Posts Tagged ‘road’
Cara L. Burnidge
The first weekend in June I spent 14 hours in a car driving to Indianapolis for the Religion in American Culture Conference. Despite the long drive, it was well worth it as Emily’s summary attests. Not getting my fill of road trips or summer conference season, I made another 14 hour drive ten days later. This time I headed straight up I-95 to Arlington, Virginia to attend the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). A relative newcomer to the Society this was my first meeting and it will not be my last. In addition to the lovely mid-afternoon coffee and snacks between sessions (you had me at “complimentary coffee break”) and the dinner and dance Friday night (yes, that’s right. There was a dance. I promise it did not resemble a middle school wallflower stand-in nor was it a Miley twerk fest), there were a number of panels and papers of interest to RiAH readers.
In the final panel of RAAC, “The Future of the Study of Religion and American Culture,” John McGreevy listed three directions for the future of the field: 1. the category of “nones” (those claiming no religious affiliation) and, correspondingly, secularism; 2. global and transnational studies that place the United States in a global context and/or explorations of points of contact, fluidity, and movement between America and the rest of the world; 3. religion and political history. In identifying these three areas, McGreevy noted scholarship that exemplifies or encourages research in these areas, but he also asserted the increased importance of these three areas in years to come. After three days at SHAFR, however, I am convinced that McGreevy’s future is here and scholars of American religion, especially the historians among us, have important conversation partners outside the AAR and within SHAFR.
|Diplomatic History is the journal of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
More information about it can be found at http://history.colorado.edu/programs-publications/diplomatic-history
My interest in SHAFR started with Andrew Preston’s seminal article “Bridging the Gap between the Sacred and the Secular in the History of American Foreign Relations” (Diplomatic History 30, no. 5 (2006): 783-812). This piece summoned many historians to take religion seriously in diplomatic history; so seriously, in fact, that Preston noted at the most recent AHA meeting that it probably could not be printed today. His recent book, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith (Knopf, 2012), makes it difficult to argue that religion doesn’t “matter” to US foreign relations. (Blake Renfo’s RiAH review can be read here) The panel devoted to “Evangelical Projections” at this year’s SHAFR conference, chaired by Preston, made a strong case for religion as not just an “influence” in diplomatic history, but a “force” to be reckoned with. For example, Lauren Turek presented fascinating research on the way in which Pat Robertson served as a tacit spokesperson for Rios Montt’s regime in Guatemala in the 1980s. Turek demonstrated how Montt’s “Project David” campaign to ensure a “moral” government that exposed communist sympathizers received such strong support and coverage from Robertson and his followers that President Reagan could not ignore evangelicals’ demands that the United States support the regime. Also bringing a global context to American religions, Melanie McAlister drew attention to the Southern Baptist Convention’s response to apartheid, illustrating the power of Southern Christians outside the United States and an understudied area of global, social justice concern among this evangelical group. The final presentation was by Benjamin Brandenburg who explained Billy Graham’s “global footprint” through his tour of the Soviet Union. Complicating the simple narrative of evangelicals despising “godless” communists, Brandenburg asserted a sort of Cold War conversion in Graham’s position toward confronting communism.
While this session was clearly billed as the “religious” one, this was certainly not the only panel of interest to readers. Several papers along the way brought to mind scholarship discussed regularly here. For example, David Painter’s presentation at the “Teaching New Topics in American Foreign Relations” panel centered on the argument that historians must integrate oil (not merely policies about oil) into the history of US foreign relations. Hewing closely to research by Darren Dochuk and Mike Pasquier, Panter discussed the seven sisters of big oil and dated the significance of oil back to the Anglo-American switch from coal to oil during the 1920s and 1930s (a period of recent interest to many American religions scholars). On the same panel, Nicole Phelps introduced the audience to a case study she uses to illustrate the complicated relationships between local, state, national, and international politics: a court case (and others related to it) in which 11 Sicilians were lynched in NOLA…a flashpoint of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and class that reminded me of the complex study Emily is working on. In more cases than I expected these historians included “religion” and were encouraging others to pursue a rigorous study of religion as the future for their field. In the panel on “Teaching America to the World,” for instance, Sandra Scanlon explained that is often discussions of religion that draw her Irish students in and encouraged members to follow in Matt Sutton’s footsteps and apply for the Mary Ball Washington Professorship of American History. Finally, the Plenary Session on “America in the World in the Nineteenth Century” ended with the conclusion that there are two major themes primed to dominate the future of SHAFR: religion and empire.
What I was struck by most was not that these historians focused on religion, but that they focused on religion so much but did not consider themselves to be doing the work of religion/religious studies/religious history. Our colleagues at the Bulletin for the Study of Religion would have a rich data set to consider had I conducted a more formal ethnographic study, but, based on personal anecdotes, I was surprised at the number of folks examining the role of a missionary/mission and the way s/he/it influenced the State Department’s position toward another country OR conducting archival research on a person or group who invested in or profited from a religious organization, but did not consider themselves–as scholars–to be seriously researching “religion.” ["Personally, I'm a Christian, but that doesn't factor into my work"; "You study religion? I guess I kind of do too. I study a missionary group in..."] Forget the “nones” and their refusal to self-identify with a religious institution and let’s consider for a moment the scholars who talk about “religion” and don’t consider their work to be about religion. For that matter, let’s think about the way in which I was/am convinced that these historians are doing religious studies work even though they do not self-identify as such.
Following up on McGreevy’s provocative list for the future of scholarship on American religion, as we collectively ponder secularism–its formations, its contours, its relationship to the State, the existence of a secular metaphysics as distinct from church or state–we seem to be turning toward “politics,” that is the set of actions conducted by the state, at various levels. This seems to be happening at the same time that historians of American foreign relations, at least, are acutely attuned to the importance of culture, “meaning-making,” and the like in their own work. Scholars of American religions recent attention to secularism/secularization has much to offer historians of American foreign relations. Likewise, panelists at SHAFR demonstrate an impressive immersion in primary sources that speak to the the actors, organizations, places, and themes central to the study of American religions. I hope our paths continue to cross.
Perhaps this can be a conversation had in the comments and next year at SHAFR. The 2014 conference is chaired by Andrew Preston and will be held in Lexington, Kentucky next June. Information about this year’s and next year’s conferences can be found here. For those interested in American foreign relations broadly, there are many opportunities and resources available through SHAFR. Though highly competitive, SHAFR offers dissertation research grants and fellowships at $4,000 and $20,000, respectfully. They also have fellowships available for grad students conducting research with sources in languages other than English, for recent graduates working on their first monograph, and for women.
Peter Hoskins. In the Steps of the Black Prince: The Road to Poitiers, 1355-1356. Warfare in History series. Woodbridge, England: Boydell Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84383-611-7. Plates. Figures. Maps. Appendices. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. xviii, 246. $90.00.
Peter Hoskins, a medieval military historian and former British Royal Air Force pilot, writes a fascinating study of Prince Edward’s (the Black Prince) chevauchées…
by John Turner
Fortunately not by handcart.
For any of our readers in Utah (and their friends), I’m going to be in the Beehive State this week talking about Brigham Young in Logan, Provo, and Salt Lake City.
Tuesday, Sept. 11:
Utah State University, Old Main Room 225, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13:
Brigham Young University, Varsity Theatre, 11:00.
Thursday, Sept. 13:
Benchmark Books, Salt Lake City.
For details on the above talks, see http://johngturner.com/2012/09/09/utah-trip/ (still working out a few kinks on the website).
Closer to my home, I have an event at Politics & Prose on Sept. 21 and the Fall for the Book Festival on Sept. 28.
Book Review of The Road to Rocroi: Class, Culture and Command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659
Fernando González de León. The Road to Rocroi: Class, Culture and Command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659. History of Warfare series. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009. ISBN 978-90-04-17082-7. Illustrations. Charts. Maps. Notes. Bibliography. Pp. xvi, 406. $210.00.
Originally posted in International History (24 August 2012)
The Spanish Army of Flanders, led by some of the best military officers, stood as Europe’s elite army in the late sixteenth century. Dr Fernando González de León, Associate Professor of History at Springfield College in Massachusetts, examines the Army of Flanders during the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) and Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659). The author explains the decline of the officer corps and high command of the Army of Flanders that led to demoralized and incompetent leadership with poor military results during the last two decades of this period. He believes that long brewing problems with the Spanish officer corps, high command, and organizational weaknesses became evident in dramatic fashion against the French at the battle of Rocroi (1643).
González de León sees the history of the Army of Flanders as broken into two distinct parts during the Eighty Years War. In the first part the author investigates the School of Alba from 1567 to 1621. At the beginning of this era, the Duke of Alba established a military command in the Spanish Netherlands as well as a military system (or school). González de León discusses the staffing of the School of Alba, the internal structure and hierarchy of the Army of Flanders, issues of military discipline, as well as reforms involving the Spanish officer corps. Alba established an effective chain of command, favored Spanish officers and the infantry, provided rigorous officer training, and gave promotions to senior ranks based on experience and merit. González de León states that, “Alba’s sterling reputation as organizer and commander of the Army of Flanders, the first modern standing army, was considered the very pinnacle of military perfection and the main bulwark of Spanish power in Europe” (p.7). The author, however, points out that abuses began to creep into the system under the command of the Duke of Parma, Ambrogio Spinola, and the Archdukes Albert and Isabella starting from the 1580s to the Twelve Year Truce (1609). Even so, the Army of Flanders was open to tactical innovation and had success in the field.
In the second part of the study, González de León addresses the military reforms and policies of Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, from 1609 to 1659. The renewal of war against the Dutch Republic in 1621 brought out the internal problems within the Army of Flanders. Olivares saw the problems in the army as the lack of effective leadership. As such, the Count-Duke initiated reforms in military training and military justice, as well as adopted new policies in appointing officers, including the appointment of inexperienced, high-ranking Spanish aristocrats to senior military positions, hoping that they would succeed as effective commanders. Nevertheless, the author shows that these inexperienced Spanish officers weakened the high command, had little ability to command in the field, and held prejudices against other nationalities serving in command postitions in the multi-national Army of Flanders. González de León believes that, “this army was highly divided among nations, ranks and factions and ultimately failed to adapt to many of the new trends in warfare known in historiography as the Military Revolution” (p.373). This decline in combat effectiveness led to the disaster at the battle of Rocroi (1643). He stresses that, despite the fall of Olivares in 1643, the Army of Flanders made few changes and produced a string of major defeats against the Dutch, and the French in the Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659).
The author provides an important study on the Spanish Army of Flanders that contributes to our knowledge of the Eighty Years War. It adds to the recent literature on the conflict, including Geoffrey Parker’s The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road, 1567-1659 (1972), The Dutch Revolt (1977), and The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998); I.A.A. Thompson’s War and Government in Habsburg Spain, 1560-1620 (1976); Jonathan I. Israel’s The Dutch Revolt and the Hispanic World, 1606-1661 (1982); Marco van der Hoeven’s (editor) Exercise of Arms: Warfare in the Netherlands, 1568-1648 (1997); and Paul Allen’s Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621 (2000).
Dr William Young
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
The question of how best to care for Stonehenge, one of Europe’s leading prehistoric monuments, is slowly grinding on. In 2010 plans for a visitors centre (sited at a respectable distance) were approved, as well as the closure of part of the A344, a road which goes close to the stones. Now the local council have ordered another section of the A344 shut, although the closure of smaller roads was stopped.