In the early 1990s, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington developed his famous “clash of civilizations” theory. In it he argued that history is driven by distinct international forces, like Islam and the west, competing for supremacy. This seemed to be illustrated by the events of 9/11. However, delivering this lecture at the University of Sydney, world-renowned political scientist Peter Katzenstein argued that the view that civilizations comprise of homogeneous racial and religious groups is simplistic and untrue. Rather, civilizations are pluralistic and highly diverse within themselves, and more likely to engage with each other than to clash.
German born, American based academic Peter J. Katzenstein is the President of the American Political Science Association and the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. He received his PhD at Harvard University, and also has degrees from the London School of Economics and Swarthmore College. He has written several books and articles on political science and international relations, his latest book “Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in World Politics” will be published in 2010.
A similarly themed and well-known lecture by Edward Said called “The Myth of Culture Clash” :
The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past was the second major documentary series made by British film-maker Adam Curtis. This series investigated the way that history and memory (both national and individual) have been used by politicians and others. It was transmitted on BBC Two in the spring of 1995.
On the Desperate Edge of Now
The title of this episode comes from a veteran’s description of what the uncertainty of survival in combat is like. It examined how the various national memories of the Second World War were effectively rewritten and manipulated in the Cold War period.
For Germany, this began at the Nuremberg Trials, where attempts were made to prevent the Nazis in the dock—principally Hermann Göring—from offering any rational argument for what they had done. Subsequently, however, bringing lower-ranking Nazis to justice was effectively forgotten about in the interests of maintaining West Germany as an ally in the Cold War.
For the Allies, faced with a new enemy in the Soviet Union, there was a need to portray World War II as a crusade of pure good against pure evil, even if this meant denying the memories of the Allied soldiers who had actually done the fighting, and knew it to have been far more complex. A number of American veterans related how years later they found themselves plagued with the previously-suppressed memories of the brutal things they had seen and done.
You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough
The title of this episode comes from a paranoid schizophrenic seen in archive film in the programme, who believed her neighbours were using her as a source of amusement by denying her any privacy, like a pet goldfish.
In this episode, the history of brainwashing and mind control was examined. The angle pursued by Curtis was the way in which historically psychiatry pursued tabula rasa theories of the mind, initially in order to set people free from traumatic memories and then later as a potential instrument of social control. The work of Ewen Cameron was surveyed, with particular reference to Cold War theories of communist brainwashing and the search for hypnoprogammed assassins.
This programme’s thesis was that the search for control over the past via medical intervention had had to be abandoned and that in modern times control over the past is more effectively exercised by the manipulation of history. Some footage from this episode, an interview with one of Cameron’s victims, was later re-used by Curtis in The Century of the Self series.
In this episode, the Imperial aspirations of Margaret Thatcher were examined. The way in which Mrs Thatcher used public relations in an attempt to emulate Winston Churchill in harking back to Britain’s “glorious past” to fulfil a political or national end.
The title is a reference to the attic flat at the top of 10 Downing Street, which was created during Thatcher’s period refurbishment of the house, which did away with the Prime Minister’s previous living quarters on lower floors. Scenes from the psychological horror film The Innocents (1961) (a film adaptation of Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw) are intercut with scenes from Thatcher’s reign.
The Earth’s magnetic field varies on many time scales, waxing and waning in strength, and periodically completely reversing direction. The geologic record of these variations provides important information on the history of our planet. Join Scripps Oceanography geoscientist Jeff Gee for a fascinating glimpse into his fieldwork in paleomagnetism — from autonomous aircraft measurements over the open ocean to exploration of rock exposures in remote regions of Antarctica. Series: Perspectives on Ocean Science
The embedded video skips the introduction. YouTube offers the option to download the video as a mp4 file.
Richard Prins' collection of pseudorandom perceptions