The Allure of the Archive: On Frustration and Comfort in the Historian’s Craft

As an historian of gender-based violence, I’ve often come across things in my archival research that have made me feel uncomfortable, disgusted, upset and so frustrated that I want to tear my hair out. I’ve also read files that have made me laugh, smile and left me feeling deeply proud and grateful to the women who fought to entrench women’s rights and protect women from violence. For me, the archive represents a host of emotional and physical responses. The memories of back aches from long days spent sitting, of drinking terrible (but cheap) machine coffee and the small pleasure that after months of daily visits, the archivists finally remember me as ‘Frau Freeland.’

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National Education Policy 2020: A Discussion on Educational Policy Reform in India, 14 October 2020

The year 2020 has posed unprecedented challenges for educators all over the world. In India, the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have laid bare the structural inequalities entrenched in all levels of education. Students and teachers have been struggling to cope with the enormous digital divide in a predominantly poor country as teaching was moved online; many teachers and other workers in the private education sector have lost their jobs; severe economic hardship of the migrants, who were forced to leave big cities after a countrywide lockdown, has resulted in an escalation of the number of school and college drop-outs.

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Medieval Notions of Consent and Contemporary Social Cohesion: Impressions from Workshop ‘Law and Consent in Medieval Britain’, 30 October 2020

On Monday, 2 November 2020, a video posted on Twitter showed the owner of a soft play centre from Liverpool rejecting COVID-19 regulations, citing Clause 61 of Magna Carta. This historical agreement between the English king and his magnates was first concluded in 1215. In the owner’s opinion, the police had no right to close his business since—he argued—the medieval document showed that government authorities were bound by law and had to be resisted if they encroached on central personal liberties. This claim immediately provoked reactions from historians of the Middle Ages, who rightly pointed out that although parts of Magna Carta are, indeed, still part of English Law today, Clause 61 is no longer in force. In fact, it was removed in 1216, when the agreement was revised after King John’s death.

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The Media, Feminism and Women’s Emancipation: The International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment

In late 2017, #MeToo began trending on Twitter. Taken up in response to growing allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood, it quickly became a tangible way for women to show the pervasive nature of gender-based violence and harassment. #MeToo sparked a movement and global reckoning with gender inequality and revealed the mass mobilizing power of social media.

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‘Is this home? Not so much!’ – Gender, Ethnicity and Belongingness to the City

Lily and Esther have been in New Delhi for 17 and 22 years respectively. The former came to the city as a fresh graduate to pursue a Masters and the latter, to do an undergraduate degree. They have several things in common, despite differences in their ages and experience. Both belong to the north-eastern states of India, though from a different city and tribe. One identifies herself as a Naga, the other as a Mizo. Their ethnic identities, they point out, are evident from their facial features – a flat nose, small eyes and a heavily accented Hindi they speak.

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The Greedy Dog – Gestures, Postures and Emotions Portraying Degrees of Vice and Virtue in the Sixteenth-Century Iyār-i Dānish

An outstanding illustration preserved as a detached folio in the Chicago Art Museum, attributed to the Mughal artist Farrukh Chela, illustrates the fable of the ‘Greedy Dog’ which forms one of the significant narratives from the Iyār-i Dānish,1 a collection of stories written by Emperor Akbar’s historian and confidant, Abul Fazl, and illustrated in 1595–1600.

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  1. The Iyār-i Dānish was a collection of animal fables, whose tales served as an educational ‘mirror for princes’ for Mughal emperors. It was translated from an earlier version composed in Timurid Herat (present day Afghanistan) during the fifteenth century, and was illustrated multiple times by Mughal artists during the final quarter of the sixteenth century. []

Manuscript News Sheets: A Neglected Medium of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe

At the turn of the eighteenth century, newspapers had established themselves as the principal port of call for readers with a strong taste for current affairs. One hundred years after the first newspaper had been printed in Strasbourg in 1605, the new medium had spread to all parts of western and central Europe.

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Germans, the Dutch East India Company, and Early Colonial South Africa

Germans were the largest foreign European group in the Dutch empire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They worked for the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) in its territories along the Indian Ocean, stretching from present-day South Africa to Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Initially serving on temporary labour contracts as officials, sailors, and soldiers, soon Germans began to stay in the Dutch overseas territories for good. Some continued to work for the Company for the rest of their lives, while others applied for citizenship and became farm holders, teachers, ministers, or tradesmen.

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