Volume 26, 2015
UCLA Historical Journal
Letter from the Editors
A review of this year's publication from the editor.
Around the twelfth century there was a change in the English concept of their territory, which explains where the legal formulation of England and Britain's inalienability—at the turn of the thirteenth century—came from. The shift of the territorial conceptualization was due to the structural changes of the proto-state during Henry I's reign, the transformation of social identity, from being ethnic-based to territorially-politically-based, and the construction of a proto-national historic corpus that, among others, William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon elaborated. But the key element was Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae, especially King Arthur’s story. He translated the Arthurian Myth from a mythological Breton frame in order to introduce it into the Catholic world of Medieval England. Within this pagan context, the island was thought as a sacred being and because of this, man had no right to modify it, except for those whose right was granted by the numen. Arthur was the only one who had this right to rule and protect the island, a bond that was sealed in his sword Caliburn. The aftermath of this endeavor turned out to be that the sacred bond between Arthur and the island was adopted by the English royalty and nobility and translated to form a juridical bond between the Crown and the British Island, which in turn became an ideological basis for the legal formulation of the inalienability of the British territory.
Little scholarly research has been undertaken on the history of African slavery in Iran in the nineteenth century. What has been written focuses, almost by necessity, on statistical information or on the lives of the wealthy and powerful. Haji Mubarak and Fezzeh Khanum offer a rare opportunity for historians of Iran to reconstruct the biographies of two ordinary slaves. Because they were the slaves of the Shirazi merchant, Mirza ‘Ali-Muhammad, the founder of Babism, surviving Babi and Baha’i chronicles (and oral traditions) include them in their pious histories and record at least part of their lives. At the same time, these histories erase these persons by steadfastly refusing to acknowledge any significance in their presence.
This paper will demonstrate that the recovery of the history of slavery in nineteenth-century Iran, even at the level of individual biographies, is possible. It will also argue that the significance of large numbers of African slaves in Iran during this time has been erased from contemporary Iranian national history. Similarly, the presence of African slaves at the genesis of the Babi religion has been erased from contemporary Baha’i histories.
During both the Boer War (1899-1902) and the Kenya Emergency (1952-1960), British authorities responded to nationalist movements by adopting a policy of total war that included imprisonment of suspected conspirators and civilians alike in overcrowded detention camps with inadequate facilities and high mortality rates. During both conflicts, women activists – Emily Hobhouse in 1901 and Barbara Castle in 1955 – spearheaded campaigns, demanding official, independent inquiries into camp conditions and treatment of detainees. Despite the similarities, the British authorities’ reactions to the two campaigns differed significantly. While the conflicts’ differing lengths and the Empire’s decline influenced British policy on camp conditions in both cases, ultimately, the British authorities’ willingness to address atrocities occurring in civilian prison camps during the Boer War, yet hesitance to do so in Kenya, was determined largely by the race of the detainees.
Book Review: Rebecca M. Kluchin, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America: 1950-1980.
Kluchin’s Fit to Be Tied explores the neo-eugenic debate about sterilization in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. Using sources from the popular media and court cases, she sets up a conflict between women deemed reproductively fit and unfit. Moreover, throughout this work she ably interweaves constructions of race, gender, and class into the neo-eugenic sterilization debate about fit and unfit women.
Review of Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late Medieval Champagne. By Sara McDougall. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. Pp. 216. $55, hardback.