In the third installation of our series, “Making History,” Aragorn Storm Miller speaks with Christina Salinas about her experience as a graduate student in history at the University of Texas at Austin. In the interview, Christina tells us about her childhood spent living near the Texas-Mexico border, the long history of the Texas Border Patrol, and how her research interests have evolved over the course of her undergraduate and graduate career at the University of Texas.
On December 8, 2011, newspapers in Zimbabwe – and Zimbabwe’s diasporas – reported that an unmarked tree in the middle of a busy street in the capital, Harare, had been accidentally knocked down by a city council van.
In March 1865, the U. S. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau for Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to ease the transition between slavery and freedom for 3.5 million newly liberated slaves. The bureau had three main functions—to distribute rations to Southerners who had been loyal to the Union during the Civil War, to establish public schools for black children and adults, and to oversee labor contracts between landowners and black workers.
During our interview Professor Amin was suffering from allergies and his nose was running constantly. He also had several attacks of sneezing. But he was patient and generous enough to continue speaking with me despite it all.
Irfan Habib is an Emeritus Professor of the Dept of History but he still appears daily in the department where he sits in the office of Professor Shireen Moosvi and interacts with all of the students, other professors, Communist party activists and others who move in and out of the office throughout the day. Irfan Habib always provides hospitality to these guest, endless cups of tea and biscuits.
It was some time before I could convince him to sit down with me for a formal interview about his experiences during the 1930s and 1940s in Aligarh. He was very skeptical of the methodology of my research, being as he is, a historian of medieval India and deeply invested in the investigation of documentary sources. Interviews, he reminded me, would only catch a person’s “bias,” and not “The Truth.”
S.M. Mehdi was surprised to see me, but agreed to answer my questions though he cautioned he could not be considered an expert on Aligarh. He told me, instead, of his experiences during partition as a Communist in Bombay. He worked for thirty years in the Soviet Embassy in New Delhi and has been a lifelong Communist.
So freedom is now to be defined against those too poor to deserve its benefits by the edifices and procedures of totalitarianism. What kind of freedom is it, then, that we enjoy in the countries of the West – those exclusive, increasingly well-guarded enclaves of ours?
Much like its eponymous waterway, V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River meanders steadily through the dark reality of postcolonial Africa, alternately depicting minimalist beauty and frightening tension. Like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, subtle prose reveals the timelessness of the continent’s remote corners alongside human corruptibility.
The death of Muammar al-Qaddafi and the end of his rule in Libya marks the end of an era. Our untiring colleague in International History, Jeremi Suri, blogs about the historical background.