionaries entered the Arctic and often stayed long enough to learn the Inuit languages. Around 1900 missionaries developed a syllabary for Inuktitut and reading and writing it spread. During the colonial period after World War II small government schools were established in the new settlements, often built around Hudson Bay Company trading posts, where the Inuit could buy food and rifles, leading to a move away from traditional Inuit ways of life.
Teachers recruited from southern Canada to staff village schools lacked training in cross-cultural education and usually did not stay long enough to learn much about the Inuit. Besides the language gap these teachers faced, there was a fundamental contradiction between their values and those expressed in the teaching materials they used, and Inuit values. McGregor quotes Mary A. Van Meenen’s 1994 doctoral dissertation stating, “The core of the problem was that neither the federal nor territorial governments understood the peoples they were trying to educate” (p. 87). The resulting culturally assimilationist education led to a loss of Inuit cultural identity and “widespread … spousal abuse, alcoholism, and suicide” (p. 81). McGregor quotes Alootook Ipellie as to the effect of this colonial education that could be found across the world: “For years, all three generations had different goals and values, and all suffered. The educational system failed Inuit youth. They dropped out in swarms year after year, creating a society of half-educated young men and women who could not adjust fully to either of the cultures they were being brought up in. They became sons and daughters without destiny, without pride in their past and without much of a future--dropouts, social sores, listless vegetables. Many of them chose the easy way out by committing suicide” (p. 81). McGregor notes the need to bring along adults educationally as well as their children to avoid these generational splits.
McGregor cites various studies and interviews that describe traditional Inuit education as “learner-centered,” “fundamentally experiential,” and based on the need for environmental knowledge to survive in the harsh northern environment. It was family-based and focused on experiential knowledge and “ecocentric identity” (p. 39). Family members taught “the ways the Inuit live with, and know about, their environment” (p. 31). She notes that “children [were] named after a respected Elder who had recently passed” and that “treating a child with disrespect or imposing one’s will was equal to acting in that manner toward the child’s Elder namesake and was therefore unacceptable” (p. 42). McGregor quotes Taqtu from Susan Cowans's edited book, We Don’t Live in Snowhouses Now: Reflections of Arctic Bay (1976): “Later on the children had to go to school, which was all right too: they had to learn if they were not going to be staying in camp. They had to take jobs, which was also all right. There was really no choice, and I accepted it gladly because our children had to learn. I wanted them to learn English so they can have good jobs when they grow up” (p. 70). Inuit parents saw that the greatest benefit of education was learning English because this could lead to jobs, which the loss of the traditional nomadic hunting life made increasingly necessary.
Some teachers, but not nearly enough, responded to the meaninglessness for Inuit children of southern textbooks used in northern classrooms. In 1960 R. A. J. Phillips noted in the journal North, “teaching should begin with the familiar and move at the appropriate pace to the new and challenging” (p. 80). And in 1968 a primary-level Arctic Reading Series was printed.
In the 1970-82 territorial period First Nations in Canada demanded more voice in the education of their children, and the Canadian government began exhibiting more sensitivity towards cultural differences. In southern Canada this meant more band-operated schools and in 1976 in the North a Linguistics Division was formed in the Northwest Territories Department of Education to develop materials in Aboriginal languages. More Inuit teaching assistants were employed, and some Inuit received teacher training because of the 1968 formation of the Northwest Territory Teacher Education Program. McGregor notes, “For Inuit to own the education system they had to first become familiar with it and involved in its operation” (p. 97). There was a call for more Inuit studies in the 1970s, but curriculum materials were still lacking. McGregor quotes Mi'kmaw education scholar Marie Battiste to the effect that, "Through ill-conceived government policies and plans, Aboriginal youths were subjected to a combination of powerful but profoundly distracting forces of cognitive imperialism and colonization. Various boarding schools, industrial schools, day schools, and Eurocentric educational practices ignored or rejected the world-views, languages, and values of Aboriginal parents in the education of their children. The outcome was the gradual loss of these world-views, languages and cultures and the creation of widespread social and psychological upheaval in Aboriginal communities" (p. 23). However, despite all the problems, this education helped develop an Inuit leadership that could resist federal paternalism and work for self-determination.
At the start of McGregor’s local period, in 1982, three regional boards of education were established and culturally appropriate teaching resources were developed. There was a call for culture-based and bilingual schooling so that education would “be community-based, culturally relevant, student-centred, activity-oriented, balanced, integrated, collaborative, and process-oriented” (p. 134). Despite this educational progress, McGregor finds that educational issues were largely ignored in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement negotiations, leading to the establishment of the Nunavut Territory in 1999, with the result that the three regional school boards were dissolved. Today, there is more local governmental control but less local educational control and there are fewer educated local people to qualify for government jobs. McGregor finds that, “Inuit are living with very low standards in one of the richest countries in the world” (p. 161).
McGregor notes that there is a danger of trivializing Inuit culture when bringing it into the classroom and that tradition is not static. In an appendix, she lists the eight guiding principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit agreed on by consensus of Inuit elders to be included in Inuit classrooms. They include “respecting others,” “being open, welcoming,” “developing collaborative relationships," “environmental stewardship,” “knowledge and skills acquisition,” being “resourceful,” “consensus decision-making,” and “contributing to the common good” (pp. 173-174). She finds there is more culture-based education today, but schools still rely on Alberta standardized tests to determine graduation, leading to an increased dropout rate.
McGregor concludes that, “The evidence thus far is that schools continue to rely on the methods and structure of schooling established by Qallunaat [white] education, whereas learning opportunities that reflect traditional Inuit methods are exceptional,” which helps foster a 70 to 75 percent dropout rate and the highest recorded levels of suicide among the approximately 35,000 Inuit today (p. 166). Because of the current re-centralization of school administration, “parents … are increasingly disengaged from involvement in educational decision making” (p. 168). The use of English as the instructional medium has been problematic from the beginning of colonial education. As the 1972 Northwest Territories Department of Education’s survey noted, “Language is such a vital aspect of the culture of any people that its loss frequently constitutes a seriously traumatic experience for those involved and constitutes an automatic denigration of their whole culture” (p. 91). McGregor cites the passage of a 2009 Inuit Language Protection Act in her afterword as giving some hope for the acknowledgement of the cultural needs of the Inuit but, overall, McGregor’s book does not end on an optimistic note.
Inuit Education and Schools in the Eastern Arctic is a valuable contribution to the history of colonial education worldwide and in Canada. It complements Anne Vick-Westgate’s book, entitled Nunavik: Inuit-controlled Education in Arctic Quebec (2002). What is particularly interesting about Inuit education is how compressed in time the changes that have taken place are. In southern Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and many other places, governments got involved in indigenous education in the nineteenth century; the colonial and territorial periods of indigenous education lasted more than a century; and, in some contexts, those periods are likely still ongoing.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.
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