How Do the Walls Around the World Function Differently?

After World War Ⅱ, the number of border walls all over the world increases significantly. Nowadays the border situation between the US and Mexico is widely discussed, and a wall is actually in people’s envision. What are some border walls in other countries like? Do they all function as the prevention of illegal migrants and refugees?

Serving similar purpose with the wall between US and Mexico, the security at Calais port between France and UK prevents illegal migrants from entering the UK. The security is equipped with detection technologies, such as heartbeat and carbon dioxide detectors, and both countries funded together for a “control and command center”. One difference between Calais port and US border wall is that Calais port prevents the migration problem “at source”, with the aid of strict systems, while the US border wall exposes migrants into the potential danger in the desert. What’s more, between UK and France governments, there is a promoted joint agreement to determine if the migrants are accepted as asylum seekers, get detained or deported.

Another example is the fences in Europe. Hungary and Slovenia are two countries with the region’s largest expanse of fences. These border fences serve to prevent illegal migrants as well but face more religious issues than the one between US and Mexico. It is revealed that people living near these barriers often find that they serve little purpose and can be psychologically damaging. For example, children in the camp in village are scared of their proximity to the fence.

Figure 1. The border wall along Hungary and Slovenia.

We are probably familiar with US president Trump’s use of the Great Wall in China as a comparison to his plans of building the wall. However, these two walls actually serve distinct purposes. The Great Wall was built to prevent exterior military incursion instead of as a security barrier. The construction of Great Wall started in 7th century BC, went through several dynasties, and finished in Ming dynasty. The Great Wall is not impregnable in Chinese history, so perhaps the border wall between US and Mexico will not be totally impregnable as well; moreover, according to Edward Alden, trade policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, increased enforcement efforts along the border may explain about 35 to 40 percent of the decline in illegal immigration flow.

Figure 2. The Great Wall served as the prevention of military attacks.

Nowadays, the border wall that is actually similar to the Great Wall is probably the wall built by Saudi Arabia. The 600-mile-long wall in their northern frontier is built to prevent ISIS from attacking the oil-rich territory.

If the government is determined to use border wall to prevent migration, it might be better to set up an excellent system instead of exposing the migrants in danger in the desert. And even though the wall may serve well politically, we need to think about how to reduce the psychological effect it brings to people who live nearby.

 

References:

Hjelmgaard, Kim

2018 From 7 to 77: There’s been an explosion in building border walls since World War II. Electronic document,

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/24/border-walls-berlin-wall-donald-trump-wall/553250002/, accessed December 2, 2018

 

BBC News

2016 Calais migrants: How is the UK-France border policed? Electronic document,

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33267137, accessed December 2, 2018

 

Hjelmgaard, Kim

2018 Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a wall. These European nations already did. Electronic document,

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/24/donald-trump-europe-border-walls-migrants/532572002/, accessed December 2, 2018

 

Michelle Ye Hee Lee

2016 Why Trump’s comparison of his wall to the Great Wall of China makes no sense. Electronic document,

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/03/08/why-trumps-comparison-of-his-wall-to-the-great-wall-of-china-makes-no-sense/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.972ab6dde511, accessed December 2, 2018

 

ShantiUniverse

2015 Saudi Arabia Builds 600 Mile Wall to Keep Islamic State OUT! Electronic document,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG_m4LKOCBk, accessed December 2, 2018

 

Further Reading:

The (Anthropological) Truth about Walls

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/the-anthropological-truth-about-walls/

 

The Trump Wall in Archaeological Perspective

https://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/the-trump-wall-in-archaeological-perspective/

 

Images:

Figure 1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/24/donald-trump-europe-border-walls-migrants/532572002/

 

Figure 2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/03/08/why-trumps-comparison-of-his-wall-to-the-great-wall-of-china-makes-no-sense/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.26dac171f9e3

 

How Archaeology Can Help Us Understand the Homeless

Homeless people exist in most urban areas; according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the state of California alone has roughly 134,000 homeless people in it––more than some countries (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness 2017). We don’t really like to think too much about them––we may give them a bit of our sympathy or maybe just look the other way––but they do exist, and they are indeed human, just like us.

Larry Zimmerman studies artifacts from common homeless resting places in order to get people to understand the homeless in cities. By investigating these sites, Zimmerman, assisted by a student, Jessica Welch, who was homeless for a period of time, determined that the modern day homeless is likened to an “urban nomad,” as they are extraordinarily adaptable (Zimmerman 2016). Many homeless people “panhandle” for money, their locations being spread out and diverse within the city. Welch explained this situation:

This image depicts a camp site scattered with essentials and valuables, which are frequently discarded as trash by city officials.

“You develop coping mechanisms––a fight or flight response–– when you are homeless that are probably not appropriate in mainstream culture. You get increasingly defensive and desperate. This is just one of the many things that make it difficult for homeless people to re-enter normal society. We have to understand that a goal of creating more affordable housing units is not enough; we need a complete social safety net, including better treatment and counseling options, and plenty of compassion and understanding on the part of the community” (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis 2008).

While more affordable housing units is an excellent start to decreasing the rate of homelessness in cities, we need to actually understand the people we actively shun. While investigating the sites, Zimmerman and Welch discovered an abnormally large amount of hotel shampoo and conditioner, which was left unused. Why would people without a reliable access to water have a need for stolen hotel shampoo and conditioner? We also give them cans of food, but no can openers. This just shows an ignorance about homelessness; we give the homeless what we think they need, but not what they actually want or need. Some picture homeless people as uneducated, when in reality, many of them can and love to read. They also own many priceless objects, such as pictures of their family, or medications; these are frequently thrown out by city officials. Some consider themselves “home free,” as they are liberated from the confines of mortgages and rules.

Though we think of them as “homeless” many actually consider themselves “home free,” as they are free of the constraints that come with a house.

Perhaps this archaeology of homelessness could educate us about what the homeless are really like and what they really need. Charities and shelters could help them more than ever before; they now know not to waste money on cosmetic supplies and can now focus their efforts on essentials. It is best to stop treating these homeless people like lepers––they are not invisible and they do not plague and pollute the streets of cities. A homeless person is just like you or me: a person––a human being that is worth understanding.

 

References:

Albertson, Nicole.

November 2009  Archaeology of the Homeless. Archaeology Volume 62 Number 6.

Zimmerman, Larry J., Singleton, Courtney, and Welch, Jessica.

August 2010  Activism and creating a translational archaeology of homelessness. World Archaeology Volume 42, 443-454.

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

November 2008  Archaeology of Homelessness

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124130956.htm accessed December

1, 2018.

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

2017  Homelessness Statistics by State https://www.usich.gov/tools-for-action/map/#fn[]=1500&fn[]=2900&fn[]=6100&fn[]=10100&fn[]=14100&all_types=true&year=2017&state=CA accessed December 2, 2018.

 

Additional Readings:

Politics of Homelessness in the United States

http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935307.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935307-e-153

U.K.’s Homelessness Problem Is Growing, and Spreading, Report Finds

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/world/europe/uk-homelessness.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FHomeless%20Persons&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

State of Homelessness

https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/

Bosnian Pyramids: The Influence and Consequences of Pseudo-Archaeology

In 2005, Semir Osmanagich was convinced that he had made one of the biggest finds in archaeological history. He claimed that some of the hills nearby the city of Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina were actually pyramids built by an unidentified ancient society (figure 1). If this was true, they would be the tallest step pyramids in the world, with the largest, dubbed the Pyramid of the Sun by Osmanagich, measuring 720 feet tall, which is about 240 feet taller than the Pyramid of Khufu, the largest pyramid in Egypt. He also believed them to be the oldest pyramids in the world, that they were built 12,000 years ago, meaning that they preceded the construction of the oldest Egyptian pyramid by over 8,000 years (Woodard 2009).

 

Figure 1: A pyramidal hill located right outside the town of Visoko, thought of by many in Bosnia to be an ancient pyramid covered in earth and vegetation.

Other than the shape of the hills resembling that of pyramids, Osmanagich had no clear archaeological evidence to back up his claim. The European Association of Archaeologists even called the pyramids “A cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public” and labeled his theory unscientific and all his findings either natural features or artifacts that came from the groups of people that have lived in the valley since the Greco-Roman period (Keats 2018). Osmanagich further discredited his own case by making farfetched speculations about the pyramids, like how they were made out of a concrete that is better than what is used today and how they allowed people to communicate via torsion fields while also improving their health and lengthening their lifespans (Keats 2018).

 

Figure 2: One of the many shops in Visoko benefitting from the influx of tourists.

Despite everything that was working against Omanagich’s conjectures, they were eagerly embraced by much of Bosnia, including many government officials, resulting in support of the theory being tied into Bosnian nationalism, with any skepticism branded as anti-Bosnian (Woodard 2009). This is not surprising, seeing as accepting this glamorous addition to the country’s history could be a convenient distraction from the relatively recent genocide that Bosnia is still recovering from; it was something people could be proud of.

In addition to raising the country’s spirits, the pyramid theory also boosted the area’s economy. Tourists, including many from outside Bosnia, began flocking to the pyramidal hills, buying souvenirs (figure 2), taking tours of the area and even taking part in the excavations (Crosby 2017). The problem with all of this, other than feeding people claims not backed by science as the truth and benefiting monetarily from it, is that artifacts are being found by Osmanagich and his volunteer diggers. These artifacts, left behind by the various peoples that are known to have occupied the area, are having their contexts destroyed. Because of the untrained workforce and lack of documentation, Osmanagich’s attempts to prove his vision of the area’s history is erasing whatever the actual history is.

 

Additional Readings

https://www.robertschoch.com/bosnia.html

https://www.gaia.com/article/mystery-of-torsion-fields

 

Works Cited

Crosby, Alan

  2017   Whether Real or a Hoax, Bosnian ‘Pyramids’ Bringing Concrete Benefits to Town. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-visoko-pyramids-osmanagic-economy-hoax/28725843.html, accessed December 1, 2018.

Keats, Jonathon

  2018   Revisiting the Bosnian Pyramid Scheme. Discover. http://discovermagazine.com/2018/sep/pyramid-dreams, accessed December 1, 2018.

Woodard, Colin

  2009   The Mystery of Bosnia’s Ancient Pyramids. Smithsonian. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-mystery-of-bosnias-ancient-pyramids-148990462/, accessed December 1, 2018.

 

Pictures

Figure 1 http://www.historydisclosure.com/ancient-bosnian-pyramids-discovery-dont-want-know/

Figure 2 https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-visoko-pyramids-osmanagic-economy-hoax/28725843.html

The Two Sides of Coyote Assisted Border Crossing

Wikipedia defines Coyote as “a colloquial Mexican-Spanish term referring to the practice of people-smuggling across the U.S.-Mexican border”. In border crossing, the coyote assists a migrant in crossing for a fee, which is usually fairly costly, and the costs are continuing to increase (Campoy 2017). The coyote uses their knowledge of the border and security to make money off of the people hoping to cross and come to America.

Ramon, a coyote from Reynosa, Mexico, smuggles people from from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande to the U.S. side. He makes up to 4 trips across the border per week, and has been doing so for almost 6 years. Ramon charges between seven and ten thousand dollars for the whole trip (Bonmati 2016). This money is then partially transferred to the drug cartels, who have control of parts of the border and help the migrants across, as long as they are paid.

This graphic illustrates the increase in pricing of using coyotes to assist in crossing the border.

 

Some coyotes are known to scam migrants, promising them a full crossing and leaving them before the trip is over, or often overcharging them for a small part in the journey. Ramon noted that the worst coyotes are the ones who require a full payment upfront. He says these are the ones who are least likely to really take the migrant where they want to go. Instead, the coyotes who are not scam-artists have the migrants travel part by part. For Ramon, the job is to get the migrants across the border, but not necessarily help them mich before and after. Those parts are another coyote’s specialty. Coyotes who promise to take the migrants the full way are usually scams, according to Ramon.

Unlike many coyotes in the business, Ramon actually cares about the people he is helping. He promises them that he will try again if they fail on the first try, and he also says he will try again if they are deported once in the U.S. All he asks is that if they are caught, that his clients do not identify him by name.

A photograph of Ramon from behind, as he does not want to be identified.

Ramon’s contribution to human border smuggling is helping people who need to get to America. He treats his clients as people, preparing them psychologically and physically before the journey, and helping them get to their destination to the greatest extent that he can. This sort of coyote work is beneficial, and can prevent the huge numbers of deaths that occur while migrants are crossing the border. But, the coyotes who scam the migrants for money are only hindering the system, and making it more unsafe to try and cross. If a migrant is able to pay, having someone like Ramon to work with seems like the best and safest option for crossing the border.

Additional Content:

“Inside The Hidden World Of Immigrant Smuggling.” NPR, NPR, 19 Apr. 2012, www.npr.org/2012/04/19/150973748/inside-the-hidden-world-of-immigrant-smuggling.

Noticias, Univision. “Animation: How a Coyote Smuggles Hundreds of Immigrants.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Dec. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-9JVUibkAo.

 

Sources Cited:

Bonmati, Damia S.

December 21, 2016   A day in the life of a coyote: smuggling migrants from Mexico to the United States. Univision News

Campoy, Ana and Christopher Groskopf

March 17, 2017   The Trump tax: Human smugglers at the US-Mexico border are jacking up prices.  Quartz

 

Images Cited:

https://qz.com/933232/the-trump-tax-human-smugglers-at-the-us-mexico-border-are-jacking-up-prices/

https://www.univision.com/univision-news/immigration/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-coyote-smuggling-migrants-from-mexico-to-the-united-states

Readdressing the Myth of Ghost Towns Through Contemporary Archeology

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries towns in the American West were rapidly created and subsequently abandoned. These towns have largely been ignored by historians and are just beginning to be studied by contemporary archeologists. By studying ghost towns, archeologists can tells us how and why this phenomenon occurred and provide valuable insight into what causes a settlement to fail. This is just one of many examples of how archeology is still relevant today.

The town of Frisco, Utah was studied by archeologists in 2008. At the site they find many artifacts including tobacco pipes and remains of a collapsed mine. Using these artifacts they were able to determine the Frisco was a moderately impoverished mining town that consisted mostly of men with few women and children.

In a recent archaeological study of ghost towns across Utah, Arizona and Nevada, researches excavated 104 sites. These archeologists were then able to compare and contrast the process of abandonment as well as aspects of the lifestyle in each of these towns through their respective assemblages, specifically, Newhouse and Frisco, two ghost towns in Utah. (Peyton 2012) At the Newhouse site, archeologists primarily found food storage containers and other domestic items including children’s toys and hairbrushes, indicating the presence of women. They also found remnants of a school building. In contrast at the Frisco site there were many tobacco pipes and alcohol containers and very few artifacts that indicated the presence of women. An overall site reconnaissance survey at Frisco showed evidence of mining and that the town was likely abandoned due to a collapsed mine while at the Newhouse site a complex irrigation system and dried wells allowed archaeologists to come to the conclusion that the town had been abandoned due to water shortage.

In contrast when archeologists excavated Newhouse Utah they found many domestic items including women hairbrushes and children’s toys indicating that there were many more families moving to this town. This helps us to rethink the stereotypical image of a frontier town.

Like many contemporary archeologies, the archeology of western ghost towns can be used to dispute common misconceptions about these abandoned places. For example, not all ghost towns were mining towns as another team of archaeologist found that only approximately 45% of the towns they identified as ghost towns centered around meaning as their primary economic function. (Hardesty 2010)  Others were religious settlements, railroad towns, military outposts and in the Pacific Northwest these towns are primarily associated with fishing and logging.

Another common misconception is that all ghost towns were abandoned because whatever they were mining ran out. (Ling 2013) Archeology has shown that the abandonment of the majority of ghost towns was a multicausal combination of social factors coupled with the overuse of natural resources, most notably water scarcity. (Peyton 2012) This collapse due to the exploitation of natural resources serves as a warning for us today and prevents us from blaming the failures of these towns on purely economic factors.

The archeology of ghost towns allows us to challenge many ideas we have about the west during this period of time such as the glorification of these mining towns as well as the idea that they simply popped up one day and then crashed the next. (Buckholtz 2015) Archeology has revealed that the decline of these towns is much more complex and took place over years. By studying this archeology of abandonment, archaeologist gain valuable insight to what challenges may turn our modern cities into the ghost towns of tomorrow.

References:

Buckholtz, Sarah

   2015 Authentic Wild West Ghost Town: Bodie, CA. Two Lanes Blog. August 11

Hardesty, Donald L.

    2010 Mining Archeology in the American West. Digital Commons. University of Nebraska

    Press- Sample Books and Chapters, Spring.

Ling, Peter

   Ghost Towns of America. Geotab Blog

   https://www.geotab.com/ghost-towns/

Peyton, Paige Margaret

    2012 The Archaeology of Abandonment: Ghost Towns of the American West. Leicester

    Research Archive: Home. School of Archaeology and Ancient History, November 1.

Image citations:

Bezzant, Bob

Newhouse, Beaver UT. Ghost Towns of America

Gabler, Michael

2018 Frisco: A Utah Ghost Town. Urban Ghosts. September 18

Additional Reading:

They Bought a Ghost Town for $1.4 Million. Now They Want to Revive It.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/us/cerro-gordo-ghost-town-california.html

 

A Soviet Ghost Town in the Arctic Circle, Pyramiden Stands Alone

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/soviet-ghost-town-arctic-circle-pyramiden-stands-alone-180951429/

 

The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America

http://www.iia.unam.mx/directorio/archivos/MANL510125/2003_Manzanilla-Abandonment.pdf

 

Immigration Archaeology: The Trails Behind Migrants

As anthropologist Jason De León illustrates, “[a]rchaeology is about ‘trying to understand human behavior in the past through the study of what people leave behind’…[n]obody ever said the past had to be a thousand years ago” (Hartigan Shea 2018). When one hears the term ‘archaeology’, they may be tempted to think of the far past whereas it — as De León emphasizes — could refer to even one minute prior.

Today, immigration across the Mexico-United States border (into the United States) remains a prominent issue. De León has studied this area (specifically the Sonoran Desert where many migrants attempt to cross despite its gruesome conditions) in great depth. De León has been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation in 2017 for his expertise in “[c]ombining ethnographic, forensic, and archaeological evidence to bring to light the human consequences of immigration policy at the U.S.–Mexico border” (MacArthur Foundation 2017). Unsurprisingly, De León is one of the only people within the “[range of] archaeologists and material culture specialists” (Hamilakis 2016) to partake in this field.

A Dora The Explorer backpack, among many others, recovered from near the Mexico-United States border and displayed in the “State of Exception” exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center of The New School (Dobnik 2017).

On the Greek island of Lesvos, a similar situation with immigration is occurring. “[M]ore than 500,000 people crossed from Turkey, migrants and war refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as many other Asian and African countries, to [this] island with 85,000 permanent inhabitants” (Hamilakis 2016). In venturing to safer land, “[s]ome of [their] camps…can become substantial and highly organized structures despite their makeshift character, as [seen] in northern Greece” (Hamilakis 2016). These people make do with what little they have, setting up shop and moving onwards — these campsites becoming modern sites for archaeological investigation.

An aerial view of a cramped, makeshift camp in Idomeni on the Greece-Macedonia border, housing approximately 7 thousand people at the time of imaging (Telegraph Video 2016).

In regards to what immigrants jettison in regions like the Mediterranean and the Arizona desert, what is left behind “form[s] worthwhile topics for further reflection and study” (Hamilakis 2016) — and a budding ‘branch’ of archaeology. By locating these abandoned objects, voices and identities are given to otherwise invisible people. This growing problem of today mirrors the movement of past peoples and how they have been studied to understand why they left and where they went. However, currently — the time in which this is an issue — the world has the power to work to reach a logical solution. When looking through their belongings, one can see how these people, regarded as ‘invaders’ and ‘inconvenient’, are human. Understanding that these immigrants are giving up everything to head to safer places for acceptable livelihoods is crucial; they are leaving their past lives to stay alive.

Inevitably, there is no reason to disregard the people leaving their countries for our land of dreams, because they are just like the rest of us.

Additional Readings

De León, Jason

  2013 Undocumented migration, use wear, and the materiality of habitual suffering in the Sonoran Desert. Journal of Material Culture 18 (4): 321-345. doi:10.1177/1359183513496489.

 

Papataxiarchis, Evthhymios

  2016 Being ‘there’: At the front line of the ‘European refugee crisis’ — part 1. Anthropology Today 32 (2): 5-9. doi:10.1111/1467-8322.12237.

 

Pringle, Heather

  2011 The Journey to El Norte. Archaeology, January/February. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://archive.archaeology.org/1101/features/border.html.

 

Works Utilized

Dobnik, Verena

  2017 NYC gallery displays migrants’ backpacks, belongings. The Washington Times, February 10. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/ feb/10/ny-gallery-displays-migrants-backpacks-belongings/.

 

Hamilakis, Yannis

  2016 Archaeologies of Forced and Undocumented Migration. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 3 (2): 121-139. doi:10.1558/jca.32409.

 

Hartigan Shea, Rachel

  2018 Immigration Archaeology: What’s Left at Border Crossings. National GeographicAugust. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/08/embark-genius-jason-immigration-archaeology/.

 

MacArthur Foundation

  2017 Jason De León. MacArthur Foundation, October 11. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.macfound.org/fellows/986/.

 

Telegraph Video

  2016 Watch: Aerial footage of crowded migrant camp on Greece-Macedonia border. Telegraph Video, March 2. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/macedonia/12180807/Watch-Aerial-footage-of-crowded-migrant-camp-on-Greece-Macedonia-border.html.

 

Images Utilized

Lennihan, Mark

  2017 Migrant Belongings Art [image]. Associated Press. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/image/ap_migrantsbelongings_art_83724jpg/.

 

Telegraph Video

  2016 Migrant Camp – Aerial [image]. Telegraph Video. Accessed November 24, 2018. https://secure.i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03587/migrant-camp-aeria_3587034b.jpg.

Memorials and the Archaeological Record

This past week in class, we talked about the way in which archaeology can help people reflect on trauma and suffering of the past. I’m interested in the way archaeological records are employed in museums and memorials to emphasize past sufferings. An example that we talked about was Holocaust museums and how the collections of the items can invoke empathy and understanding about the sheer horror and quantity of that horror that happened half a century ago. What Edward Rothstein of the New York Times calls the “archaeology of trauma” can be seen in

Piles of shoes from Holocaust victims at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Holocaust museums across the world (Rothstein). Special effects and simulations, and, more so on the archaeological front, collections of artifacts from the 6 million Jews who were murdered (United States Holocaust), work together to give a museum visitor an intense experience. Other memorials might list all the names of the people who lost their lives, if such records exist and are known. Growing up in Jewish day school for ten years, I’ve been to my fair share of Holocaust museums and memorials. I can say as a first hand spectator that looking at piles and piles of clothes, shoes, suitcases, jewelry pieces, or other various personal belongings from the archaeological record of the Holocaust shakes a person to the core. It gives you the physical objects to visualize the scale of the trauma and is incredibly effective at doing so.

Following the discussion of this topic in class, I became curious about how we then create this reflection on trauma if little remains from the archaeological record. What if there are no artifacts? No suitcases? No shoes? Nothing to point to the atrocity

At the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. There are names and places of those murdered written on the bottoms of the hanging concrete blocks.

that happened? These questions led me to The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. This memorial, opened recently in 2018 and inspired by the Berlin Holocaust memorial, serves as a memorial for African American people who were murdered by lynching in this country throughout history (Robertson). This memorial / museum “embarked on a project to memorialize this history by visiting hundreds of lynching sites, collecting soil, and erecting public markers” (EJI). The memorial displays this collected soil, along with the names of those murdered and evocative art pieces that emphasize the historical racial injustice of this country. While we may not have the

Jars of soil collected for the National Memorial for Peace and Justice

most personal belongings of every person who was a victim of racial violence, we do have access to art, to names, and to the soil: the soil that was underneath when these murders happened. They provide the context for the history that happened. We can look at that soil and feel the horror of what it witnessed. The art provides our narrative. We can look at the art and feel the pain of what happened. I’ve been brought up with the understanding that objects are what gives a historical event its weight, but perhaps we should rethink that definition. Doing so might stop the erasure of historical trauma that cannot always be articulated through objects.

Additional reading on this topic:

For the Equal Justice Initiative’s piece and video about why building this memorial was important, click HERE.

For more images and a look inside the memorial, click HERE.

Sources Cited:

2018 EJI. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Electronic Document, https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/memorial , accessed November 19, 2018.

Robertson, Campbell.

2018 . NYTimes. A Lynching Museum is Opening. Electronic Document, https:/www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/us/lynching-memorial-alabama.html , accessed November 19, 2018.

Rothstein, Edward.

2012 . NYTimes. Holocaust Museums in Israel Evolve. Electronic Document, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/arts/design/israels-holocaust-museums-evolve-in-message-and-methods.html , accessed November 19, 2018.

2018 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Documenting Numbers of Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution. Electronic Document, https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/documenting-numbers-of-victims-of-the-holocaust-and-nazi-persecution , accessed November 19, 2018.

Image sources:

Holocaust museum shoes – http://solotravelgirl.com/solitude-and-reflection-in-the-u-s-holocaust-memorial-museum/

National memorial for Peace and Justice – https://massdesigngroup.org/work/national-memorial-peace-and-justice

Jars of soil – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/us/lynching-memorial-alabama.html

Danger for the Everglades

Photo above: A boat wends its way through mangroves in the Everglades ecosystem. Phote credit to CARLTON WARD, JR

Image result for national geographic the everglades

Photo Above: Cypress trees in the Everglades. Photo Credit to Terry Eggers.

The Everglades National Park in Florida is the only natural World Heritage site in America to land on the critically in danger list due to human population growth, development, invasive species and fertilizer drainage. As a Floridian I am saddened to learn this. I am also ashamed. I actually was not aware of this until learning it in class. I also was able to learn a lot more about the Everglades in my research for this post.

The Everglades National Park is listed as a World Heritage site, International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. (National Parks Service) It is also protected under the Cartagena treaty. The Cartagena requires that all parties part of the convention take measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, and the habit of endangered species, within the convention zones. Their purpose is to prevent, control, and reduce pollution of these lands. (EPA)

Once the Everglades covered over 11,0000 square miles of Florida, from Orlando down to the tip of the peninsula. It is now only 2,500 square miles with 1800 miles of canals and dams breaking up the natural system, thanks to human population growth and development since the 20th century. It contains a very slow moving river, 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long. (Lillie Marshall 2011)

The Everglades variety of wet habitats have made a sanctuary for numerous rare and endangered species. The sea turtle, American Alligator, Florida panther, and Bald Eagle are among several endangered species dependent on the ecosystem the Everglades provide. (Everglades Holiday Park Blog 2015) If the ecosystem were to continue to encroached upon and destroyed then many or all of these species would die out.

In addition to the animals and plants that depend on the land, the Native American Seminole tribe also depend on the land. Native people have inhabited the Everglades for thousands of years, and the Seminole tribe depends on the healthy ecosystem for survival. Traditional cultural, religious, and recreational activities, as well as commercial endeavors are dependent on the Everglades. Tribal members believe that if the land dies, so will they, because their identity is so closely linked. (Seminole Tribe of Florida)

Archaeologists are helping to protect and restore this ecosystem. By looking at the archaeological record, they are able to observe and interpret lifestyle changes made by inhabitants as a result of the changing climate and landscape that occurred. This type of information can be useful to scientists and engineers working to restore an environment impacted as dramatically as the Everglades. (Thomas, 2013)

There are many other programs set up to help protect and restore the everglades. The Seminole tribe has the Seminole Everglades Restoration Initiative to improve water quality, storage capacity, and to enhance hydroperiods. Congress had passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to restore, protect and preserve 18,000 square miles of land over 16 Florida counties. The National Park Service website also has many ways to contribute. Let us save this ecosystem and preserve it.

Links to Everglade restorative programs.

https://www.semtribe.com/Culture/SeminolesandtheLand.aspx

https://www.evergladesfoundation.org/the-everglades/restoration-projects/

https://www.nps.gov/ever/getinvolved/index.htm

More Information

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-conversation-us/restoring-the-everglades_b_10228720.html

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/everglades-are-most-critically-endangered-site-in-us-international-report-finds-9868832

Works Cited

“Cartagena Convention and Land-Based Sources Protocol.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 6 Dec. 2017, www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/cartagena-convention-and-land-based-sources-protocol.

“Culture.” Seminole Tribe of Florida – Culture, www.semtribe.com/Culture/SeminolesandtheLand.aspx.

“Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm.

“Everglades Wildlife: Threatened and Endangered.” Everglades Holiday Park, 5 Mar. 2015, www.evergladesholidaypark.com/Everglades-wildlife-threat/.

Marshall, Lillie.                                                                                                              “Danger and Glory in Everglades National Park of Florida.” Around the World “L”, 26 Oct. 2011, www.aroundtheworldl.com/2011/07/26/danger-and-glory-in-everglades-national-park-of-florida/.

Thomas, Cynthia.                                                                                                “Archaeologists Help Preserve the Past, Link to the Future.” Jacksonville District, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, 19 June 2013, www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Stories/Article/479638/archaeologists-help-preserve-the-past-link-to-the-future/

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Everglades National Park.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre, whc.unesco.org/en/list/76.

Image Sources

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/everglades-national-park/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/everglades-national-park-180952529/

The Acropolis Museum: Losing Its Marbles

The Rosetta Stone of Egypt, the Koh-i-Noor Diamond of India, the Parthenon Structures of Greece—time and time again, artifacts find themselves in the hands of a place other than their origin. Better known as the “Elgin Marbles,” these Greek treasures were named after Britain’s Lord Elgin who acquired the pieces from Athens in the early 19th century as an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, going on to sell them to the British Parliament—of which they still reside in today (Sánchez 2017). The cultural patrimony of objects like the Parthenon Structures for the Greeks fuels a long-held debate about whether or not artifacts that are separated from the group or country they originated from “belong” to their respective origins. Who is the keeper of one’s history? Who should be? Where does this history—these artifacts—belong?

The horsemen of the north frieze of the Parthenon housed in the British Museum, all sixty riders arranged in ten ranks.

While there’s great controversy surrounding the truth of the dealings between Elgin, the British Parliament, and the Ottoman authorities, many Greeks argue that the occupying power at the time of the structures’ acquisition did not hold the authority to “give away such a central part of Greek cultural heritage anyway” (Stone 2018). The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, argued that the sculptures give the “maximum public benefit” by remaining in the heart of England (Ward 2014). The trustees of the British Museum often defend these claims by expounding on how their museum’s large and diverse public gains “insight into how ancient Greece influenced and was influenced by the other civilizations that it encountered” (Stone 2018). However, if the purpose of exhibiting artifacts that hold cultural significance to countries other than one’s own is to educate the public on other heritages and their histories without having to travel across the world to do so, why not simply create replicas to use and return the original pieces? It only seems just to return the original Parthenon Structures, created by ancient Athenians themselves, back to the people who actually designed and built them.

A marble caryatid, the one missing piece of the six women figurines that previously supported the Erechtheion on the north side of the Acropolis in Athens.

Representatives of Britain often argue that, even in the British Museum, “the Parthenon sculptures in London are an important representation of ancient Athenian civilization in the context of world history” (Selwood 2018). Yet with the advent of Brexit this coming year, what does this mean for the structures’ cultural importance and historical meaning in the greater context of Europe if they will soon reside outside of the European Union after Britain leaves? Controversially, Britain also loaned a part of the Elgin Marbles, a headless statue of the river god Ilissos, to the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, raising tempers among the Greeks since the pieces were to be shipped to another country—one outside of the EU—but still not to be returned to their rightful home in Athens (Ward 2014). By becoming more conscious of and creating more discourse about the historical and cultural importance of the objects that represent one’s past, we are taking steps to protect and appreciate the geographical heritage of some of the world’s greatest artifacts by bringing them back to their origins.

 

References Cited

Juan Pablo Sánchez

2017 How the Parthenon Lost Its Marbles. National Geographic. Electronic document, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2017/03-04/parthenon-sculptures-british-museum-controversy/, accessed November 16th, 2018.

 

Jon Stone

2018 Greece demands UK open negotiations over the return of the Elgin Marbles. Independent. Electronic document, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-uk-elgin-marbles-british-museum-parthenon-acropolis-athens-a8500726.html, accessed Novemeber 17th, 2018.

 

Janine DeFeo

2011 Which Museums Have the Right to Own World Heritage? Mic. Electronic document, https://mic.com/articles/1852/which-museums-have-the-right-to-own-world-heritage, accessed November 17th, 2018.

 

Victoria Ward

2014 Why are the Elgin marbles so controversial—and everything else you need to know. The Telegraph. Electronic document, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11274713/Why-are-the-Elgin-marbles-so-controversial-and-everything-else-you-need-to-know.html, accessed November 18th, 2018.

 

Ian Jenkins

1994 Greek Architecture and its sculpture in the British Museum. British Museum Press, London, ENG.

 

Image Sources:

Wally Gobetz

2006 The Horsemen of the North Frieze of the Parthenon. Flickr. Electronic document, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/302422841, accessed November 18th, 2018.

 

Trustees of the British Museum

2018 The Parthenon Collection. The British Museum. Electronic document, https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=459389&partId=1, accessed November 18th, 2018.

 

Further Readings:

Dominic Selwood (2018)

How Brexit has revived controversy over the Elgin Marbles in Britain. Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/elgin-marbles-parthenon-sculptures-ancient-greece-british-museum-brexit-a8520406.html

 

Paul Cartledge (2018)

Pressured to Return the Elgin Marbles, Should the British Museum Finally Give Way? Frieze. https://frieze.com/article/pressured-return-elgin-marbles-should-british-museum-finally-give-way

Genetically Modified Organisms

The term genetically modified organism is one that is widely used and also widely misunderstood. Most people imagine a brand-new technology that creates mutant animals and giant monstrous foods like in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In reality, it is but a sophisticated name for something humans have practiced for thousands of years. Every food item we consume is not fully natural or GMO-free because of the way we create and sustain our food source. One of the main problems is the stigma against the actual term GMO and the fact that it is so difficult to define. It has become so controversial that it has fueled social justice causes and has inspired movements, such as the Non-GMO Project.

According to the Non-GMO Project, a GMO is a “plant, animal, microorganism or other organisms whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology” (Non-GMO Project 2016). They then argue that this modification “creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods” (Non-GMO Project 2016). This organization specifically defines GMOs as created in a laboratory and does not acknowledge other techniques such as selective breeding. The Non-GMO Project’s mission is to raise awareness and to preserve sources of non-GMO products. They believe that in order to create a safe, healthy food supply for future generations, “The integrity of our diverse genetic inheritance is essential to human and environmental health and ecological harmony” (Non-GMO Project 2016). Although it is understandable that people want to have “natural,” safe, and healthy foods, the benefits of genetically modified organisms must also be appreciated, especially in the field of social justice.

Image result for teosinte vs corn

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjYr_aSst_eAhUEZN8KHVnbAL8QjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fmonsanto.pr%2Fvegetables-in-action-corn%2F&psig=AOvVaw0aNjQgdluhnTnyHNJ-pHSV&ust=1542680308494308

 

The Banana Xanthomonas Wilt, or BXW, is a bacterial disease that is considered to be one of the “greatest threats to banana productivity and food security in Uganda and eastern Africa” (Senapathy 2017). With the addition of a gene from pepper, a resistance to banana wilt was introduced, until the anti-GMO movement stifled its success (Senapathy 2017. Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts argues that “we need to make sure that we in the developed world understand that it is an indulgence for us to be either for or against a particular food” (Senapathy 2017).

Image result for banana xanthomonas wilt

Symptoms for Banana Xanthomonas Wilt https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjwxOrpst_eAhUQmuAKHdi0CDsQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Ffigure%2FSymptoms-of-Xanthomonas-wilt-disease-A-Banana-plantation-damaged-by-wilt-B-Yellow_fig1_228376000&psig=AOvVaw1LAQT4R0-Yw2K3L6JeIggn&ust=1542680491439645

The terms selective breeding and artificial selection were coined by Charles Darwin. They are not specifically considered to be strictly GMOs in the modern definition but are still the ancestors to our current genetic modification. The earliest evidence of artificial plant selection “dates back to 7800 BCE in archaeological sites found in southwest Asia in wheat” (Rangel 2016). In addition, according to the United Nations, by 2050 humans will need to make 70% more food than we currently do to simply adequately feed the world’s population (Rangel). As these problems rise up and meet the negative aspects of increasing production of GMOS, In short, we must be conscious of our reasons for being against GMOS and determine whether the benefits outweigh the consequences.

Sources

Gabriel Rangel. “From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology.” From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology, Harvard University, 23 Oct. 2016, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/from-corgis-to-corn-a-brief-look-at-the-long-history-of-gmo-technology/.

“Non-GMO Project: Most Trusted Seal.” Non-GMO Project, The Non-GMO Project, 2016,    www.nongmoproject.org/.

Senapathy, Kavin. “The Anti-GMO Movement Has A Social Justice Problem.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 Nov. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/kavinsenapathy/2017/11/20/the-anti-gmo-movement-has-a-social-justice-problem/#439c3733a542.