Archives for category: politics

beach life beach chair strandkorb via Flikr CommonsWhile I was eating oysters in Tasmania, some of my history colleagues were busy on all the medias. The 26th of January provides an annual a bumper crop of #publichist in ‘Straya (not collected here) but when parliament is out of session and people are on the beach and bored editors are looking for copy, it seems historians can be relied upon to comment on most things. Trusty historians. Where would we be without them? This time with choice quotations.

  • Kate Fullagar on symbols as gateways and how not to begin an email (“History Lesson”, 16 Jan, 2018 – http://www.katefullagar.com)

    How friendly can one be with one’s former kidnapper?

  • Alecia Simmonds (sorry “‘World-renowned historian, Alecia Simmonds’) chatting with the ABC’s Tim Brunero about a not un-important 18thC dude who put pen on paper a lot (The gorgeous letters of Matthew Flinders, date not particularly clear, Tim Brunero on Soundcloud)

    He really flirts with her, but he can’t go through with it

  • Alecia Simmonds (again) (Tennis has a gender problem and it doesn’t have to be like this, 26 Jan, 2018, Sydney Morning Herald)

    I spent my childhood in an intimate imagined dialogue with every female tennis player on the circuit: beguiled by Arancha Sanchez-Vicario and her exotic double-barrelled name, infatuated by Monica Seles’ primal grunts and convinced of the physical superiority of lesbians by Martina Navratilova’s speed.

  • Paul Kramer posing some alternative questions we can ask about racism and immigration in the US, but more widely applicable (Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Racism represents an American Tradition 22 Jan 2018, New York Times and the longer, less trimmed edition)

    Elites in the United States and elsewhere — long before Donald Trump’s presidency — have long known they could sustain their power by capitalizing on, deepening and, where necessary, inventing divisions between self and other, friend and enemy.

And if you have read this far, your reward is my entreaty to do yourself a favour and read Charlotte Higgins’ piece on the wonderful Mary Beard and what it is to be an academic in the public sphere and how lives and careers don’t run along a smooth logical path and how to make public discourse better than it is.

  • Charlotte Higgins, The Cult of Mary Beard, 30 Jan 2018, The Guardian

    This is also how she teaches – with an unusually sincere attachment to the principle that the pedagogical process should be rooted in an encounter, a relationship and a dialogue.

    One reason Beard is so widely beloved is that her interventions in public life – whether one agrees with her or not – offer an alternative mode of discourse, one that people are hungry for: a position that is serious and tough in argument, but friendly and humorous in manner, and one that, at a time when disagreements quickly become shrill or abusive, insists on dialogue.

 

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TournesGlobal

I’ve written a chapter (co-authored with Meng-Hsuan Chou) in a new book from Berghahn, edited by L. Tournès and G. Scott-Smith and titled Global Exchanges: Scholarships and Transnational Circulations in the Modern World.

The book aims to examine the politics and efficacy of international scholarship schemes and our chapter focuses on the long history of the Rhodes scholarships. There’s a lot (a lot!) to say about that history, and our chapter is only the first attempt at a general analysis of the way in which the scheme shaped the lives of those who received it in the twentieth century. Beginning by placing the foundation of the scholarships in their historical context, we go on to examine three basic issues that underpin most international exchange programs: first, the geographic distribution of award; second, gender parity in award; and, third, the long-term geographic mobility of scholars. Working with publicly accessible data on Rhodes scholars as published in the Register of Rhodes Scholars, we bring together historical and quantitative methods to identify patterns of continuity, change, and regional diversity in the management and effect of the scheme.

Here is an excerpt from the section on geographic mobility:

Geographic mobility is at the heart of contemporary debate concerning knowledge exchange and generation. The assumption is that mobility enables scholars to make new contacts and acquire different knowledge that could lead to the acquisition of cultural and social capital, and opportunities for new collaboration and possible innovation. Hence, states encourage the mobility of scientists, scholars and students via funding support and through the reduction of administrative barriers to entry. The Rhodes scheme has traditionally brought selected participants to Oxford, envisioning that they would likely return to their countries of election and take up public positions of leadership.

However, how far this has actually been the pattern for scholars has not been systematically examined. In order to track the geographic mobility of Rhodes scholars across the twentieth century, we therefore developed three indicators: (a) those who made their careers at home; (b) those who made their careers both at home and abroad; and (c) those who principally made their careers outside their country of election.

Geographical Mobility of Rhodes Scholars 1913–1983 (in percentage)

Geographical Mobility of Rhodes Scholars 1913–1983 (in percentage)

As this table shows, the majority of scholars elected in the years analyzed established their careers in their countries of election, with limited mobility to some mobility (more than seventy-five percent of all cohorts for all coded years). Scholars with extensive mobility, who established their careers outside of their countries of election, have generally remained in the minority (around twenty to twenty-five percent of their cohorts). However, since 1913, it is evident that the percentage of scholars in this category has been steadily increasing. We believe that it is likely that more recent cohorts, especially those from the late 1990s onward, may have still greater geographic mobility patterns than earlier cohorts.

One of the difficulties of this data is that it collapses the particular local and cultural contexts that shape patterns of behavior in different countries. To provide more fine-grained differentiation between the election constituencies, we have therefore disaggregated the geographic mobility patterns of Rhodes scholars who have been elected from the United States (a dominant cohort for most years) in comparison to those who were from other election regions.

Geographical Mobility of US vs. non US Rhodes Scholars (in percentage)

Geographical Mobility of US vs. non US Rhodes Scholars (in percentage)

The above table reveals several striking patterns. First, Rhodes scholars from the United States have been more likely (about twice as likely) to spend part of their careers at home than their counterparts from other election regions. Second, while very few US scholars established their professional careers abroad, many more non-US scholars pursued this option (between twenty-two percent in 1913 and sixty-two percent in 1983). Third, the relatively high mobility (compared to other decades) of non-US scholars elected in 1923 points to the danger of telling a linear story of increasing mobility across the century. The opportunities and constraints of the interwar and World War II years, the period in which this cohort developed their careers, meant that more non-US scholars built their lives abroad than did so in later decades. This data clearly shows that awardees from different constituencies have used the Rhodes experience differently in the establishment and consolidation of their professional careers: while US scholars have utilized it as a platform to pursue a variety of careers principally at home, non-US scholars have employed the Rhodes program as a springboard to careers outside of their countries of election.

We caution, however, against making assumptions between these patterns and the notion of “brain drain.” As several recent studies in other contexts have shown, the notion of brain drain is likely to oversimplify the relationship that Rhodes scholars have had with their countries of election. Work by Tamson Pietsch suggests that Rhodes scholars who were academics maintained strong ties with their home countries, supervising the next generation of leaders and scholars from their countries of origin by hosting their stay abroad. The importance of such intergenerational networks might also be considered in other professional contexts, notably medicine or management consulting. In these instances, rather than acting as the source of brain drain, Rhodes scholars who have made their careers outside their countries of origin have nonetheless still contributed to knowledge mobility and circulation— factors that are usually considered to sit at the heart of national innovation.

The chapter is available electronically and in print as Tamson Pietsch & Meng-Hsuan Chou, ‘The politics of scholarly exchange: taking the long view on the Rhodes Scholarships’ in L. Tournès and G. Scott-Smith, Global Exchange: Scholarships and Transnational Circulations in the Modern World (Berghahn Books, 2017). Introduction to the book available here.

You can read a pre-print version on academia.edu here.

My recommendation for this week is below, but Griffith Review Great Reads is very much worth subscribing to. Four pieces each week from across the web (and it’s free!).

The rise of the thought leaderNew Republic
Taking up Daniel W Drezner’s The Ideas Industry, which examines the rise of thought leaders, David Sessions makes political what Drezner was content to describe. Citing the growing influence of think-tanks and big philanthropic dollars, Sessions reveals a world in which ‘the super-rich actively seek to sabotage institutions [such as universities] that have formed the backbone of consensus and public trust for a large part of the twentieth century’. As depressing as this is, he finds hope in a generation of young writers and academics who argue for a richer and more complex society that prioritises human flourishing over private profit.