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bobek792 asked:
whats the accepted timeline for biblical events such as exodus? who was the pharoah? were the Jews the Habiru or the Hyksos?

Some archaeologists, and myself, hold to the theory that Exodus is actually a folk memory of the Bronze Age era Egyptian imperial hegemony over the southern Levant. The people archaeologists can identify as being distinctively different from other Canaanite groups began to emerge in the central Judean hill country around 1200 BCE, and their settlements and inscriptions can be traced as distinctively “Israelite.” This is called the Israelites as Canaanites Theory. Exodus came into the form it is because the Biblical authors needed it for the cosmology they were constructing, and they borrowed extensively from Near Eastern literary tropes (the Baby With a Destiny Found in a Basket in a River, for instance) and Israelite folk memory in constructing it.

If you put the Books of Exodus/Joshua and Judges side by side and really read the texts, you’ll see that they tell the same story. One tells the story of an exiled people making their way home after so many years and violently reclaiming the land via military campaigns which left dubious archaeological imprints, and one tells the story of a loosely organized Iron Age tribal society sharing the same general folk religion and language gradually emerging and gaining power over other Canaanite groups, including the ones which were theoretically wiped out in Joshua.

….Biblical Studies was my jam in undergrad.

Further Reading: http://historicity-was-already-taken.tumblr.com/Further%20Reading#Biblical%20Scholarship



I made it one of my rules not to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict here, or anywhere online, but here’s the thing. Understanding history is a crucial part of understanding this conflict, and I’ve seen a lot of highly inaccurate information about relevant histories floating around on social media. This issue is steeped in historical revisionism from all sides, and it’s incredibly dangerous.

If you have a question about any of the history that people on your fb feed are inevitably mouthing off about, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I have opinions—we all do—but I know how to separate historical fact from personal partisan view. Purely political questions will be ignored, as will queries regarding my views. If I don’t know the answer to your question I will find some resources for you.

This has been a PSA from your very concerned friendly neighborhood historian.

ask box

Reblogging for the morning crowd. I’m leaning towards creating a detailed, annotated resource list en lieu of a bunch of narrative posts spanning from the Bronze Age Collapse (1200 BCE-ish) to now, simply for organizational and time related reasons. But please continue to send me questions if you have them. I might answer them individually, or include relevant works in the resource list.

And I am consulting with my friends (PhD candidates) who work in the field of Middle Eastern history, in creating this list, so this will not be a compilation of historiography from a single field.


I made it one of my rules not to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict here, or anywhere online, but here’s the thing. Understanding history is a crucial part of understanding this conflict, and I’ve seen a lot of highly inaccurate information about relevant histories floating around on social media. This issue is steeped in historical revisionism from all sides, and it’s incredibly dangerous.

If you have a question about any of the history that people on your fb feed are inevitably mouthing off about, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I have opinions—we all do—but I know how to separate historical fact from personal partisan view. Purely political questions will be ignored, as will queries regarding my views. If I don’t know the answer to your question I will find some resources for you.

This has been a PSA from your very concerned friendly neighborhood historian.

ask box

posted 3 days ago
in-thoughts-not-breaths asked:
Hi! I just wanted to thank you for your post on the TFIOS Anne Frank house kiss. While I enjoyed some of the book, and more of the movie, most of it fell flat for me (for a variety of reasons), and that particular scene made me uncomfortable for reasons I couldn't quite articulate (more so in the movie than in the book), yet you put it into words spectacularly. I just wanted to thank you for so eloquently articulating such important points about both TFIOS and Anne Frank in historical memory. :)

Thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

posted 1 week ago
jadisqueenofwinter asked:
I just wanted to say that your description of the Anne Frank scene in TFIOS really hit the nail on the head - that scene made me uncomfortable both when reading the book and watching the film, and you put it in to words for me. It's a shame, because otherwise I have found Green to give fairly perceptive historical commentary.

Thank you. I’m so glad to have helped you find the words to voice your discomfort. There have been so many times in my life where I knew that someone was being (to be buzzwordy) problematic, but didn’t know how to express it. And then when I finally found the thing that put it into words I was like YESSS NOW I CAN GO BACK IN TIME AND ARTICULATE MYSELF EFFECTIVELY. It’s a good feeling, is what I’m trying to say.

posted 1 week ago
conns-aquamarine-blue asked:
Hi, I just read your post on the TFIOS Anne Frank house kiss. I am glad you wrote on it, I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but when reading the reviews I first learned about the Anne Frank house kiss. I had someone tell me it is actually romantic, but there is something so uncomfortable to me about having a first kiss seen take place in the same house that a family were trying not to be killed by nazis. Just wanted to say I agree with your post, and thank you for writing it.

I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for your kind words. I hope this doesn’t sound presumptuous or pretentious, but I hope that my words empower you to speak up next time someone makes such an uncritical analysis at you :)

posted 1 week ago
perfectcoma asked:
YES on well-researched John Green criticism.

Glad you enjoyed it!

I’ve seen some very defensive reblogs like “UGH CAN EVERYONE JUST LEAVE JOHN GREEN ALONE.” For the record, my only emotion towards John Green before I heard of the scene in the Anne Frank House was general resentment towards the manner in which the media is treating him like the messiah of the Young Adult genre. In reality the vast majority of the writers who put the genre on the map (Judy Blume, Tamora Pierce, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Louise Rennison, Laura Halse Anderson, Madeline L’Engle, Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Sarah Dessen, etc) are women, the majority of them writing for/about women and girls. But my rant about sexism in the publishing industry is not relevant to this blog (alas).

I’d actually been sitting on a half-written post about Anne Frank and Holocaust narrative memory for almost a year before I made the post. I had the material, but it just wasn’t fully formed. The book and screen adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, combined with the massive cultural capital and influence John Green enjoys, really sort of…allowed what I had been wanting to say all along to fall into place. Plus it made me angry, and I tend to write my best posts when I’m angry.

I was likeimage

posted 1 week ago
sunbeambot asked:
Hi there. First, I just want to tell you that I really enjoy your blog! I haven't found another like it. You seem to have a background in public history and as a history undergrad that is what I would like to get my masters in. However, a lot of people seem to think it is a very hard field to find a job in and therefore not worth pursuing. So, I was wondering what your opinion is of the public history field. Is it worth it? Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated! Marie :)

Hi there! Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

I have a lot of very conflicting feelings about Public History as a field. I am disturbed by the consistent segmentation and separation of fields like Museum Studies, Public History, Library Science, History, Preservation, Historic Preservation, Art History, Anthropology, and Archaeology on the professional/Master’s degree/non-aspiring to a tenure track career level. I am disturbed by the increasing specialization of the job market and its relationship to the unpaid intern economy, and I am disturbed by the perceived desire of every over-segmented field to its own inaccessible jargon and buzzwords. In reality, the above fields should be over-lapping and in constant conversation with each other at the professional/graduate/Master’s degree level.

Now as for Public History as a practice….I do Public History. Most of the things I have been paid (or unpaid) to do have been Public History. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most important jobs you can have when it comes to keeping people informed, and helping people to understand the world they live in. However, I would advise you against the Master’s in Public History. I would advise you instead to do a History MA to get a sound footing in your field’s scholarship. Do a lot of Public History internships while doing your Master’s to get experience. It’s going to be extremely expensive because it’s difficult to secure funding as a Master’s student, but unfortunately that is the reality of getting a job in this general field.

As for it being hard to find a job…yes. It is difficult to find a job in that and related fields, and the pay is often low. However, if Public History is your passion, then go for it. Just have backup plans.

Hello! My first piece of advice is to read this: Selected Subaltern Studies (Essays from the 5 Volumes and a Glossary) edited by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Ranajit Guha, and this: Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea by Rosalind Morris, and this: Orientalism by Edward Said.

I recommend you read these because you’re writing about a group of women whom the British colonized, and to be able to write about them, you need to understand what that means, and how that will affect your research and your writing. I address the issue of colonized histories in this post. The relevant part reads as follows:

A problem, however, in the reconstruction of her life and the analysis of her actions is that most of what we know of her comes from Spanish sources; sources penned by Malintzin’s buyers, sellers, owners, and conquerors. Therefore, even the very sources from which she can be reconstructed exist within a colonized context—the academic/theoretical term for the instance in which the only record of a person, or a people, was penned by their oppressor or conqueror is “subalternity,” with the study of these people, or groups, being “subaltern studies.” I use quotes not to imply that I am mocking this form of post-colonial criticism, but because I am introducing the term to those unfamiliar with it.

Now as for the actual history you’re looking into, I can help you find resources (putting that mls to work~), but before I do that I need to know where you want to start. Do you want to start with general chronologies? Larger works about the British Empire? Works giving you a background and grasp of pre-Raf Indian history? A history of the construction of femininity in Hindu culture? Books to help you understand Hinduism? Do you plan on addressing Muslim Indian women or are you focusing solely on Hindu Indian women? I could of course find specific treatments on this issue, but if you’re just starting your research I recommend that you do some intense background reading first (of course, I don’t know anything about you, so for all I know you’ve already done most of this.)

ask historicity-was-already-taken a question

We need to talk about Anne Frank

As of this writing, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has sold over one million copies, and holds a place on several bestseller lists. The film adaptation of the book has made over two hundred million dollars in the domestic and foreign market. The book and the movie tell the story of two terminally ill American teenagers, and both contain a scene where the protagonists, Hazel and Augustus, share a kiss in the Anne Frank House. John Green made the following statement regarding the scene:

“Anne Frank was a pretty good example of a young person who ended up having the kind of heroic arc that Augustus wants—she was remembered and she left this mark that he thinks is valuable—but when he has to confront her death, he has to confront the reality that really she was robbed of the opportunity to live or die for something. She just died of illness like most people. And so I wanted him to go with a sort of expectation of her heroism and be sort of dashed.”

Here, Green makes it clear that he reads Anne Frank’s death as being from an illness like “most people,” like his protagonist. In doing so, he erases the circumstances under which she contracted typhus. “Most people” are not Ashkenazic Jewish teenage girls who contracted typhus in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. This fundamental erasure of the context of her death allowed him, those involved in the cinematic adaptation, and yes, a large portion of his readership, to accept the use of Anne Frank and her death as a prop in this American YA love story. Indeed, when further called on the issue, Green stated:

“I’ve been getting this question a lot. I can’t speak for the movie, obviously, as I didn’t make it, but as for the book: The Fault in Our Stars was the first non-documentary feature film to be granted access to the Anne Frank House precisely because the House’s board of directors and curators liked that scene in the novel a great deal. (A spokesperson recently said, ‘In the book it is a moving and sensitively handled scene.’) Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, had this to say: ‘The kissing scene in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in the annex of the Anne Frank House is not offensive or against who Anne Frank was. What Anne communicated in her diary was hope. She celebrated life and she celebrated hope.’ Obviously, the Anne Frank House and the ADL do not have a monopoly on Anne’s life or her legacy, but their opinions are important to me.”

I take issue with this response. Here, Green is divesting himself of responsibility for the scene, and communicating to his critics that he is not to blame, because the Anne Frank House board of directors, curators, and a Holocaust survivor approved of it. In other words, he is drawing these peoples’ assumed authority to silence criticism, and to avoid taking responsibility for the filmed version of a scene he created.

The Anne Frank House, for all the wonderful work it does, is a museum. Like all museums, it must work to attract and reach out to potential patrons. In other words, museums have to advertise because they require patrons and revenues to exist. Therefore, I read the official approval of the Anne Frank House simply as a targeted attempt to reach out to and attract a pool of untapped, younger patrons. They chose to support the filming of a sympathetic romantic scene about terminally ill teenagers in their institution to reach out to young people. While that is a sound business decision, I would argue that it’s hardly an ethical one for the Anne Frank House, an institution devoted, as per their website, to:

“the preservation of the place where Anne Frank went into hiding during the Second World War, and to bringing the life story of Anne Frank to the attention of as many people as possible worldwide with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination and the importance of freedom, equal rights and democracy,”

to support the filming of this scene. For, in Green’s own words, that scene had nothing to do with the context of Anne Frank’s death, and therefore, it did nothing to bring Anne Frank’s story to life. And it hardly raises awareness of contemporary European anti-Semitism.

As for the ADL, I very much agree with Mr. Foxman’s assessment of Anne Frank. However, what she celebrated in her life and her writings have little to do with what she has come to mean in within public memory of the Holocaust of European Jewry. Her narrative has been used by nations and educational systems to the extent that for many, she is the Holocaust; she is the face of the Holocaust. But what we inherit from her isn’t the experience of the Holocaust. That experience, and her death at Bergen Belsen take place outside the pages of her diary. Readers are never forced to experience the Holocaust through her eyes; they are able to embrace the tragedy of the Holocaust through her story while remaining removed from its experiential realities. Thus, Anne Frank becomes the Holocaust without forcing anyone to experience it. Her name can be invoked to summon tragedy, without forcing anyone to feel it.

While Anne Frank may be the face of the Holocaust of European Jewry, the memory of the experiential reality of the Holocaust is male. The way we conceptualize and remember the concentration camp experience is constructed by male narratives. More Jewish men survived the Holocaust than Jewish women. Due to attitudes towards education in the interwar period, more male Jewish survivors had the education and literary capital needed to craft enduring narratives of their experiences than did female Jewish survivors. There are three foundational male Holocaust survival narratives: Night by Elie Wiesel, Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, and Maus by Art Spiegelman about his father’s Holocaust experience. Never have I seen those three men and their narratives used as a joke, or a meme, or a cheap narrative device, or as self-promotion by an American pop star.

These men are revered, and their narratives taken extremely seriously. And none of them, none of them have been used in a prop in a story about terminally ill gentile American teenagers. They survived, in perhaps the type of heroic arc a John Green protagonist would yearn for. Yet Augustus doesn’t look to them. He doesn’t share a kiss with his girlfriend at Auschwitz. He shared a kiss with her in the Anne Frank House.

Anne Frank is not a prop. She is not a symbol, she is not a teenager who happened to die of an illness, and she is not one of the canonical Jewish male survivors. She is one of many millions of Jewish women and girls who were industrially murdered like livestock, incinerated, and left in an unmarked grave. That is the story of the Holocaust of European Jewry, and that is the story of the persecution and murder of all Europeans (the disabled, Romani, Irish Travelers, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists) who failed to fit into Nazi racial and ideological constructs.

And we would all do well to remember that.

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