Brains drained: Some thoughts on the Canada 150 Research Chairs

Canadian academics and perhaps a handful of other people will have heard over the last month or so of a new program: the "Canada 150 Research Chairs". This is a version of the long established Canada Research Chair program, by which generously funded chairs in  all manner of disciplines are allotted to universities across Canada … Continue reading Brains drained: Some thoughts on the Canada 150 Research Chairs

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Moving Targets

To move is to invite suspicion. For the period I study -- and perhaps especially in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries -- perhaps no word captures the variety of phenomena that exposed marginal people to the scrutiny of observers and the machinations of the state so much as "mobility." Homelessness, vagrancy, wandering, roaming the streets, running up … Continue reading Moving Targets

Against an Academic Boycott. For Now.

Many colleagues and friends whose ethical and scholarly judgment I greatly respect are calling for an academic boycott of the United States. Or, more specifically, a boycott of US-based academic conferences, which are probably the most frequent form of professional contact many of us have with US soil. A petition is doing the rounds. I waver on this both … Continue reading Against an Academic Boycott. For Now.

Alternatives to Reality: Bush, Trump, Empire, and Alt-Facts

"You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that."[1] "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's … Continue reading Alternatives to Reality: Bush, Trump, Empire, and Alt-Facts

Historians under Trump

We are witnessing -- more than that, experiencing -- events that seem certain to be remembered as a turning point in the history of the United States, part of a series that is changing the political horizons of much of the world. Our knowledge is partial and the future unwritten. But the collapse of a familiar (and flawed) order, the destabilization … Continue reading Historians under Trump

Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 2

As noted in my last, I'd like to say a little more about a specific thread of Trumpism that seems to have gained traction among people who might not otherwise choose to identify publicly with a bigot. This is the idea that as a super-rich bigot, Trump is exempt from the kinds of corruption that infect politicians … Continue reading Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 2

Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 1

It's a cliché that Americans are particularly prone to idolize the wealthy. This is sometimes interpreted as a result of the once-revolutionary belief in meritocracy, an elevation of personal achievement and discipline over the sources of status prized by the ancien régime: land and lineage, culture and manners -- in short, to pick an overloaded word, … Continue reading Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 1