An Uncertain Glory
An Uncertain Glory
David Vine, author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, writes about the continuing saga of the Chagossians at the Huffington Post. Deported to pave the way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the Chagossians still endure poverty and homesickness or sagren. To learn more about the history and current activities of Diego Garcia, read this sample from from Vine’s book.
This month marks the fortieth anniversary of the final deportations, when the last boatload of Chagossians arrived 1,200 miles from their homes, on the western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. In those same forty years, the base on British-controlled Diego Garcia helped launch the Afghan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA’s secret “rendition” program for captured terrorist suspects.
The history of the base, which the U.S. military calls the “Footprint of Freedom,” dates to the 1950s and 1960s. By then, Chagossians had been living in the previously uninhabited Chagos islands for almost 200 years, since their ancestors arrived as enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In 1965, after years of secret negotiations, Britain agreed to separate Chagos from colonial Mauritius (contravening UN decolonization rules) to create a new colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory. In a secret 1966 agreement, Britain gave U.S. officials base rights on Diego Garcia and agreed to take those “administrative measures” necessary to remove the nearly 2,000 Chagossians in exchange for $14 million in secret U.S. payments.
Beginning in 1968, any Chagossians who left Chagos for medical treatment or regular vacations in Mauritius were barred from returning home, marooning them often without family members and almost all their possessions. British officials soon began restricting food and medical supplies to Chagos. Anglo-American officials designed a public relations plan aimed at, as one British bureaucrat said, “maintaining the fiction” that Chagossians were migrant laborers rather than a people with roots in Chagos for five generations or more. Another British official called them “Tarzans” and “Man Fridays.”
In 1971, the U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking admiral, Elmo Zumwalt, issued the final deportation order in a three-word memo ringing of Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz:
“Absolutely must go.”
Read more at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-vine/forty-years-of-heartbreak_b_3344190.html
This weekend the acclaimed documentary Alias Ruby Blade will premiere at the Tribeca film festival. The documentary unravels the history behind the new nation in East Timor after its struggle for independence. The documentary features PUP author Geoffrey Robinson who has written a book about East Timor. Robinson authored “If you Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor. For showtime information click here.
Read a review for the documentary from This Week in New York below.
Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution is an intimate, involving documentary that goes behind the scenes of East Timor’s battle for independence, structured like a gripping thriller with a decidedly personal edge. In 1991, Australian Kirsty Sword went to East Timor as part of a team posing as tourists while actually making a secret film about the embattled Indonesian island. Almost immediately, the Australian teacher and activist found herself right in the middle of the violent struggle as bullets flew all around her and her team, but they kept the cameras rolling, compiling amazing footage that helped alert the world as to what was happening there. Sword soon became a courier for the revolution, adopting the spy name Ruby Blade and smuggling in notes and, eventually, electronic equipment to jailed resistance leader Kay Rala “Xanana” Gusmão, who was serving a life sentence in Jakarta’s Cipinang Prison. Armed with a camera, Sword took remarkable footage during those years, most of which has never before been shown to the public; she opened up her archives for husband-and-wife documentarians Tanya Ager Meillier and Alex Meillier and speaks extensively with them in the film, relating her involvement with the independence movement — which included falling in love with the charismatic Xanana. The Meilliers also talk with such key resistance fighters as Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta and diplomat Constancio Pinto as well as historian and human rights activist Geoffrey Robinson and Inside Indonesia editor Pat Walsh, who share their stories about the Indonesian occupation that lasted from 1975 to 1999, followed by a UN-sponsored referendum for independence that led to yet more horrors. But Sword, who narrates much of the film, and Xanana, who appears primarily in archival footage and photographs, never gave up their dream of a free, democratic East Timor while also considering a life together. As much as Alias Ruby Blade delves into the political situation in East Timor, it’s really about how a young, strong woman followed her heart and made a difference in a faraway part of the globe. Alias Ruby Blade will have its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it’s part of the Documentary Competition. (By the way, the less you know about how things turned out in East Timor, the more exciting the film is, so don’t read up on it before going to one of the four screenings.)
Learn more about the film here.
Renowned historian Ayesha Jalal will visit the Hindi Urdu Flagship at University of Texas Austin today to launch her new book The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide. Jalal will give a seminar on her book at 3.30pm on April 11 in the Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118. The seminar is free and open to the public.
For details, please check out the Hindi Urdu Flagship site: http://hindiurduflagship.org/2013/04/renowned-historian-ayesha-jalal-to-launch-new-book-at-huf/
Hope you have a chance to see the heads while they are on display outside of the Woodrow Wilson School. They really are impressive. We tracked their arrival and assembly many months ago and are proud to publish Weiwei-isms, too.
In late December Justin Lin, the first non-westerner to be chief economist of the World Bank and the author of the book The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off, gave two public lectures in the UK. During his lectures at Overseas Development Institute and London School of Economics, Lin discussed his thoughts on the state of China, the economy, and his book.
You can see both of his lectures here:
We have just seen early copies of Weiwei-isms. It is a terrific little book and would make a great stocking stuffer for fans of Ai Weiwei or those who appreciate bons mots on art, human rights, the digital revolution, and countless other subjects.
–Ai Weiwei, “China’s censorship can never defeat the internet,” The Guardian, April 15, 2012
Gangnam style has been taking over the world in recent weeks so it isn’t too surprising that it’s finally filtered into the university press world. The gauntlet has now been thrown down in this delightful homage to pop culture by Ai Weiwei and friends. Who among our authors can top it?
Edited by Larry Warsh
FACT: “Farming began in Bali with the arrival of the Austronesians, who colonized the Indonesian archipelago between 4,500 and 3,000 years ago. The Austronesians were farmers and fishermen whose agricultural assemblage included pigs, dogs, and chickens; root and tree crops such as coconuts, bananas, taro, and bamboo; and a tool technology that included stone adzes.”
Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali
by J. Stephen Lansing
Along rivers in Bali, small groups of farmers meet regularly in water temples to manage their irrigation systems. They have done so for a thousand years. Over the centuries, water temple networks have expanded to manage the ecology of rice terraces at the scale of whole watersheds. Although each group focuses on its own problems, a global solution nonetheless emerges that optimizes irrigation flows for everyone. Did someone have to design Bali’s water temple networks, or could they have emerged from a self-organizing process?
Perfect Order—a groundbreaking work at the nexus of conservation, complexity theory, and anthropology—describes a series of fieldwork projects triggered by this question, ranging from the archaeology of the water temples to their ecological functions and their place in Balinese cosmology. Stephen Lansing shows that the temple networks are fragile, vulnerable to the cross-currents produced by competition among male descent groups. But the feminine rites of water temples mirror the farmers’ awareness that when they act in unison, small miracles of order occur regularly, as the jewel-like perfection of the rice terraces produces general prosperity. Much of this is barely visible from within the horizons of Western social theory.
The fruit of a decade of multidisciplinary research, this absorbing book shows that even as researchers probe the foundations of cooperation in the water temple networks, the very existence of the traditional farming techniques they represent is threatened by large-scale development projects.
We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8186.pdf
This is the set-up at a different location, but you can imagine this is pretty much what happened here on Princeton campus a few weeks ago. The exhibit of Zodiac Heads is just a few steps from our office and we are gearing up for the release of Weiwei-isms later this year.
The Comparative Urban Studies Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C. recently hosted author Daniel A. Bell for a great discussion around his recent book, The Spirit of Cities: Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age, co-authored with Avner de-Shalit.
Bell was joined by John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University. This event was also co-sponsored by the Program on America and the Global Economy and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. You can download the full audio podcast and PowerPoint presentation on the event page on the Woodrow Wilson Center site.
Do you have any questions for Daniel A. Bell or Avner de-Shalit about cities? Let us know in the comments section!
FACT: “The Chinese empire was established in 221 BCE, when the state of Qin unified the Chinese world after centuries of intensive interstate warfare. The nascent empire was then roughly contemporary with the Maurya Empire in India and with the Hellenistic and Roman empires in the Mediterranean area. The Chinese empire ended with the proclamation of the Republic in 1912 CE, almost simultaneously with the final collapse of three major empires in the West: the Ottoman, the Habsburg, and the Romanov.”
Established in 221 BCE, the Chinese empire lasted for 2,132 years before being replaced by the Republic of China in 1912. During its two millennia, the empire endured internal wars, foreign incursions, alien occupations, and devastating rebellions—yet fundamental institutional, sociopolitical, and cultural features of the empire remained intact. The Everlasting Empire traces the roots of the Chinese empire’s exceptional longevity and unparalleled political durability, and shows how lessons from the imperial past are relevant for China today.
Yuri Pines demonstrates that the empire survived and adjusted to a variety of domestic and external challenges through a peculiar combination of rigid ideological premises and their flexible implementation. The empire’s major political actors and neighbors shared its fundamental ideological principles, such as unity under a single monarch—hence, even the empire’s strongest domestic and foreign foes adopted the system of imperial rule. Yet details of this rule were constantly negotiated and adjusted. Pines shows how deep tensions between political actors including the emperor, the literati, local elites, and rebellious commoners actually enabled the empire’s basic institutional framework to remain critically vital and adaptable to ever-changing sociopolitical circumstances. As contemporary China moves toward a new period of prosperity and power in the twenty-first century, Pines argues that the legacy of the empire may become an increasingly important force in shaping the nation’s future trajectory.
“Deeply researched, packed with detail, and bold in scope and analysis, The Everlasting Empire offers a compact yet profound interpretation of the ideological foundations of Chinese political culture. Reflecting on imperial China through its cycles of unity and disintegration from antiquity to the present, this magisterial contribution to empire studies and global history comes at a pivotal moment in time.”—Martin Kern, Princeton University
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9723.pdf
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