Thursday, 28 May 2015

History Now: International History News (Includes Canada)

It's been a busy spring for me personally but also professionally. While I've been working like a dog, (a small pug I think), let's see what's been making the news the last few months in local and world history.

First, a tip of the pink stetson to Calgary! 

It's the 25th anniversary of the Calgary Pride Festival. The festival and the events surrounding it (including the parade) is run by Calgary Pride. The CPF is a not-for-profit organization that exists to promote equality and acceptance of Calgary’s LGBTQA community. My friend Kevin Allen wrote in the Gay History Project blog that Calgary’s first “Pride Week” started as a weekend of workshops in 1988.  In 1990, Calgary’s 3rd Annual “Pride Festival” had a political rally that drew 400 at Memorial Park, on the steps of the library. The first real parade was in 1991, and was actually part of the 4th Annual Pride Festival. This year's parade will be September 6 down 9 Avenue SE to SW downtown.

We thank you: Stephen Lock, Nancy Miller & Richard Gregory: 1990 Pride Rally Organizers. From Gay History.

Why do I know so much about Queer (Gay) history in my hometown? I'm one of the researchers for the Gay History Project and will be presenting at the Glitter Gala next month. Come have fun and hear me make history interesting!

I'm On the Road to Stonehenge

Next, I want you to take some deep breaths before you read this next news story.

 The brilliant people who are road planners in the UK are hoping to get a traffic tunnel dug under Stonehenge. In 2013, a major roadway near the giant rock circle was partly closed, because it was damaging the site. However, traffic has been insane as there is a major road corridor near the site. The answer: build a tunnel: The BBC Reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the plan to "tackle the bottleneck at Stonehenge" would "get the funds it needs". English Heritage, which runs the Stonehenge site, has previously described the bottleneck road as "highly detrimental" to the ancient monument. Senior Druid King Arthur Pendragon has also backed the idea of a tunnel, but only if there are "cast-iron" guarantees that any human remains found "are reinterred as close as possible to what should have been their final resting place".

A group that advises World Heritage body Unesco has warned a tunnel could have an "adverse impact" on the Stonehenge landscape. In a letter seen by the BBC, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) said it wanted a solution that "respects and maintains" the value of the "iconic and unique site". Ralph Smyth of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said it was "calling for a longer tunnel", as the proposed tunnel was too short and would create two "huge holes" which would affect the landscape around the World Heritage site. where's the MacDonald's?

Screw You Labour History

Let's head back to Canada for the next bit with some serious controversy. The Museum of History in Ottawa has announced that they are excluding a display on the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike will be excluded from the renovated areas, but officials promise the labour movement will still have a home in its halls.

According to a document obtained by the Ottawa Star in response to an access to information request, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., saw there were few risks (???) surrounding the decision to shut down the exhibit.

Here is the part that pisses me off...

“Changes can be made to the module with few political or institutional risks,” reads the summary of a draft renovation risk assessment, revised Aug. 22, 2014. "Some comments by academics cite the closure as evidence of the museum’s lack of interest in working class history . . . . The removal of this module represents minimal risk to the museum, though it will entail communications challenges to the academic community,” says the document.

OK - WAIT A MINUTE. So academics are the only people interested in working class/labour issues? Classes of school kids that have it in their curriculum to learn about the history of the strike and other labour issues are dismissed as "academics"? Thank you for your condescending air. Sorry that as a working class person you want to know more about our history, or recall how mostly soldiers were the ones striking as they were promised things the govt. and businesses never delivered for dying on the fields in WWI.

Canadian Museum of History
Go fuck yourself History Museum. Never thought I'd say that.
The exhibit, which opened in 1999, was modelled after a meeting room in the Labour Temple on James St. in Winnipeg, where union members met to debate, organize and vote in the months leading up to, and during, the massive strike. It's being removed to make room for the Canadian History Hall, which is scheduled to open July 1, 2017. I'll be dammed if I go.

Because 30,000 people is just not that important. Sorry guys.

The Canadian Museum of History has come under public scrutiny in the past couple of years, following a controversial change in name — it was formerly known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization — and mandate that had critics accusing the Conservative government of using the Crown Corporation to rewrite history in its image.

Chinese Tomb Reveals Awesome Bling

Lastly, something less depressing and way more flashy. After workers discovered the brick tomb by chance at a construction site in Nanjing, China, archaeologists from Nanjing Museum and the Jiangning District Museum of Nanjing City excavated it back in 2008. Their findings, originally published in Chinese in the journal Wenwu, have recently been translated into English and published in a recent issue of the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. (Reported by History TV)

The archaeologists found that water had damaged the tomb, but the occupant’s skeletal remains remained inside. In addition, the tomb’s interior sparkled with gold baubles, including hairpins, bracelets and a small fragrance box. All are intricately engraved in designs of lotus petals, chrysanthemums and flames, and all are inlaid with precious gems, including rubies, sapphires and turquoise.

Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics
The owner of the tomb had a beautifully adorned but challenging life. Her story really tells a lot about women in Traditional China, their lives and their deaths.
Two stone inscriptions, or epitaphs, found inside the tomb identify its occupant as one Lady Mei, and tell the story of her life in Ming Dynasty China more than five centuries ago. Born around 1430, she was probably a teenager when she married the decades-older Mu Bin, a duke of Qian who ruled Yunnan province in southwestern China. A former concubine, she would probably have been lower in status than Mu Bin’s two other wives.

Ten months after she gave birth to a son, Mu Zong, her husband died. According to her epitaphs, Lady Mei was then only 21 years old, “unwashed and unkempt, and called herself the survivor.” She dedicated herself to the care of her infant son, and began carefully grooming him to become a third-generation duke. Among other things, she “urged him to study hard mornings and evenings, and taught him loyalty and filial devotion, as well as services of duty.”

When it was time for Mu Zong to take the reins in Yunnan, Lady Mei traveled with him to meet the Chinese emperor, who was impressed by Lady Mei and later awarded her the title “Dowager Duchess.” Her son gave her much respect, and turned to her for advice on being a judicious leader and a faithful representative of the emperor. Specifically, as the epitaphs relate, she provided Mu Zong with “strategies for bringing peace to the barbarian tribes and pacifying faraway lands.”
Lady Mei was only in her mid-40s when she died of illness in 1474. She was brought to Nanjing for burial; the city served as the capital of China during the early Ming Dynasty. The emperor himself apparently ordered officials to prepare for Lady Mei’s funeral and burial. Meanwhile, the epitaphs describe widespread mourning for the Dowager Duchess back in her son’s province: “On the day of her death, the people of Yunnan, military servicemen or civilians, old and young, all mourned and grieved for her as if their own parents had passed.