- Language Log reports on the transliterations of "Trump" into Chinese and Chinese social networks.
- Marginal Revolution shares Jill Lepore's argument that modern dystopian fiction deals with submission to the worst, not resistance.
- At the NYRB Daily, Tim Flannery notes how Trump's withdrawal from Paris is bad for the environment and for the American economy.
- Peter Rukavina's photo of stormclouds over Charlottetown is eye-catching. (I have not heard of "dark off" myself.)
- Savage Minds announces a MOOC ANTH 101 course starting tomorrow.
- Window on Eurasia argues that Putin can afford to be aggressive because he is not constrained by Communist ideology.
Early in January, before my trip to Montréal, I went to the Royal Ontario Museum where I saw--among other things--the museum's copy of Benjamin Wolfe's painting The Death of General Wolfe. This famous tableau's depiction of the death of James Wolfe, the commander of the victorious British forces in 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham that saw the fall of French Canada and the end of New France but who barely lived to see the end of the battle himself, is literally iconic. This moment marks the end of one empire and the expansion of another.
Was the end of New France inevitable? Quite a few fans of alternate history suggest that it was. In perhaps the classic few, the value of France to colonize its North American territories nearly as thoroughly as England (and later the United Kingdom) did theirs ensured that, ultimately, New France would be overwhelmed by the colonists. Some even go so far as to argue that New France was a failing colony, that the failure to expand French colonization much beyond the Saint Lawrence valley demonstrates a fundamental lack of French interest. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham was irrelevant.
I'm not sure that I buy this. Conceivably there could have been more French settlement in New France, perhaps with a bigger push under Louis XIV, but it isn't clear to me that France in America was a failure. New France's economy was built substantially on trade with indigenous peoples and not on (for instance) the plantation colony of many British colonies, making increased French settlement irrelevant at best and potentially harmful at worst. As it was, French Canada was actually a dynamic society, the St. Lawrence valley becoming home of a colonial offshoot of France with outposts stretching far west into the basin of the Great Lakes and, not incidentally, managing to hold off conquest by the British for nearly a century and a half. New France was not nearly as populous as the Thirteen Colonies, but that no more proves that New France was a failure than (say) the fact that Spain's Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was less populous than Portuguese Brazil means that the Spanish colony was a failure. At most, there was underexploited potential. If French Canada has since largely contracted to the frontiers of modern Québec, it is because successive British administrations have taken care to hem it in.
Had the Battle of the Plains of Abraham gone even slightly differently, there could have been a French victory. The end of the Seven Years War could have seen the French flag continue to fly in Canada. Even if Canada had fallen, that it would be kept by Britain was by no means preordained: Had Britain preferred to keep the valuable French sugar island of Guadeloupe, or had the French government different priorities, Canada might have been restored to France in the peace.
What would this surviving French Canada have been like?
It's certainly possible that a continued French presence in Canada would have helped discourage the Thirteen Colonies from rebelling against the British Empire, especially if it was perceived as a threat. It's not clear to me that this would automatically be the case, especially if New France had been weakened in the conflict, demilitarized and/or territorially diminished. Perhaps, in this timeline, the Americans might revolt against Britain in anger that their interests were neglected in the settlement of the final peace. We might not see a conflict like the War of American Independence, but then again we might. If this war, or another great power Anglo-French war does come about, then France will face the same cascade of dysfunctional public financies than in our history triggered the revolution.
What will become of Canada in all this? I can imagine that it might, or might not, receive more attention from France. I suppose that, if history runs along the lines we are familiar with up to the French Revolution, Canada might be in an interesting position versus the metropole. (A French kingdom in exile?) It is imaginable that a populous French Canada might stay French, especially if the Americans are allies and Britain has interest elsewhere. The case can be made that French Canada could survive, within borders not wildly different from that of modern Canada, into the 19th century.
Here, I'm stymied. It is not easy to imagine the development of French Canada as a French territory for the simple reason that France had no colonies of settlement like (for instance) Britain had Canada. French Algeria eventually became a destination for European immigration, but most of these immigrants came from elsewhere in the western Mediterranean (Spain and Italy particularly) and they arrived in a territory that never stopped being overwhelmingly Arab-Berber and Muslim in nature. New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, also received substantial numbers of settlers relative to the native population, but the absolute numbers were low. There is no close parallel, not in the second French colonial empire, to a colony like Canada, a vast semi-continent with a substantial population mostly descended from French colonists.
I do think France could certainly colonize Canada as thoroughly as Britain later did, especially if France enjoys stability and peace. Franco-Canadian relations were broken by the Conquest and only began to pick up again a century later, as the French became dimly aware that the Canadiens survived. In a timeline where the relationship between France and Canada was never disrupted, Franco-Canadian relations would be far more intense. Trade and investment flows aside, we might see well see substantial amounts of French immigration to a prosperous Canada, and more immigrants coming from outside France, just as in the case of Algeria. The details depend critically on the borders of this Canada and its relationship to its neighbours, but I see no reason why French Canada could not be successful.
Even if--a big if--French history remains largely unchanged up to the mid-19th century, the existence of a large, populous, and growing French Canada will eventually change the French polity rapidly. How will the millions of Canadiens be represented in French political life? A populous American branch of the French empire will have very substantial consequences.
What do you think?
- blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.
- Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.
- The Dragon's Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.
- The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump's interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.
- The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump's anti-vax positions.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country's oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization's involvement in Filipino real estate.
- Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.
- Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.
- blogTO notes the Distillery District's Toronto Light Festival.
- Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.
- Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry's expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.
- The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.
- Marginal Revolution looks at China's very heavy investment in Laos.
- The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.
- Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.
- Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.
- blogTO notes the continued rise in rental prices for apartments.
- Centauri Dreams looks at a time in the Earth's history when there was a lot of atmospheric oxygen but not much life.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting there is an authentic lack of gas giant planets beyond 10 AU.
- Itching for Eestimaa notes the British politicians who favoured the recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltics, and notes that those imperialist times of old are back.
- The Map Room Blog notes that Trump voters tend to prefer Duck Dynasty and Clinton voters preferred Family Guy.
- Marginal Revolution notes California's ban on funding travel to jurisdictions which discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation or gender.
- Peter Watts describes a trip on hallucinogens.
- The NYRB Daily shares Masha Gessen's concerns about the threat of moral authority.
- Spacing links to some article about improving bike infrastructure.
- Window on Eurasia warns of a new consolidation of Russian federal units.
- blogTO notes that TTC tunnels will get WiFi in 2018.
- Border Thinking's Laura Augustín shares some of Edvard Munch's brothel paintings.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the latest science on fast radio bursts.
- Dangerous Minds shares some of the sexy covers of Yugoslavian computer magazine Računari.
- Dead Things looks at the latest research into dinosaur eggs.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting that a high surface magnetic field in a red giant star indicates a recent swallowing of a planet.
- Language Log shares an ad for a portable smog mask from China.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with the idea of NAFTA being of general benefit to Mexico.
- Torontoist looks at the history of Toronto General Hospital.
- Window on Eurasia is skeptical about an American proposal for Ukraine, and suggests Ossetian reunification within Russia is the next annexation likely to be made by Russia.
- Anthropology.net describes an effort to digitize tapes recording Navajo oral history.
- Centauri Dreams remembers Vera Rubin.
- D-Brief looks
- Dangerous Minds shares a 1984 TV clip featuring George Michael and Morrissey talking about Joy Division.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting a gas giant exoplanet might be indicated by a protoplanetary disk.
- Language Log reports on how Chinese netizens are criticizing pollution through the mockery of official slogans.
- Language Hat looks at the question of how the word "pecan" is pronounced.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues political science is not a science at all, like economics.
- The NYRB Daily notes that the shared inability of Trump and Putin to plan things and account for unexpected consequences does not lend itself to optimism.
- Window on Euruasia looks at Tatarstan's issues with regional transfer funding in Russia and shares an apocalyptic account of what will happen to Ukraine in the Russian sphere of influence.
- The Big Picture shares photos from ruined Aleppo.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the new explanation for the ASASSN-15h, of a Sun-mass star torn apart by a fast-rotating black hole.
- The Crux looks at the condition of hyperemesis gravidarum.
- Dangerous Minds shares the dark and Satanic art of an Argentine artist.
- Joe. My. God. reports on one man's displeasure that Malta has banned ex-gay "therapy".
- Language Log looks at where British law confronts linguistics.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money imagines an alternate history where Jill Stein leaves the presidential race and gives Hillary Clinton a needed victory.
- Peter Rukavina recalls the simple yet effective early version of Hansard for the Island legislative assembly.
- Mark Simpson notes the objectification of men on the new Baywatch.
- Window on Eurasia fears the violence of an open Russian imperialism and looks at the confusion over how to recognize the 1917 revolution.
- blogTO shares photos of Toronto streets in the 1960s, cluttered by signage.
- Crooked Timber and the LRB Blog respond to the death of Fidel Castro.
- Far Outliers looks at the exploitative but functional British treatment of servants.
- Language Hat notes the insensitivity of machine translation and examines the evolution of the Spanish language.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money advocates for an energized public response to racist displays in Trump's America.
- The Map Room Blog looks at a controversial Brexit art exhibition.
- Marginal Revolution notes a pay by the minute coffee shop in Brooklyn.
- The NYRB Daily shares images of Hokusai.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares beautiful space photos.
- Window on Eurasia notes how terror famines were used to russify peripheral areas of the Soviet Union, reports on strengthening religion among younger Daghestanis, and suggests there will be larger Russian deployments in Belarus.
- blogTO notes how expensive Toronto's rental market is.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system.
- Crooked Timber engages with the complexities of racism.
- The Crux shares some oral history about the detection of the first gravitational wave.
- The Dragon's Gaze reports about the difficulties involved with detecting exoplanets around red dwarfs and describes the discovery of a super-Earth orbiting an orange dwarf in the Pleiades.
- Joe. My. God. notes that New York City ended free web browsing at browsing stations because people kept looking up porn.
- Language Log notes that a partially shared script does not make Chinese readable by speakers of Japanese, and vice versa.
- Marginal Revolution cautions against the idea that Brexit is over.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer talks about the usefulness of counterfactuals, especially good counterfactuals.
- Torontoist argues that the TTC needs more cats. Why not?
- The Volokh Conspiracy links to a comparative global study of settlements in occupied territories.
- Window on Eurasia reports that Google has displaced television as a primary source of news for Russians.
- News of Proxima Centauri b spread across the blogosphere yesterday, to Discover's D-Brief and Crux, to Joe. My. God., to the Planetary Society Blog, and to Centauri Dreams and The Dragon's Gaze.
- blogTO notes the impending opening of Toronto's first Uniqlo and suggests TTC buses may soon have a new colour scheme.
- The Dragon's Gaze discusses detecting exo-Titans and looks at the Kepler-539 system.
- Marginal Revolution notes Poland's pension obligations.
- The Map Room Blog looks at how empty maps are of use to colonialists.
- Steve Munro examines traffic on King Street.
- The NYR Daily looks at what an attic of ephemera reveals about early Islam.
- Otto Pohl announces his arrival in Kurdistan.
- The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia note that more than half of Russia's medal-winners at the Olympics were not ethnically Russian, at least not wholly.
- Window on Eurasia looks at Ukraine's balance sheet 25 years after independence and considers if Belarus is on the way to becoming the next Ukraine.
Guilherme Leite Gonçalves and Sérgio Costa's Open Democracy essay looks at the changing functions of the port of Rio de Janeiro. In some of its broad outlines, the story that it tells is familiar.
The port district of Rio de Janeiro is one of the areas most affected by urban interventions connected to the August 2016 Olympics. Until very recently, business groups, politicians, investors and the mainstream media saw the port district as a devalued and degraded space, isolated from the rest of the city. In fact, the entire region had low market value and was of little interest for real estate investments, commercial transactions and services. Even the port itself was of little significance when compared to other Brazilian ports. Therefore, the region was located “outside” the process of capitalist accumulation.
This situation changed completely in November 2009. About a month after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the Olympics, the Porto Maravilha project became public. This project catalyzed actions and economic, political and cultural expectations, restructuring the entire port district in order to create value.
Contrary to appearances, this phenomenon is not new. It is a new venue for a history that repeats itself. In its various stages, the port of Rio de Janeiro was marked by different landmarks of capitalist dynamic that both repelled and attracted spaces, processes and market relations, according to the needs of accumulation. This is a history marked by actors, forces and social pressures alternating in a continuous movement of commodification, decommodification and re-commodification – of people, goods and activities.
Since Rosa Luxemburg, in fact, Marxist political economists have realized that the accumulation of capital is not limited to a purely economic process between capitalists and workers in the production of surplus value. Seeing as only a relative portion of the surplus value can be appropriated in this internal transit, the system must make use of a non-capitalist “outside” to completely appropriate it.
Accordingly, the system makes use of explicit non-economic violence, including colonial or imperial policies, dispossessions, bloody legislation etc. There is, in other words, a repeated primitive accumulation throughout the history of capitalism. This repetition is required by capitalist expansion itself, which must commodify not yet commodified spaces in order to develop.
The various historical stages of this phenomenon are evident in the port district of Rio de Janeiro, as this space is incorporated in and uncoupled from a process that transforms socially constructed spaces into merchandise.
From its creation until the nineteenth century, the port took part in the classical patterns of primitive accumulation by integrating Brazil into world capitalism through the outflow of sugar, then gold and coffee, in addition to the inflow of manufactured goods and a contingent of about two million Africans that were kidnapped, enslaved and traded. This port received the highest number of enslaved Africans in the entire American continent. The right to provide such service was restricted to a private contractor: the Governor’s brother.
However, since its beginnings, the physical space of the port was itself integrated into various forms of accumulation. The first major traffic increase took place in the early seventeenth century and was connected to the outflow of sugar. In 1618, this traffic led Governor Rui Vaz Pinto to publish a legal decree establishing the use of black slaves to load and unload ships. It was clearly a mechanism meant to take over the space to create value, as only slaveholders were able to load goods in the port. This decree also represented the beginning of regular stevedoring services and established their legal system, namely the privilege or monopoly, since the right to provide such service was restricted to a private contractor: the Governor’s brother.
- blogTO notes laneway crawls in Toronto and notes a vacant lot in Leslieville is set to become a community market.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at atmospheric nitrogen on Earth and Venus.
- Joe. My. God. confirms Prince's death as a consequence of an opioid overdose.
- The LRB Blog notes the importance of Felix the Cat in television broadcasting.
- The Map Room Blog notes a collection of Atlantic Canadian maps.
- Marginal Revolution talks about Indians taking good lessons from the Raj as well.
- Peter Watts crows at the success of cephalopods on the changing Earth.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the weakness of the Mexican welfare state.
- Window on Eurasia notes the concentration of Russians in a bit more than a dozen major cities.
- blogTO notes the warning of the Royal Bank of Canada that the city has too many condos.
- D-Brief notes how patterns of glucose consumption in the brain can distinguish between people capable of consciousness and those otherwise.
- Dangerous Minds notes the Victorian tradition of post-mortem photographs.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that, apparently, our knowledge of nearby brown dwarfs is limited.
- The Dragon's Tales considers the impact of close encounters with massive passing bodies on the crusts of ice moons.
- Joe. My. God. notes the criticism of Peter Thiel, funder of attacks against Gawker, by Gawker's founder as a comic book villain.
- Language Log notes early efforts to promote a single standard for the Russian language in the Soviet era.
- The Map Room Blog shares the new map of the London subway system.
- The Russian Demographics Blog charts the sources of different countries' immigrant populations.
- Window on Eurasia notes the popularity of imperialism in Russia.
- The Boston Globe's Big Picture reports on the scene from Palmyra after the expulsion of ISIS.
- James Bow links to a documentary on the search for Planet Nine.
- The Dragon's Tales speculates that the ability to enter torpor might have saved mammals from the en of the Cretaceous extinction.
- Honourary Canadian Philip Turner discovers the Chiac dialect of the Acadians of the Maritimes.
- Joe. My. God. notes that Afrika Bambaataa has been accused of molesting young boys.
- Language Hat reports on the renaming of the Czech Republic "Czechia."
- Marginal Revolution notes Singapore has a graciousness index.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reflects on Australia's upcoming elections.
- pollotenchegg maps the 2012 elections in Ukraine.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer explains how American investment in the Philippines was made impossible, so as to avoid welding that country to the US.
- The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper examining contraception and abortion among the Czechs and Slovaks in recent decades.
- Towleroad notes Ted Cruz' disinterest in protecting gay people.
- Window on Eurasia notes the scale of Russia's demographic problems, report the debate on whether Russia will or will not annex South Ossetia, and suggest Russia is losing influence in Central Asia.
- The Financial Times' The World predicts the end for Dilma Rousseff.
- The Atlantic's James Parker explains the unique power of the lyrics of David Bowie.
- Asia Times notes how the Korean Wave is an issue among some Vietnamese, who remember South Korean military atrocities during the Vietnam War.
- The Toronto Star looks at the legacy of Toronto's Hammy the Hamster.
- Northeasternontario.com explores the legacy of northern Ontario's Highway Book Shop.
- The Inter Press Service features an opinion piece on the need to decolonize education, starting from the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa.
- Open Democracy describes, from the Russian and the Ukrainian perspectives, just how badly Russia-Ukraine cultural relations have fallen since 2014.
- Vulture features an insightful interview with RuPaul on, among other things, drag and contemporary gay culture.
Broadly speaking, I agree with the movement to return a looted Nigerian artwork as described in the National Post by Javier Espinoza's article, originally published in The Telegraph.
Nigerian officials have already made plans for the repatriation from Britain of the controversial bronze “Cambridge cockerel” and its return to a royal palace, documents reveal.
It is understood the Nigerian minister of culture has been closely following a push by students at Cambridge University’s Jesus College to repatriate the statue, which was looted by British forces in the 19th century.
Sources said keeping the statue in the royal palace of Benin in Nigeria would be “in line with current protocol,” after which it would be decided if it belongs in a museum.
Jesus College this week confirmed the statue, which has long held pride of place in the college’s dining hall, is to be taken down and a debate about its future will be held.
If it is decided that it should be repatriated, it would be taken to the Nigerian royal palace, the documents showed.
The Atlantic's Adrienne Lafrance examines how Facebook stumbled into a needless confrontation over colonialism in India.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.
First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”
After that, the Internet went nuts.
Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”
The kerfuffle elicited a torrent of criticism for Andreessen, but the connection he made—between Facebook’s global expansion and colonialism—is nothing new. Which probably helps explain why Zuckerberg felt the need to step in, and which brings us back to Free Basics. The platform, billed by Facebook as a way to help people connect to the Internet for the first time, offers a stripped-down version of the mobile web that people can use without it counting toward their data-usage limit.
This Canadian Press article does, in fact, describe an absurd situation. Who thought this was a good idea?
It’s a “grave insult” that a national park in Prince Edward Island still bears the name of a military general who wanted to kill aboriginal people with smallpox, says a Mi’kmaq leader.
John Joe Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation traditional government, says the name of 18th-century British military commander Jeffery Amherst should be removed from the Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst historic site near Charlottetown.
“Why should they name any public place after a barbarian and a tyrant that this guy was?” Mr. Sark said Monday from Johnstons River, PEI.
“He may be a hero to the colonial government or the Settlers’ Society or whatever, but he’s no hero to the Mi’kmaq people.”
He has written to the federal government in a bid that adds fuel to an ongoing debate about how historic figures are honoured across Canada and the United States.
- On Livejournal, bitterlawngnome shares some remarkable vintage print ads from the early 20th century.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that robots installed the mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the abundant water ice on the surface of Pluto.
- Joe. My. God. and Towleroad note the imprisonment of Philadelphia gaybasher Kathryn Knott.
- Language Hat explores college girl fiction.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Marco Rubio's encounter with a gay man in New Hampshire.
- Marginal Revolution notes the global market for super-butlers.
- Steve Munro considers how Smarttrack and GO will co-exist.
- Otto Pohl compares nation-building in Central Asia with that in the Middle East.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes a conference held in Moscow on Muslims and their space in that city.