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Post New Latin America Column in *The Economist*; WAISers Respond
Created by John Eipper on 01/03/14 10:37 AM

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New Latin America Column in *The Economist*; WAISers Respond (John Eipper, USA, 01/03/14 10:37 am)

The responses have poured in to John Recchiuti's note of this morning. Rather than post each one individually, I'll assemble them below:

from Rodolfo Neirotti: I respectfully suggest to name the Latin America column "San Martin." "Sarmiento" could be another option. [JE: Sarmiento, like me, is a U Michigan PhD, so I'm a big fan. But he was quite parochial, and had a very Euro-centric vision for Argentina.  So how about a Chilean focus? See David Duggan, below.]

from David Duggan:  I like "O'Higgins": it trips off the Anglophone tongue, it represents the revolutionary fervor that has enveloped Latin America for two centuries, and it represents the multi-cultural diversity of the Southern Hemisphere (though not a Latinist, I understand that there are more Italian-Argentines than there are Italian-Americans, not to mention a lot of Germano-Brazilians, etc. etc.). Also, being of Irish descent, I believe it is time for The Economist to recognize that some of the first empirical proofs of economic policy were conducted in Ireland (viz., the corn laws that led to the potato famine). And there are a lot of Scotch-Irish in Latin America (Buenos Aires's leading furniture store has the Duggan name.)  [JE:  Parque O'Higgins, Banco O'Higgins, Fútbol Club O'Higgins, Avenida O'Higgins, and an entire province or "Región" named, succinctly enough, O'Higgins.  Chile, in an o'word, is O'Higginsland.  Great suggestion, but see my remark on parochialism, above.]

from Francisco Wong-Díaz:  I suggest "Portada."  [JE:  I'm impressed by the journalistic significance, as well as the reference to "puerta" or door:  note that Euro banknotes all have some sort of door on them.]

from John Heelan:  How about "The Columbian Exchange" in recognition of the 15th-16th century growth of economies and trade routes between the Old World and the New World while giving a grateful nod to Columbus himself, without whom such a development might not have happened?  [JE:  Nice.  Bolívar has been disqualified, but he did propose the name "Gran Colombia" for his failed pet project, the unified Spanish republics of America.]

from Anthony J. Candil:  I like the idea of having a column dedicated to Latin America, good job for The Economist!  As for a name, how about "Conversation in the Cathedral," after Nobel Prize Mario Vargas Llosa?  [JE:  "Five Hundred Years of Solitude" might work, too.]

JE comments:  This has been a great conversation, both in and outside the Cathedral.  Since the deadline looms, I'll forward this entire thread to The Economist and see if they take any of our suggestions.  My final vote:  Sor Juana, in honor of the Continent's first polymath intellectual, first feminist, and greatest poet:  Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

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  • Emigration from Italy, 1861-1985 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/04/14 4:24 AM)
    With reference to JE's post of 3 January, I wish to make a small clarification to what David Duggan wrote about the number of Italian immigrants to the Americas from 1861 through 1985:

    USA/Canada      6,201,000

    Argentina           2,941,000

    Brazil                 1,432,000

    Australia              395,000

    Germany           3,458,000

    France               6,322,000

    Switzerland        3,458,000

    Others               3,682,000

    The peak of emigration was in the year prior to WWI; in 1913 the number reached 873,000.

    With the Fascist Government the conditions changed, and it was not necessary any more to go to foreign nations.

    However, many Italians were induced to move into Libya and East Africa, where nice villages, roads, and cultivated fields were built not only for the Italians but also for the locals.

    After WWII the emigration of Italians started again, especially by all the Italians kicked out of their homes in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia (the new democratic parties and governments did not like to have them in Italy), but also from Africa. For instance, in Tunisia prior to WWII, the Italian Community reached a peak of 150,000, and in the first months of 1943 many Italians from Tunisia enrolled as volunteers in the Black Shirts for the last stand of fighting against the advancing Allies.

    By 1985 the emigration was almost finished, although now with the crisis it has resumed. Now those who are emigrating are the young fellows with the highest levels of education, while new immigrants keep arriving from the rest of the world (more then 6,000,000 by now). They have difficulties finding jobs and housing due to said crisis.

    JE comments: I never would have suspected that more Italians emigrated to France than to any nation in the Americas.  But the numbers provided by Eugenio Battaglia give me pause:  for example, the present population of Switzerland is just over eight million--could almost half of them (3.4 million) be of Italian background?  In any case, I'd like to know more about the Italian community in Libya.  Did (m)any of them remain after WWII, and into the Gaddafi years?

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    • Italians in Libya (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/04/14 4:00 PM)
      A few comments in response to JE's questions to my post of 4 January:

      The Italians arrived militarily in Libya in October 1911, officially obtaining the territory from the Ottoman Empire one year later.

      Due to their involvement in WWI, the Italian presence was very light and in fact the Senussi, Arab followers of the Sanusiyya Muslim sect, took control of a large part of the Cyrenaica until the Italian reaction in the years 1930-'31. In September 1931, the Muslim leader Omar al-Mukhtar was made prisoner, put on trial and condemned to hang for his crimes against prisoners both Italian and local. Afterwards there were no more problems, and the wide-scale immigration of Italians started.

      Mussolini in 1934 decided for a strong policy favorable to the locals, calling them the Italian Muslims of the Fourth Bank of Italy.

      Governor Balbo, extremely favorable to integration, started a wide plan of building infrastructure. At the start of WWII, already 26 new small towns were built for Italians and 10 somewhat larger towns for the Arabs/Berbers. Each town was connected by new roads to the others, each one had its church/mosque, schools, hospitals, cinema, aqueducts, cultivated fields, etc.

      In 1939 the main towns of Tripoli, Derna, Bengasi and Misurata became county seats and annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, while to the Arabs/Berbers was granted special Italian citizenship with the same rights as the Italians. From such ongoing plans it may be argued that Italy was not planning to go to war. By the way the other European powers with colonies did not appreciate the Italians' liberal policies in Libya.

      At 31 December 1939 the inhabitants of Libya numbered 924,713, of whom 118,738 were Italian. Tripoli had 113,370 inhabitants, including 47,412 Italians.

      During the war the Arabs/Berbers gallantly fought with more than 30,000 soldiers on the side of Italians until the end. To the chagrin of Churchill, the British did not find support from them.

      After the war most of the Italians had to return to Italy, but they did not receive any reprisals from the locals.

      When Gaddafi took power in 1970, he expelled the last 20,000 Italians still remaining in Libya, confiscating all their properties. They founded an Association looking for the refund of their lost properties but without success, both from the Italian and Libyan governments.

      In the first years of the 2000s, relations between Italy with Libya were truly very good, and many Italian technicians went to work in Libya in new construction and in the oil industry.

      Of course the war against Gaddafi, in spite of my personal absolute dislike for him, was self-defeating. If one were to think the worst (and doing so, quite often it is possible to be right), one might say that the British and France support to the rebels against Gaddafi in reality was given to eliminate the great influence that Italy was achieving in Libya and in its oil industry.

      Long live United Europe!?

      JE comments:  Interesting.  German colonization in Africa has also been characterized as more humane and generous than the French, Belgian, and British versions.  How much of this, I must ask, is due to the short-lived presence of Germany and Italy as colonizing powers?  More to the point, is there a tinge of nostalgia in these benevolent descriptions?  The anti-colonial movements following WWII did not have to fight against Germany or Italy.

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      • Germans in Namibia: "The Kaiser's Holocaust" (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 01/11/14 3:44 AM)
        In connection with JE's comment, "German colonization in Africa has also been characterized as more humane and generous than the French, Belgian, and British versions" (see Eugenio Battaglia, 5 January), just a quick note to say that German colonization in Africa resulted in the first genocide of the 20th century, namely, that of the Nama and the Herero in Namibia in 1902-1905, which resulted in the almost complete obliteration of these peoples.

        I recommend the recent book by Casper Erichsen and David Olusoga, The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide (London: Faber & Faber, 2010).

        This is the more thorough study to date of this episode, which as Erichsen and Olusoga amply demonstrate, included concentration camps, hard labor, medical experiments and, in general, an utter disregard for human life and dignity.

        The authors explore the ideological roots of the appalling behavior of German settlers and military in South-West Africa, and how this had an impact in what happened in Europe several decades afterwards.

        The very late German colonialist drive came into being in Bismarckian Germany, and was very much informed by Prussian militarism and by "social Darwinism," which in its more extreme forms predicated the "unavoidable" extinction of native peoples under the greater power of the colonizers.

        In general, British colonialism, with all its faults, never fell so low, and, certainly in the colonies of southern Africa, was checked by missionaries and, in general, by a public opinion that would never have approved of the kind of wholesale atrocities that took place in Namibia.

        On the other hand, the "colonial rule of law" that prevailed in British possessions, although certainly biased in favor of Europeans, also served as a check for the kind of things that took place in German South-West Africa even before the Herero insurrection.

        I don't know much about what happened in other German colonies (all of them acquired from the 1880s onwards, and some of them, like the Caroline and Mariana islands, bought from Spain in 1899), but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the native populations didn't fare very well under German rule.

        JE comments:  How sad a story.  I've already ordered the Erichsen and Olusoga book, which promises to be as distressing a read as Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost, about Belgium's barbaric exploitation of the Congo.  My thanks to José Manuel de Prada for setting the record straight on Germany's short-lived but brutal presence in Namibia.

        Thank you for your excellent WAIS posts of 2013, José Manuel, and all the best for the New Year.

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        • German Genocide in Namibia; Pynchon's *V.* (Paul Levine, Denmark 01/11/14 10:33 AM)
          We did not have to wait until 2010 to discover the massacres in German West Africa. (See José Manuel de Prada, 11 January.)

          Readers of American fiction remember the vivid rendering of those terrible events in Thomas Pynchon's brilliant novel, V., which was published in 1963.

          JE comments: Yes (though I confess I haven't read it). Paul Levine's countryman Holger Terp has documented the German atrocities in Namibia, as part of his tireless bibliographical work with the Danish Peace Academy.  Holger's post is next in the queue.

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          • Thomas Pynchon (Robert McCabe, France 01/12/14 2:14 PM)
            Just a brief note to add to Paul Levine (11 January) that the massacre of the Hereros was part of Thomas Pynchon's stunning novel of World War II (published in the 1970s) called Gravity's Rainbow. I would rate it one of the great books of the 20th century.

            JE comments: I just checked our archives, and Thomas Pynchon has never before come up on WAIS. No Pynchon in 31,349 posts until Paul Levine on January 11th. I suspect that Prof. Hilton wouldn't have had much use for TP's postmodern style, although he is definitely one of the greatest living novelists.  (I just checked, and TP is still going strong at 76.  His latest novel, Bleeding Edge, came out last fall.)

            (I believe this is Robert McCabe's first WAIS post of 2014.  Happy New Year, Bob!)

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        • German Genocide in Namibia (Holger Terp, Denmark 01/11/14 11:00 AM)
          The story of the Germans in Namibia is here:


          Also, the Swedish document Herero-upproret. Kungl. Krigsvetenskaps-Akademiens Tidsskrift, 1905:8 pp. 177-192 might be one of the first accounts of the German genocide. I have the large journal in my files, though it is not scanned yet.

          Regarding the German colonies in Africa, see the story of Hans Paasche:


          and in German:

          Paasche, Hans: Im Morgenlicht: Kriegs-, Jagd- und Reise-erlebnisse in Ostafrika. C.A. Schwetschke und Sohn, 1907.


          JE comments: Best wishes to our dear friend Holger Terp for a healthy and productive 2014. At the first link above, we learn that in the period 1904-'08, the Germans slaughtered 65,000 of the Herero population of 80,000. Certainly a genocide by any definition.

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          • German Genocide in Namibia; US Genocide in Philippines? (Bienvenido Macario, USA 01/15/14 7:19 AM)
            The Herero genocide in Namibia was the first massacre of the 20th century. I'd like to add the one-sided battles in the Philippine War (1899 -1902), where Filipino troops were virtually massacred by US Troops. The intended result of the Kaiser's men was no different from the massacres and genocide of Native American tribes in the 19th century. Anglo-Americans figured if they wipe out the buffaloes, the Native American tribes would follow. And they were right.

            Among the massacres and killings of the 21st century, what stands out was the election-related Maguindanao Massacre in the Philippines in Nov. 2009, where 57 people were killed. See my WAIS post: "Philippines: Suspects Sought in Election Massacre of 57" 11 December 2009:


            It's the worst not because 30 journalists were killed or 21 women were mostly raped, sexually mutilated while they were still alive then killed, but because the UN gave the victims a false sense of security when Philip Alston in a high-profile visit "blasted Pres. Gloria Arroyo for failure to end political killings," five months before the massacre took place. The case is still pending.

            Worse, the World Bank gave a $3.7 billion loan to the Philippines in October 2011 and another $300 million last July 13, 2013. There might be other loans, grants, and aid I am not aware of. I've excluded the $150 million donations from the international community for the typhoon relief efforts.

            The Philippines is a former US territory and this country has a special responsibility to those islands and its people. We should stop funding oppression and the undemocratic oligarchy in the Philippines, withdraw our Ambassador and encourage others to do the same.

            JE comments:  Speck in the eye, log in the eye.  Were the US actions in the Philippines (Moro Rebellion, etc.) any less genocidal than the Germans in Namibia?  Arms historians will point out that the M1911 .45-caliber pistol, the principal side arm of the US armed forces for three generations, was developed to give increased "stopping power" over the .38 cartridge, when fighting against Filipino natives.

            "Stopping power":  a benign way to characterize such a brutal event.

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    • Emigration from Italy (John Heelan, UK 01/05/14 6:24 AM)
      In reflecting on the Italian emigration statistics provided by Eugenio Battaglia on 4 January, one needs also to determine if the emigration was permanent or temporary.

      For example, there was a pattern of seasonal migrant workers from Italy into Argentina (and elsewhere) who returned home afterwards. (A similar pattern happened in the German Gastarbeiter program in the 1960s-'70s that attracted 2.3 million temporary migrants from Turkey and other Mediterranean countries to work in German production plants.)

      JE comments: Temporary status would explain the numbers of Italians in Switzerland, Germany and France, but I know of no large-scale guest worker program for Italians during Argentina's boom years. The cost of transatlantic passage was simply too high.  When the "Gringo" (as Italians were commonly known in Argentina) moved to America, s/he, with few exceptions, was there to stay. For good.

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      • Italian Immigration in Argentina, 19th Century (John Heelan, UK 01/05/14 11:13 AM)
        In response to my post of 5 January, JE wrote: "I know of no large-scale guest worker program for Italians during Argentina's boom years."

        Perhaps you might take a look at the following: "Argentina adopted an open immigration policy and encouraged immigrants to embrace the country as their own. For a short period at the end of the 1880s, the government went so far as to subsidize immigrant boat passages. It is estimated that the country received over seven million immigrants, predominantly from Spain and Italy, between 1870 and 1930... However, about half of these immigrants returned home in the decades that followed. Although return migration existed in all countries, a 50 percent rate of return was notably high."


        JE comments: An important clarification, but returning home--the immigrant with second thoughts--is not exactly the same as a "guest worker" program. A lot of immigrants went back to their home countries because of the gender imbalance in Argentina through 1930. The foreign-born were overwhelmingly male, and some left the country after saving a bit of money, to seek wives in their homelands.

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        • Emigration from Italy (Roy Domenico, USA 01/05/14 3:36 PM)
          Thanks for yet another interesting WAIS thread! I've been in Washington, DC for a few days for the American Historical Association annual meeting, so I'm catching up on the Italian immigration discussion. I just wanted to add a couple of things: another country that many Italian (mainly miners) went to was Belgium. In fact the current Belgian Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo, is the son of Italian parents although I don't think that his dad was a miner. Also, regarding Italians in Argentina, I was walking between hotels this morning with a historian of Argentina and I asked her if, as I've heard, that the majority of Argentines are in some part of Italian origin (like Papa Francesco). She said that was probably true but they say down there that Italian Argentines speak Spanish but think British. This may be a class-based observation as well. So much of the Italian middle class (and many other Europeans) are Anglophiles.

          JE comments: Argentina was a commercial client state of the British Empire for most of the 19th century, and something of that Britishness definitely rubbed off.

          Best of the New Year to Roy Domenico. I hope when the AHA meeting wraps up, Roy will send us a report. To begin with an absurdly general question: what is "in" these days among academic historians?

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          • Italians in Belgium (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/06/14 4:57 AM)
            A small clarification with reference to the 5 January post of Roy Domenico:

            The Italian emigration to Belgium began after WWII, as the Italian situation after the war was desperate, with great unemployment and a lack of coal for energy and the industries. The Italian government therefore decided to "sell" emigrants. For each emigrant that went to work in the Belgian mines, Italy received 200 kg of coal per day. On 8 August 1956, the mine at Marcinelle exploded and 136 Italians died. The youngest was 14 and the oldest was 53 years old.

            JE comments:  It's important to remember these forgotten workplace tragedies.  I never would have believed that in the "modern" post-WII era, Europeans would allow a fourteen year-old to work in the mines.

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  • In Defense of Sarmiento, San Martin (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 01/04/14 5:09 AM)
    John Eipper wrote regarding Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, one of the champions of education on the continent: "he was quite parochial." (?)

    Synonyms of parochial: Narrow-minded, closed-minded, unsophisticated, provincial, insular.

    I believe that this statement deserve an explanation. His beautiful monument in the center of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston is an example his presence in America.

    Not even a word about San Martín, who fought for the independence of Argentina, Chile and Peru without any attempt of annexation.

    JE comments: My apologies to Rodolfo Neirotti; I didn't intend to touch a nerve. By "parochial" I meant focused on local (national) issues. Sarmiento is immediately identified with Argentina, which wouldn't make him the best choice for The Economist's column on Latin America. Admittedly, this definition of "parochial" could equally apply to Washington, Lincoln, or even Churchill.  San Martín's liberation of Chile and Peru, in addition to his native Argentina, would make him a better candidate for The Economist--especially because SM, like Washington before him, refused to set himself up as a dictator.

    Returning to Sarmiento, his bust greeted me every day in the University of Michigan's Modern Languages building.  (Sarmiento received an honorary doctorate from Michigan in 1868.)  I just checked, and the bust was removed after student protests.  I am unsure of when this happened, but sometime after my departure from the University in 1991.  The bust incident reflects how Sarmiento's image hasn't aged well in recent years.  His vision for the "civilizing" (read, "whitening") of Argentina through European immigration and the marginalization of the indigenous population has been labeled racist, even genocidal.

    A number of late entries for The Economist's column-naming contest have come in.  I'll post them next.

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    • Sarmiento in Michigan; from Patrick E. Mears (John Eipper, USA 02/12/14 12:46 PM)
      [JE: I received this e-mail from Patrick E. Mears, JD, Partner and Co-Chair of Barnes & Thornburg LLP of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I received Mr. Mears's permission to post his letter]:

      Dear Professor Eipper: I was fortunate enough to run across your recent comments on the WAIS post of Rodolfo Neirotti [4 January 2014] regarding Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. It was a timely discovery for me--Federal District Judge Avern Cohn (who is copied on this email) and I are writing a paper on Sarmiento and The University of Michigan and his fall from grace there. Recently, Judge Cohn and I were permitted to view the defaced bust of Sarmiento that is presently in storage in Ann Arbor, and also have received quite a bit of background on the "Sarmiento Professorship" established by the Romance Languages Department at the University in the 1940s, which has since been abandoned with the retirement of Professor Cedomil Goic. In late-December/early January, I traveled to Argentina to visit the Sarmiento Museum in Buenos Aires, his grave in the Recoleta Cemetary, and his Casa Natal. I was also able to locate the site of his home in Asunción, where he passed away. This paper has gone through quite a few variations, but now we are on the right track, we believe. We plan to submit the paper to the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters in the near future and perhaps present it to the Academy. This has truly been a labor of love and has been well worth the effort. I am attaching to this email message an email from an Archivist at the Museo Sarmiento in BA with some interesting attached photographs. I also recently received from the University of Michigan's Zoology Department a photograph of the armadillo specimen that Sarmiento presented to the University during his visit to Ann Arbor in 1868 (see the attached receipt for the armadillo and the condor specimens donated to the University).

      In any event, I hope to meet you sometime to share our experiences re: Sarmiento research, etc.

      Thank you. Pat Mears

      JE comments:  My thanks to Pat Mears for contacting WAIS; I do hope our paths cross soon.  Here's the 1869 receipt for Sarmiento's donation of "two very rare curiosities," a condor and a "Clamyphorous" (armadillo; the accepted current spelling is "chlamyphorous"):

      I've always been fascinated by the history of Sarmiento's time in Michigan.  (He received an honorary doctorate from my Alma Mater.)   If Mr. Mears and Judge Cohn are willing, I will share their completed paper with WAISdom.  (Prof. Goic, mentioned above, served on my doctoral committee.  He's now living in Santiago, and is going strong at 85.  An excellent scholar and mentor, as well as a true gentleman. I still have a handwritten note from Prof. Goic on the occasion of my father's death, in 1989.  It was a touching gesture that I'll always cherish.)

      As coincidence would have it, Rodolfo Neirotti has written today, and his post is in the queue.  As a further coincidence, Rodolfo used to live and practice in Grand Rapids, although Pat Mears does not know him.  Rodolfo now lives in Boston.

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  • New Latin America Column in *The Economist*; More WAISers Respond (John Eipper, USA 01/04/14 3:42 PM)
    After I posted yesterday's responses, a number of additional suggestions came in for naming The Economist's new column on Latin American affairs. Although the 3 January deadline has passed, I thought these comments will be of interest. And who knows? Perhaps one of these nominations will be the lucky winner!

    from Salvatore Bizzarro: How about the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, to connect the Latin with the pre-Hispanic? [JE: I affectionately call him "Inca G," and he's one of the greatest writers of the Colonial Period. The son of a Spanish officer and a Peruvian princess, he was the first important mestizo historian of the Americas. His large but austere house in Cuzco is well worth a visit--although he spent the majority of his life in Spain.]

    from Tamara Zúñiga-Brown: Happy New Year to all! I humbly nominate to use the name Tabaré for The Economist's new column. It is a classic Uruguayan Indian legend and tragic love story poem of six cantos, variously classified as epic or verse-novel by Juan Zorilla de San Martín (1855-1931). This work exemplifies the turbulent period of emerging national life in countries transforming from the upheaval of colonialism "in lines which give life to the symbolic idea to a whole continent" (Arturo Torres Rioseco). It is among one of Latin America's foundational texts. [JE: We haven't heard from Tamara Zúñiga-Brown in a few years, and I'm glad she's written in. All the best for the New Year, Tamara! Hope you'll send us a personal update soon. Regarding Latin American foundational texts, we should also include Enriquillo, by the Dominican writer Manuel de Jesús Galván. Enriquillo was a Taíno chief who rebelled against his cruel Spanish overlords. Bartolomé de Las Casas was one of Enriquillo's mentors.]

    from Francisco Ramírez: C'mon guys, it should be cuy:

    [JE:  Pets or food?  I've had both--one cuy feast in Peru was sufficient for a lifetime, especially given my memories of the sadly departed Suzie and Harry, faithful companions during my graduate school days.  How about we end on a happier--and fluffier--note?  This fellow bears a striking resemblance to Suzie.]





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    • Personal Update; Can ESL Classes Win Hearts and Minds? (Tamara Zuniga-Brown, USA 01/16/14 3:31 AM)
      JE asked me off-Forum about Juan Zorrilla de San Martín's epic poem Tabaré. (See my comment of 4 January.) I read the work a million years ago when we lived in Asunción, Paraguay. Apparently it left quite an impression on me, and I feel that anything related to Latin America has to have a passionate/tragic love story attached it to fully understand the soul of the southern continent. My dad is doing well, by the way. He is in the final process with his editor on his fifth book, in a nutshell, a charming and very interesting autobiography about his years as a Marine turned diplomat, turned academic. It's a good read if I may so myself.

      It is good to hear from you. Please know I truly enjoy and follow the WAIS conversations as best I can and have actually composed a few replies; but one thing or another comes up, and they stay in queue waiting for me to get to them. Presently I am trying to catch up with my writing, and believe it or not, just a few days ago I found one response I began to write for WAIS last fall.

      What I was working on is a response to a few of the conversations regarding the public image of Islam/ Muslims and visions of peace in the Middle East. It is something near and dear to my heart, as the vast majority of the students I teach in my ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are on the King Abdullah Scholarship program. I firmly believe a very productive and effective approach to the Middle East peace process and understanding Muslim communities is in our ESL classrooms right now. Albeit, this would require not only a serious paradigmatic shift in our institutional practices and most definitely, a concerted effort in resource allocation. It requires a sincere long-term commitment to developing and building programs that would support cross-cultural communication along with the learning the English language. I can bear witness that constructing understanding and peace is possible in our ESL classrooms. However, because the ESL profession is so highly marginalized, it is not factored into the equation of global peace processes. With more than 70,000 Saudis (and a smattering of Kuwaitis and Emirates) in classrooms, it would seem that right now is an unprecedented strategic opportunity.

      My other student demographic is Chinese. You should hear our upper-level conversations about the economics and geography of oil, increased wealth and education and the power of social networks!

      I am actually sustaining a dialog with the Rafik Hariri Center after I wrote a two-page letter in response to the authors' question regarding what Americans could do more to welcome Saudi scholarship students. It seems we were thinking along the same lines...


      If you are interested, I would be honored to send my writings to the WAIS community. My caveat:  it is very long, but long-overdue, too.

      JE comments: My thanks to Tamara Zúñiga-Brown for this update. Her ESL work is a singular opportunity to win the hearts and minds of students from the Middle East, an opportunity that unfortunately does not receive the official resources it should. WAISers tend to see education as the panacea for most of the world's ills, so I know we are on the same page with Tamara. But I must ask--we often hear narratives of foreign students who become more radicalized when studying in the West.  Know thy enemy and the like.  It's a delicate balance and a huge challenge.  I hope our conversation will continue.

      Tamara's father is WAISer emeritus Tim Brown, whom veteran colleagues remember with fondness.  I miss Tim, and wish him all the best, as well as great success with his new book.

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