Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Historical notes from all over

* I'm still thinking about Dutil and Mackenzie's Embattled Nation, which powerfully evokes what a godawful horror the First World War made of Canadian politics, which by late 1917 were driven mostly by hysteria, vote-rigging, and bigotry. Odd to read, then, of how in November 1917 the Marquis of Lansdowne, a former governor general of Canada (mostly remembered here for schools, streets, and neighbourhoods bearing his name), but mostly a grandee of British politics who sat in the British war cabinet for much of the First World War, could publish a coolly reasoned argument for why Britain should seek a negotiated peace with Germany forthwith.

Well, it didn't, and Lansdowne became a bit of a pariah for the remaining decade of his life. So perhaps Britain was not so much different from Canada.  But it's hard to find anyone in Canadian government circles in 1917 who would have been able to muster such dispassion about the war and what to do about it.

* The struggle to repatriate indigenous remains from the basements of museums and laboratories is an ongoing story in Canada.  But Australia had a remarkable version of that last weekend, it seems.  "Mungo Man," a largely intact skeleton collected in the 1970s from a desert region of western New South Wales, was returned to its original surroundings.  Mungo Man was tall, slim, fiftyish, and at hi death had been buried with elaborate ceremony. And it all happened 40,000 years ago.

Australian history... is old.
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