Historical

Friday essay: who was Mary Magdalene? Debunking the myth of the penitent prostitute

Who was Mary Magdalene? What do we know about her? And how do we know it? Dorothy Ann Lee The Conversation These questions resurface with the release of a new movie, Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara in the titular role. The question of how we know about her is a relatively simple one. She appears in a number of early Christian texts associated with the ministry of Jesus. These texts comprise Gospels written in the first and second century of ... Read More »

Essays On Air: Joan of Arc, our one true superhero

One need not be a parent of a young child, as I am, to be conscious of the full-blown resurgence of the superhero in contemporary popular culture. Ali Alizadeh The Conversation But there is more to a hero than courage and strength. On today’s episode of Essays On Air, the audio version of The Conversation’s Friday essay series, I’m reading my essay on Joan of Arc, our one true superhero. She’s been depicted as a national heroine and a nationalist symbol ... Read More »

India’s confidential memo on the Tibetans leaked

Sino-Indian relations span back in time to ancient history. However, modern bilateral relations began in 1950 when India was amongst the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China as a legitimate nation state. Dorje Shugden Today, India and China are two of the most populous nations and the fastest growing economies in the world. Although the relationship between these two countries have generally been cordial, it has become strained at times due to unresolved border issues and high ... Read More »

Four key dates that shaped the US gun debate

It’s one of the most divisive issues in American society, once again brought to the fore because of a deadly mass shooting. So what is the basis for the right to bear arms? And what key events have helped shape the debate? Roland Hughes BBC The very beginning 15 December 1791 It makes sense to start with the date the Second Amendment to the US constitution was ratified. Here, 27 simple words set the path to gun ownership in the ... Read More »

Fall of Troy: the legend and the facts

The legendary ancient city of Troy is very much in the limelight this year: a big budget co-production between the BBC and Netflix: Troy, Fall of a City, recently launched, while Turkey designated 2018 the “Year of Troy” and plans a year of celebration, including the opening of a new museum on the presumed site. Mariacarmela Montesanto The Conversation So what do we know about the city, ruins of which have been painstakingly excavated over the past 150 years? The ... Read More »

Timor Leste Is an International Intervention Success Story

If the West truly believes in the power of democracy, it must commit to intervening where necessary and providing sufficient ongoing support to see success achieved. John Watts The National Interest As Western appetite for international intervention is eroded by growing nationalist and isolationist sentiment, Timor Leste presents a timely reminder of the value of defending the freedoms of the oppressed. It is one of Southeast Asia’s smallest, poorest and newest nations. But it is also its most democratic and, ... Read More »

What today’s anti-immigrant populists could learn from Homer about kindness to strangers

Troy, a new BBC adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, shows the enduring interest we have in Ancient Greek myths. Aleardo Zanghellini The Conversation Today, Homer’s epic works remain both politically and ethically relevant. The Greek poet’s insight into why law and legality matter is particularly enlightening in the context of contemporary debates about immigration, which loom large amid the rise of right-wing populism on both sides of the Atlantic. Those who object to immigration and demonise immigrants argue that the West’s ... Read More »

Poland-Israel Holocaust dispute hits the court of viral YouTube videos

Amid the diplomatic feud over Poland’s new ‘anti-defamation’ law, Jewish activists push back on the Polish government for ‘white-washing’ anti-Semitism By MATT LEBOVIC The Times of Israel In crisp black-and-white film footage, policemen with Stars of David on their armbands beat up elderly Jews on the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto. Elsewhere in the open-air prison, the Nazi-appointed Jewish cops herd crowds of ghetto inmates from one point to another and help move withered corpses to mass graves. Although these scenes ... Read More »

‘Britain Would Collapse If It Tried to Pay Back the Money it Drained From India’

Britain drained more than 9 trillion pounds from India over 173 years, says economist Utsa Patnaik. Newsclick Report Britain would collapse if it tried to pay back the money it drained from India, eminent economist Utsa Patnaik said at a conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on Wednesday. Delivering the inaugural lecture at the three-day Sam Moyo Memorial Conference on “Land and Labour Questions in the Global South”, Utsa Patnaik said that the estimated drain from India to Britain ... Read More »

Dutch parliament recognizes 1915 Armenian ‘genocide’

The Dutch parliament has voted to recognize the deaths of Armenians during World War I as genocide. The decision is likely to enrage Turkey amid already strained relations with the Netherlands Chase Winter (with AFP, dpa) DW The Dutch parliament has overwhelmingly voted to recognize the World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide, in a vote that may stoke further tensions with Turkey. Dutch lawmakers voted 142 to 3 “that parliament in no uncertain terms speak about the Armenian genocide.” ... Read More »

Turkish genealogy database fascinates, frightens Turks

During the days when Turkey still hoped to join the European Union, its people were becoming willing to question their ethnic and religious ancestry. Fehim Tastekin Al Monitor Since then, the country has reverted to a time when people were disgraced and denigrated, with the government’s blessings, as “crypto-Armenians.” Hrant Dink was the editor of the Armenian-language newspaper Agos in 2004 when he wrote that Sabiha Gokcen, the first female military pilot of the Turkish Republic, was of Armenian parentage. Because of this and other articles he penned, Dink found himself ... Read More »

For what shall it profit a city if it loses its civic soul? A plea to preserve Melbourne’s Fed Square

For 150 years Melburnians dreamed of a square, a great ceremonial space where people could relax, celebrate, protest or simply enjoy the company of their fellow citizens. Graeme Davison The Conversation They had a word for their dream – a civic square. The word “civic” means “of the city” or “belonging to the citizens”. What they wanted was not a market, a park, an arena or a mall – Melbourne had plenty of those – but a grand piazza where ... Read More »

South Africa’s Healthy Democracy

Why Zuma’s Resignation Is a Good Sign Democracy in South Africa is in tatters. By Daniel de Kadt, Evan Lieberman, and Philip Martin Foreign Affairs Or at least that’s the widespread view following President Jacob Zuma’s forced resignation on February 14, which ended his almost-nine-year tenure in office. Although South Africans are largely united in celebrating Zuma’s departure, a litany of scandals, allegations of corruption, and a perceived hollowing-out of institutions have led many to conclude that the post-apartheid project under the African National Congress (ANC) has ... Read More »

Who Owns the Elgin Marbles?

“They were created in a short time for all time. Each one of them, in its beauty, was even then and at once antique, but in the freshness of its vigor it is, even to the present day, recent and newly wrought.” Patricia Vigderman The New York Times Thus Plutarch described the buildings on the Acropolis as a showcase of Periclean Athens. Although he was writing half a millennium after the Parthenon was built, he touched on the essence of ... Read More »

Michele Renouf investigated over Holocaust remarks at neo-Nazi rally in Germany

Berlin: German police are investigating an Australian-born British woman for suspected incitement after she questioned the Holocaust during a far-right protest in the eastern city of Dresden. The Canberra Times AAP A spokeswoman for Dresden police says Michele Renouf was one of two people being investigated for remarks made at the neo-Nazi rally on Saturday commemorating those killed in the 1945 Allied bombing of the… Videos of the rally posted online show Renouf saying the only Holocaust perpetrated in Europe was ... Read More »

Museum of Australian Democracy exhibition looks at migration through Holocaust survivors’ eyes

The story begins with a toy koala – furry, life-sized and huggable – and ends with the poignant reminders of the bottomless traumas of the Holocaust. Sally Pryor The Canberra Times But in exploring the different experiences of migration to Australia, an exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in Canberra has a single shining theme: human resilience. In 1949, an eight-year-old girl named Isobel Saxelby was presented with a toy koala when she arrived in ... Read More »