Later this week we will have the first post from Alisha Baginski (follow her on Twitter at @BAGINS_), Peace and Change’s student intern, who will be unveiling a digital project she created using StoryMap JS. Before the post debuts, I thought that I would introduce our readers to the digital tool that she is using and its applications in the classroom and beyond.
StoryMap JS is an open-source tool that allows users to create web-based, multimedia-rich narratives that emphasize the importance of geography. Developed at Northwestern University’s Knight Lab, the tool can be used by those looking for a simple means of telling a story ground in space. Built using Knight Lab’s Gigapixel, StoryMap JS also allows for the creation of media rich stories that incorporate videos as well as photographs, maps, works of art and any other image file.
Numerous news organizations, such as The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, and CNBC, have used StoryMap JS maps to report on events around the globe. However, the tool is not intended for journalists alone and has seen significant use in the classroom. At Colorado State University, students under Dr. Robert Jordan have created impressive projects using StoryMap JS, such as this student project that tracked indigenous language in North and South America.
Because of the relative ease of access and engaging interface, StoryMap JS is a tool with potential for both educators and professionals. We at Peace and Change are excited by the opportunity to publish using the tool and introduce it to our readership.
As one of the program co-chairs of “Perspectives on War, Peace, and Religion” I was delighted and relieved that our organization of panels among disparate topics frequently produced unexpected connections and lively conversations. Leilah Danielson’s keynote address, “Supernaturalism and Peace Activism: Expanding the Boundaries of Peace History,” raised key questions. She suggested the need for historians to overcome the binary of natural and supernatural or secular and sacred in telling the stories of peace activists. Using her own research on A.J. Muste she explained how existing frameworks led her to see some information as relevant and some information as irrelevant. Danielson found her evidence of Muste’s non-rational/supernatural interest and experience as generally irrelevant to her framework for writing about his significance as the leader of the peace movement in the United States. The conference theme encouraged her to revisit the question of what evidence is relevant. There were numerous presenters who wrestled with this issue when they found that existing historical frameworks did not adequately support the complexity of the stories revealed by the evidence of their research. Peace activism, it seems, requires ongoing negotiation of spiritual values and the messy demands of faithfulness to relationships as revealed by life stories of activists from many religious traditions.
I also learned a lot about expanding our perspectives on spaces, places and sources for peace history. The peaceful protest of injustice in public squares and religious buildings from 19th and 20th century Frankfurt Germany to 21st century Cairo Egypt raised my awareness of how places are themselves sources for peace history. Other new approaches to sources included social media from Tahrir square in 2011 and letters to the NAACP in the 1930s and 1940s seeking help in challenging police brutality. I liked the fact that presentations throughout the conference demonstrated the value of the expanded definition of peace research that now includes not only direct violence in state foreign and domestic relations but also indirect violence in matters of economic and civil rights. The conference presenters demonstrated that “expanding the boundaries of peace history” is a work in progress. I hope to see more work on women as peace activists and more gender analysis of both women’s and men’s peace activism.
In June 2016 Newcastle University and Northumbria University – both located in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – will jointly host a conference entitled “Two Centuries of Peacemaking”. The event will mark the bicentenary of the foundation of the (London) Peace Society whilst also relating to two other anniversaries: the centenary of Britain’s enactment of conscription during the First World War, and the run-up to the semi-centenary of Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle (where he received an honorary doctorate).
Conference papers will address a wide range of issues in peace history, examining the role of peace activism, war resistance and non-violence in the past and in the present. The organizers warmly welcome proposals for papers and panels. Abstracts of 200 words and brief biographical notes should be submitted to email@example.com by December 11, 2015. Further information is available via the following link:
I recently came across a unique, and very useful, digital archive documenting the history of San Francisco called FoundSF. The archive is a wiki – a website that is maintained and edited through the collaborative processes of its users – that catalogs and presents historical artifacts from the San Francisco area. It contains digitized newspapers, videos, and pictures of San Francisco and the communities that call it home. The themes of the collection found on FoundSF range from broad discussions on race, gender, and the area’s ecology, to remembrances of San Francisco theme parks and attractions.
Perhaps to the surprise of few, there is much space dedicated to the various protest movements that rocked San Francisco over the latter half of the twentieth-century. In fact, a certain rebelliousness pervades the entire archive, with many of the conventions of impartiality ignored. As the curators point out, “FoundSF does not have a mission to present a ‘neutral point of view.’ Instead, we are focused on presenting real artifacts of history, and some of the best of these are highly biased and provocative.”
Although one should not take what is written on FoundSF as the gospel truth – and let’s be honest, most of the readers of Peace and Change are used to giving their sources a careful inspection – the documents held in the archive are fascinating.
For example, there are interviews with activists that highlight the intersection of the Gay Rights movement with pro-FSLN activism in the 1970s and 1980s.
Video interview: Chris Carlsson, edited by Joe Caffentzis
I am writing to request your participation in what I believe will be a significant publication for those of us interested in the history of the peace movement. I recently agreed to edit Opposition to War: An Encyclopedia of United States Peace and Antiwar Movements for ABC-CLIO. The best way to ensure the highest quality publication is through enlisting expert scholars as contributors. This work will include substantial entries ranging from 300-4,000 words, an introductory essay, chronology, general bibliography, cross-referenced entries, and photographs.
I would greatly appreciate your participation in this project to whatever degree you are able. Information regarding this publication (such as available entries, essay length, guidelines, and compensation) is available on the website http://www.uspeaceencyclopedia.com. For anyone interested in writing, please submit a brief CV highlighting your scholarly activity, and a list of the available entries you would like to contribute. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have either through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (989-774-3374). Please respond at your earliest convenience.
Chair, Department of History
Central Michigan University
Editor, Opposition to War: An Encyclopedia of United States Peace and Antiwar Movements
Be sure to reserve some time in January to check out “World War I and the Gendered Subtexts of War Trauma,” a special issue of Peace & Change guest edited by Jerry Lembcke. This issue got its start at the “World War I: Dissent, Activism, & Transformation” conference at Georgian Court University in October 2014, where Jerry spotted fascinating thematic continuities across papers on the representation of shell shock victims across genres and times–from the medical journal The Lancet, the feminist writings of Jeanne Halbwachs, and canonical works of modernist fiction by Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway to recent commentary in The Washington Post on traumatic brain injury among veterans who continue to return from the “War on Terror.”
To frame these papers within a broader historical context, conference organizer Scott Bennett conducted an interview via videoconference with keynote speakers Harriet Hyman Alonso and Adam Hochschild. These two prominent voices on the history of Great War and its aftermath discussed their most pressing concerns about the history of of the Great War, its profound human costs, current issues in World War I historiography, representations of veterans of recent wars, and reflections on the centenary commemorations of World War I which, they say, could use more detailed, nuanced histories of women’s experiences of war and peacemaking and of the heroism of dissidents and war resisters of all genders.
This piece of 1919 sheet music titled “The Shell Shock Shake” is not among the representations of shell shock that appear in the special issue, but it’s a fascinating artifact from the Library of Congress digital collections that captures an attempt to put the indescribably human cost of the war into familiar cultural language, perhaps to begin coming to an understanding of the social meaning of “shell shock” in the postwar world, where politics were settled (albeit temporarily) at Versailles while the internal worlds of psychologically injured soldiers remained indefinitely tumultuous.