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Autobiography, Journalism, and Controversy

Freya Stark's Baghdad Sketches

Mary Henes

This article examines Freya Stark's life-writing over a forty-year period in order to shed light on her experience of Baghdad from 1929 to 1933. The article focuses on Stark's resistance to expected feminine norms of the British community, and contextualizes her experience alongside that of Gertrude Bell and Stefana Drower. Stark's experiences, and those of Drower, reveal the ways in which British women resisted the mundane expatriate lifestyle, and gained a great deal of cultural understanding though their interaction with Iraqis. Furthermore, the article discusses Stark's work at the Baghdad Times, a literary apprenticeship that also led to the publication of Baghdad Sketches. The article not only highlights the plurality of autobiographical presentation characteristic of Stark's oeuvre, but also reveals how Stark refashioned her experiences throughout her life, taking into account her changing status and the different political and cultural climates in which the works were published.

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Robert Eastwood

This article is a non-technical review of the economics of global policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Quite a lot is known about the likely physical consequences of anthropogenic climate change, but much uncertainty remains. In particular, account needs to be taken of possible catastrophes such as ice sheet melting. How are we to balance the known costs of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the present against the uncertain benefits of such action for future generations? How convincing is the case for substantial measures to be undertaken now? If the case for such action is accepted, should emissions be controlled via Kyoto-style national emissions targets or by the imposition of carbon taxes? How can the challenges of burden sharing between developed and developing countries be addressed?

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Anja Kublitz

This article offers a situational analysis of the printing of cartoons about the Islamic Prophet in a Danish newspaper in 2005 and the ensuing demonstration by Danish Muslims. It suggests that rather than simply sparking protests, the 'cartoon controversy' created a space for possible actions and a political platform for Muslims all over the world. Based on a review of the historical development of the national Danish discourse on immigrants, the article conveys how the cartoon controversy became instrumental in transforming this discourse. As a major creative event, it not only ridiculed a dominant religious symbol but simultaneously created a space for the becoming of Muslims in Denmark and beyond.

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Peter Collins and Yulia Egorova

I (Peter) remember sitting in a departmental meeting, doodling, preoccupied with the image of a hospital chapel. I had recently been involved in a research project seeking to document and explain the construction of religious/spiritual space in National Health Service (NHS) acute-care hospitals in the north of England. What was becoming more and more obvious was the growing tension between the distinction that staff and patients were making between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’. Admittedly, this tension was not especially surprising; indeed, it can be understood, in principle, as a reflection of the ambient climate of religiosity in the UK, as in many other Western countries (Flanagan and Jupp 2007; Heelas 2008; Heelas et al. 2004).

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Christina Holmes

This article explores the lack of controversy over genetically modified objects (GMOs) in the daily life of a research laboratory in Canada. Scientific perceptions of GMOs and the types of knowledge valued in scientific research contribute toward an absence of discussion on the wider social implications of GMOs. Technical and epistemic knowledge are crucial for the success of a scientific project, whereas discussion of the social values involved may be allocated to particular settings, people, or research stages. GMOs, within scientific circles, are seen as many individual projects with different goals, rather than as a single object. Therefore, according to this view, it is inappropriate to be opposed to or to support GMOs in general, without first ascertaining the specifics of a particular project. How then are scientists engaged in seemingly local, distinct projects seen as globally defending this technology? Scientific expertise unevenly translates into political voice, transforming into silences as well as debates.

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Yoshiko Nozaki and Mark Selden

Japan's right-wing nationalists have launched three major attacks on school textbooks over the second half of the twentieth century. Centered on the treatment of colonialism and war, the attacks surfaced in 1955, the late 1970s, and the mid-1990s. This article examines three moments in light of Japanese domestic as well as regional and global political contexts to gain insight into the persistent problem of the Pacific War in historical memory and its refraction in textbook treatments. There are striking similarities as well as critical di erences in the ways the attacks on textbooks recurred and in the conditions of political instability.

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Kevin Carrico

How can we as educators address complex and controversial topics in the social sciences without encouraging simplistic responses and self-reproducing binary oppositions? Drawing upon an ethnographic analysis of a first-year writing seminar on the history of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, this article proposes novel approaches to overcome instinctive reactions to contentious topics. Arguing that the experience of controversy produces self-reinforcing binary oppositions that become autopoetically abstracted from the actual topic of discussion, I build upon specific seminar experiences to propose two novel and practical concepts for the pedagogy of controversy: (1) deidentification, which refers to a process of disengagement from the binaries and thus identities that structure and reproduce controversy, and (2) humanisation, which refers to a process of moving beyond abstractions to reidentify with the fundamentally human experience of contentious historical moments. The pedagogy of controversy, I argue, must teach against our conventional identificatory responses to controversy to promote a more nuanced understanding of inherently complex issues.

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J. David Case

The study of historical memory in its various forms is a burgeoning

area of inquiry among historians. The debate over public, official,

government-supported memory and private individual memories

reveals a complex dynamic among myth, memory, and history,

which as Michel Foucault and others have argued, is simply the dominant

form of memory in a society at a given time.1 Some of the most

revealing instances of the intersection between public and private

memory are commemorations and memorial sites where personal

memories are created and sustained within the context of the official

representation of the event and those involved. The constant need to

locate memories within a larger social frame of reference ensures

that supporters of different memories of the same event will directly

and forcefully link images from the present with their memories of

the past, no matter how incongruous these images may appear.

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Adrian van den Hoven

The book, Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews, as re-translated by me and introduced by Ronald Aronson, is not identical to the interviews that appeared in French in Le Nouvel Observateur or in English translation in Dissent and in Telos. Benny Lévy added a seven-page “Presentation” and a twelve-page “The Final Word” to the book; he also divided the interviews in twelve sections and provided each with a heading.