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Showing posts from May, 2010

Review - The Persians - A History - Homa Katouzian

Review of The Persians – Ancient, Medieval and Modern Iran, by Homa Katouzian Yale University Press

Reviewed for Tribune Magazine

Think Iran currently and there come the inevitable images and thoughts: Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, the nuclear threat, scenes of protests from last year’s election which saw Ahemdinijad re-elected by a questionable 10 million votes against Mir-Hossein Mousavi, whose campaign colour of green, is still worn as a symbol of protest against the current government. Yet all of this, whilst important in our age, clouds the reality of Iran as a country with millennias old rich and glorious history. In fact, if this book were titled The Iranians, one would wonder how limited its market may have been in the West, compared to culturally and historically rich connotations of The Persians, which Katouzian concedes.

As a self-confessed novice, albeit one for whom Iran has long piqued her interest, I was hoping for a book that would give me an in-depth overview. But, wit…

The cull has begun ...

This week's TLS has a very interesting piece by Martha C. Nussbaum on why cuts in humanities teaching poses a threat to democracy itself. There'll be lots more of these pieces making what will no doubt be largely unheard pleas to the powers that be to recognise the importance of healthy, thriving arts and humanities courses.

But the cull has already begun.

This week Middlesex University, one of the post-92 universities, has decided to close its philosophy department. Yet its philosophy department is that university's highest ranking in terms of research. In fact, The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex is widely and internationally recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy. Incredible? A short-term outlook prevails where reputation and the long-term means diddly squat compared to the vocational subjects which will attract more government money. In a blog for the London Review of Books Paul Myersco…

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…