AHA Panel: Historians Criticized as Often AWOL From Public Debate Over ‘War on Terror’


Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-12-11

Many historians say a key difference between the Vietnam War and today’s U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is that far fewer members of their profession are stepping forward to be public critics of policies associated with the “war on terror.”

Participants in a panel discussion held here last weekend, at the annual conference of the American Historical Association, said historians’ relative silence about today’s policies stems not from agreement, but from trends in their field that have discouraged their scholarly peers from becoming actively involved in public debates.

They argued that historians in academe need to be doing much more to inform policy makers and sway public opinion on matters such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, by sharing their views with members of Congress, submitting op-eds to local newspapers, giving talks, and reaching out to local activists….READ MORE

January 12, 2011: Haiti Earthquake: One Year Later…

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.




  • In Photos: A Year of Tragedy and Survival in Haiti: Wednesday marks one year since a magnitude-7 earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, killing more than 230,000 people and injuring many more. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11
  • Former President George W. Bush on Facebook: Today, we remember and pray for our friends in Haiti whose lives were lost or disrupted by the tragic events last year. To join us in our work to help rebuild a better Haiti, please visit www.clintonbushhaitifund.org.


  • Haitians recall 2010 quake “hell” as death toll upped: Haiti mourned more than 300,000 victims of its devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a somber, poignant one-year anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty. When the precise 4:53 p.m. one year anniversary of the moment the January 12 catastrophe struck, many in the poor Caribbean country’s rubble-clogged capital recalled with quiet emotion where they had been and how lucky they were to have survived…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • A year after quake, so much undone in Haiti: It took only a half-minute for the earthquake to shatter this island. A year later, the optimism that followed an international outpouring of sympathy, volunteers and money has given way to reality: The problems here are too great to solve in a year’s time. Too much of the skilled labor force perished in the quake; concerns about corruption and the need for planning have slowed the delivery of funds; and bickering over how and where to rebuild to avoid re-creating slums has hampered reconstruction.
    The United Nations, U.S. aid officials and Haiti’s government insist that progress is being made though it’s hard to see amid the widespread devastation. Still, that progress is piecemeal, a reflection of Haitian poverty and institutional weakness before the quake, the scale of devastation after, and the challenge of coordinating an international cast of actors carrying out their own rebuilding objectives, say aid experts…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Haitians turn out for one-year anniversary of quake: The trauma remains fresh for survivors of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Nearly a million remain in tents and other temporary housing.
    Hundreds of white balloons were released into the air, buglers played taps and Haitians sang their national anthem a capella Wednesday afternoon to mark the moment when exactly one year ago a ferocious earthquake destroyed much of the nation’s capital and killed more than 300,000 people.
    The magnitude 7.0 quake, which left the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country reeling, wrecked tens of thousands of homes, hospitals, government buildings and national symbols such as the Roman Catholic cathedral and the presidential palace.
    A year later, nearly a million Haitians remain in tents or other temporary shelter. The death of so many has left gaping holes in Haitian society, and the psychological wounds are still fresh.
    In this fervently religious nation, Wednesday was an official “day of reflection.” To mourn, thousands of Haitians walked miles to reach churches throughout Port-au-Prince, the capital, where priests and ministers extolled survivors to be thankful they were alive and to never forget the dead. In at least one case, a minister also scolded the international community for failing to achieve significant reconstruction…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • One year on, Haiti still in ruins: One year on from the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the massive aid effort has yet to bring stability to the country as cholera, rape and despair take hold. Some $11bn (£7bn) worth of aid has been pledged to the country over the next 10 years, but much of that money has yet to arrive following concerns about government corruption and ongoing riots after November’s disputed election.
    In the centre of Port-au-Prince, the presidential palace still lies in ruins. What was a large, green open space just beyond the palace grounds is nothing but a sea of tents. After all this time, the piles of rocks, wood and mangled metal that were once homes and offices still line the streets. Mountains of it fester between the homes that were spared, like rotten teeth.
    For many, the blame lies firmly at the door of the estimated 4,000 international aid agencies operating in the country. “Nobody knows what they are doing, nobody knows who is sending here, nobody knows how much money they have, nobody knows in what field they are intervening,” says Haitian sociologist and university lecturer Daniel Supplice. “They are all over the place.”… – BBC, 1-12-11
  • Risk of fresh Haiti earthquake could be greater than previously thought: Scientists had thought the Haiti earthquake a year ago released stress on a well-known fault. It didn’t. Instead, it revealed faults that scientists didn’t know existed… – CS Monitor, 1-12-11


  • President Obama on Haiti, One Year Later: As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, we honor the memory of the quarter of a million Haitians who were lost, along with more than one hundred Americans, many United Nations personnel and citizens from dozens of nations. We recall how Americans, civilian and military, joined with people from around the world in one of the largest humanitarian efforts ever attempted. And we continue to be inspired by the Haitian people, and our vibrant Haitian American community, who have faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary courage and faith.
    Since the first moments of the disaster, the United States has helped to rally international support for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction and respond to new challenges, such as the outbreak of cholera and Hurricane Tomas. This global effort, led by the Haitian government, continues today and has been matched by the tremendous compassion of the American people, who in difficult economic times have given generously to help.
    Over the past year, countless lives have been saved and many Haitians affected by the earthquake now have better access to food, water and health care than they did before the disaster. Still, too much rubble continues to clog the streets, too many people are still living in tents, and for so many Haitians progress has not come fast enough. As we have said all along, helping the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere recover from one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike our hemisphere will take years, if not decades.
    So on this day when our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people, my message is the same as it was last year. Haiti can and must lead the way, with a strong vision for its future. The international community must now fulfill the pledges it has made to ensure a strong and sustained long-term effort. And as they forge ahead with the hard work of rebuilding their proud country, the people of Haiti will continue to have an enduring partner in the United States. – WH, 1-12-11
  • Patrick Gaspard: Haiti: One Year Later: Today marks the one year anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti. Nearly a quarter of a million lives were lost, more than three hundred thousand people were injured and more than a million people were left homeless. The President called it a “cruel and incomprehensible” blow to a nation that has known its share of hardship and suffering. None of us will soon forget the images of despair in the days after the earthquake, or the moments of hope as Americans joined together with people from around the world in a massive humanitarian effort.
    This is an important time for us to reflect on the important progress that’s been made, and the many players who have made it possible, while reaffirming the American commitment to Haiti and looking ahead to the work that remains to be done in cooperation with the Haitian people and international partners…. – WH, 1-27-10


  • UCLA associate professor of history Robin Derby: UC Haiti Initiative works to empower students and improve country’s conditions: Living conditions in Haiti have not improved since the aftermath of the quake, according to associate professor of history Robin Derby, who visited Haiti in November. Many people still live in temporary tent camps where there is a lack of infrastructure, jobs and basic necessities, such as water. Derby visited two tent camps – one in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and one on the city’s outskirts.
    “People (in Haiti) are just extremely frustrated,” she said. “They want a return to normalcy.”
    Derby said many Haitians feel promised aid to Haiti from abroad never arrived. Derby and other members of the UCLA community are trying to change that. Like Morrison, Derby is involved with the UC Haiti Initiative, which hopes to strengthen a University of California partnership with the Université d’Etat d’Haiti, Haiti’s main university. The university’s campus was mostly destroyed during the earthquake. The initiative’s goal is to give the Haitian university access to the UC’s resources, including faculty and research…. – Daily Bruin, 1-11-11

Oleg Grabar: Historian Who Studied Islamic Culture, Dies at 81


Source: NYT, 1-12-11

Oleg Grabar, a historian of Islamic art and architecture whose imposingly broad range and analytical subtlety helped transform the Western study of Islamic culture, died Saturday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 81.

Prof. Oleg Grabar

The cause was heart failure, his wife, Terry, said.

Professor Grabar, the son of the eminent Byzantinist Andre Grabar, specialized in the architecture of the seventh- and eighth-century Umayyad dynasty early in his career. In the 1960s he led the excavations at Qasr al-Hayr East in Syria, the site of an early Islamic palace in an area long thought to be a historical blank.

His interests broadened to embrace the Islamic world beyond the Middle East and a wide variety of subjects, including the architecture of Jerusalem under Islamic rule, Arabic and Persian illustrated manuscripts, Islamic ornament and contemporary Islamic architecture.

Many of his books are regarded as classics, notably “The Formation of Islamic Art” (1973) and “Islamic Art and Architecture, 650 to 1250” (1987), written with Richard Ettinghausen for the Pelican History of Art….READ MORE

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