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Tutor profile: Elan B.

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Elan B.
Reference Librarian/Historian
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Questions

Subject: Library and Information Science

TutorMe
Question:

What are your personal librarianship motivations and goals?

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Elan B.
Answer:

Because of my penchant for continuing education, I decided to focus my concentration on the Academic Libraries tract. Coupled with my existing Master’s in Public History with an International and Military focus, I tailored many of my course projects to focus on academic libraries and historical issues. A majority of my prior research had been completed at academic libraries of various kinds, including the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA. This work in military based educational libraries and their attached special collections led me to also take MSLS courses in Government Documents (Summer 2018) and Archives (Fall 2018). Ideally, I would like to work in an institution such as this or a museum sponsored by one of these institutions. My volunteer work as a social media content creator for Puppy Rescue Mission also led me to take the LIS 690: Social Media course (Fall 2018) and learn more about how my personal interests can intersect with my professional ones. My goal is to continue expanding my skills to make myself as marketable as possible after I leave the MSLS program; which has given me a fantastic grounding in the literature and expertise I will need to continue working in academic libraries. I am also currently finishing up coursework through the University of Kentucky’s “New Maps +” graduate certificate program which will give me foundation in GIS programming and mapping; an up and coming subfield in academic libraries, especially those with digital and tech labs. Additionally, as part of the Student-to-Staff program I will be attending the ALA’s 2019 Annual Conference this June and working for the International Relations Office, an excellent space to learn more about international library experiences and potential for me to continue working and stay relevant in the field when our family moves to Okinawa with the Marine Corps. Finally, I hope to stay well read in the literature pertaining to library scholarship through reading the journals that the current library I work in subscribes to and being active in ALA threads and roundtables, as well as keep abreast of trending book themes and carry on writing reviews for Library Journal while continuing in my position as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.

Subject: US History

TutorMe
Question:

How would you define the concept of “public trust”? How do you think the practices of public history are informed by this concept?

Inactive
Elan B.
Answer:

The concept of “public trust” is ingrained in the practices of public historians and continues to change the way they work. The idea of how the public trust benefits the people has evolved over the years and legislation has been enacted to refine and enhance how public historians both preserve history and engage with community partners. While the public trust, which for public historians can be defined as “an agreement between the people and historical institutions (including but not limited museums) to preserve valuable artifacts and even spaces for future generations”, has changed remarkably over history, the ideals of preserving treasures so all people can learn and enjoy them has remained. The public trust, originally, can be seen as the purview of the “white man” to preserve history for those who are not capable of doing so and is a constant topic of discussion in the museum world and even the news when it comes to the current trend of repatriating historical objects. This can be seen in the historical looting of ancient lands during colonial conquest, such as Napoleonic forces bringing home treasures from Egypt, and later, western archeologists bringing artifacts from digs back with them instead of preserving them in situ. The subsequent struggles that ensued from western empires taking things for their own “public trust” and using their ability to preserve and therefore “save” these priceless artifacts while ensuring the home countries that they cannot is evidenced in Sharon Waxman’s Loot. While this shows the historical argument for public trust that is today being disputed and renounced around the world, her evidence has modern repercussions that constantly effect public historians today. In the United States especially the concept of public trust has very recently inspired battles over who has the best ability to care for the nation’s treasures. The Native American Graves and Property Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) brought a bitter argument to head about who should hold the treasures of the American Indian tribes. Until that point, countless artifacts and human remains laid in storage in the great institutions of the United States, who, while not actively going out and collecting from historical native sites in the 1990s, were still caring for the objects and displaying them with interpretation under their conceptions of the public trust. While the push by tribes to regain their objects could have brought increased tension between tribes and public historians, Karen Cooper shows in Spirited Encounters that the two came together in cooperation to make the public trust better. With this cooperation came the establishment of native care, whereby tribes are retaining their objects while still keeping them in the public trust. In this case, the public trust is imbued with even more meaning for future generations because the historical context is being retained with the items through their continued use in tribal ceremonies while still being carefully preserved when not in use. NAGPRA however is not a precedent for keeping artifacts in their native environments. There is a long-standing tradition of acts and laws dating back to 1909 to protect antiquities from being taken without proper paperwork. This, which parallels with NAGPRA and advocates for native care, provides context to the artifacts and therefore enhances their worth. This context has been evidenced to enhance people’s appreciation for history. Studies such as that of Rosenzweig and Thelen’s Presence of the Past show that people are more interested in the stories that history has to offer and prefer when history is given on a personal level. Objects with a verified story and historical context therefore hold more weight in the public trust. This protection of antiquities also comes back full circle to Waxman’s argument in Loot. If antiquities are removed from their original location and placed in the public trust for care by western powers, then the public trust, which has its roots in democracy, loses legitimacy because it is only available to those people who have the ability to get to the West and view them. When antiquities are removed from underdeveloped or developing parts of the world, their populations, who are included in the universal public trust, are deprived the right of being beneficiaries of that public trust. The development of UNESCO and the creation of World Heritage sites in the 1970s provides public historians with the foundation that there is a universal public trust to contend with. Oversight of this universal public trust generally relies on the willingness of countries to submit to it, and while there is occasionally some public outcry that gets national attention, such as Italian art showing up in American museums, for the most part, western powers still have the leverage they need to continue arguing that treasures in the public trust need to be “protected” from this very same public. The looting of the Iraqi museum following the 2001 invasion is a prime example of protecting national history from its own citizens that can be held up in the face of returning artifacts and antiquities that are already out of the country. This is an ongoing issue and still a hot topic among public historians and archivists, countries of origin, and the public. When something is put into the public trust, public historians then have an ethical duty to preserve that object for future generations. This ethical duty informs conservation and preservation efforts and guides everything from how exhibits are created to National Park Service programming and accessibility to the creation of historic districts in towns and cities. Even public history manuals such as Genoway’s Administration for Small Museums, which mainly deals with the “political” formation of museums and how to function within a board, discusses things such as loans, which are temporarily held in the public trust. Still other manuals are wholly devoted to discussing the Antiquities Act of 1909 and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Preservation Acts and how these apply to objects that a public historian might encounter in their institution. It is safe to say that although the “public trust” is not always thoroughly defined in an easily accessible manner, it is a guiding force in the practices of public history.

Subject: European History

TutorMe
Question:

Did fascism (Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, etc.) represent continuity or rupture with European traditions of nationalism?

Inactive
Elan B.
Answer:

The historical tradition of nationalism in Europe prior to World War I, and again between the wars was very strong. In this tradition, ethno-nationalistic feelings both heightened tensions within empires and sparked revolutions that created new ones. It is in this tradition that European “fascism” was born. Political parties with fascist overtones like those of Benito Mussolini in Italy, Franco’s National-Syndicalist party in Spain, and the German National Socialist Party under Hitler in Germany used traditional ethno-national language, combined with existing grievances about current political borders, to enhance their political platforms and gain internal popularity; this in turn granted them power on the world stage. The rise of fascism, though not inevitable, was a continuation of the European tradition of nationalism; and while fascism did not last in Europe, the tradition of ethnic-based nationalism did, carrying through to short-lived revolts, full blown revolutions, and bloody wars that continue to influence politics today. Nationalism took on ethnic-overtones prior to World War I, and exploded in the last half of the 19th century. This is an application of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities principle: people tend to group around others who share a common language and culture, developing strong emotional connections with others like them even if they have never met, and may never meet. A prime example of this ethnic bonding can be seen in 1848. Often regarded as the “Year of Revolutions”, Europe in 1848 saw major uprisings, including a push for Italian unification, and ethno-conflict between the Magyars of the Hungarian region and the Hapsburg Empire. This conflict in the Hapsburg Empire between ethnic groups is strong evidence of the ethnic nationalism tradition that was spreading throughout Europe, and a spark of what was to come. While the Magyars identified themselves as an ethnic “people” and sued the Hapsburg Empire for legal recognition of their territory and later independence, other ethnic groups within Magyar territory also started to band together in the search for an independent ethnic nation-state. The Pan-Slavic Conference of 1848 extended this nationalism to the far eastern reaches of Europe and vied for an independent “Slavic” state separate from the Hapsburg Empire; this was compounded by the fact that the conference was cut short by the Austrian military firing on what was discussed as being a peaceful demonstration in Prague. With Russia as a key ally, the Slavic ethnic group slowly chipped away and carved out its own nation-state of the “Kingdom of Slavs, Slovenes, and Croats”, or Yugoslavia, and continued throughout European history to pick up territory that was ethnically “Slavic.” Other small ethnic groups in the Magyar populated region of the Hapsburg Empire also voiced their feelings of ethno-consciousness in terms of nationalism, arguing that if the Magyar ethnic group was granted control of what became Hungary, it would not be completely Magyar in ethnicity; if Magyars were granted recognition and autonomy within the Empire, it should set a precedent that ethnic groups can also govern themselves sovereignly. This was not popular with the 19th century rulers of Europe, who although becoming more liberal in their governments, were also concerned with creating strong empires. Allowing ethnic groups to govern themselves flew in the face of rising popularity for scientific racism and continued competition for the colonization of other continents on the world stage. Regardless, nationalism on an ethnic basis continued to gain ground in Europe among the varying ethnic groups; it would soon start to reshape the political boundaries of Europe. In 1867 the Hapsburg Empire fell to pieces. The Ausgleich Compromise of 1867 finally acquiesced to the continued barrage from the Magyars and set up the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hungary could govern itself with only minor oversight from the established dual-monarchy government. While there was still a higher government and military, the two regions were given their own parliaments and political ministers. Although Istávan Déak argues that the Empire lasted because of the loss of ethnic ties in the officer corps of the Army, who served as Austro-Hungarians for the greater good of their empire rather than as soldiers of their individual ethnic identities, his arguments still lends to the existence of ethno-nationalism among a majority of other institutions where members were not deprived of their ethnic connections for 20 years or more. Here the Compromise actually created a major win for ethno-nationalism over other paths of social revolution. Leaders of political parties began to see that nationalism was a stronger social catalyst for revolution than movements such as socialism. The creation of pre-fascist institutions like national socialist parties, or the rejection of socialism in favor of romanticism based ethno-nationalism, which played into people’s emotions, was a natural progression of the European nationalism tradition. The political boundaries were further refined in 1871 when German unity was finalized. With the decision of Otto von Bismarck to take the kleindeutsch route instead of the grossdeutsch and exclude Austria from the final “German Empire” of Germany and Prussia, Europe was no longer a land of vast monarchical empires focused on land expansion; it was a contemporary society of nation-states. Bismarck in particular focused on building the German nation and consistently worked to dispel the idea that the new German Empire wanted to expand. Although there were ethnic Germans still in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time of this split, the easy and immediate alliance between Austria and Germany quieted severe opposition from those who lived outside the politically drawn region. Other ethnicities however continued to voice their negative opinions. Ethno-nationalist tensions between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Serbian and Slavic countries to the East propelled Europe into World War I, and again, ethno-nationalism came out on top. Serbian officials, who decried the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina following the Crimean War, definitely had a hand (a black one to be exact) in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, yet were not portrayed as the aggressors in World War I, because they submitted to a majority of the Austrian demands following the assassination. On the contrary, the majority of Europe saw Serbia as submissive to the demands and Austria was portrayed as a blustering windbag who was out for vengeance come hell or high water. The German alliance with Austria and the fact that the new German country was still jockeying for power on the world stage brought Germany and Austria to blows the Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia (who were still the Serbs greatest ally). Thus the Great War expanded into the greatest tragedy and most ruthless war in history seen up until that point. By 1919 the European countries were exhausted both economically, and militarily. Out of World War I came a great depression, much bitterness, and a renewed mentality towards preserving peace that had not been seen since European powers had tried to control post-Napoleonic expansion with the Vienna Conference of 1815. With it however, also came Wilson’s 14 Points, and an inclusion for nationality self-determination, which although unrealized through the peace treaty because of the conference’s exclusion of countries other than the victors, brought legitimization to ethno-national movements. Great discontent over decisions on how to divide Europe after World War I also lent to increased nationalism. Smaller countries in Eastern Europe were divided up from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and created with no regard for the ethnic nationalist self-determination espoused in Wilson’s 14 Points. Tensions immediately began to reassert themselves. Germany banded closer together in their misery of having to accept full responsibility for the war and the deep depression brought on by trying to both move through economic and food depressions while simultaneously paying war reparations. Italy banded together with its disappointment in being slighted by the Treaty of Versailles and not gaining anything after World War I. New political parties popped up throughout Europe that combined aspects of socialism and working for a better life with emotional nationalism that already had ethnic overtones. The Civil War in Spain provided a testing ground for the strength of these parties, and the fascist National-Syndicalism of the Franco dictatorship in Spain was the first large scale success of socialism (through union-strike based syndicalism) and nationalism that paved the way for Italy and Germany’s fascist regimes. Although Mussolini rejected the socialism aspect, his regime mirrors Spain and later Germany’s fascist underpinnings in their creation of ultranationalist, xenophobic racist, one-party states that came to be termed fascist. As Kevin Passmore states in Fascism: A Very Short Introduction, fascism was dynamic in its political ideologies, but not in its methods. While fascism could be “A and not A” the characteristics that supported it were similar. These characteristics supported promoting the state as a strong power and promoting nationalism to the furthest extent possible. While there are those like Gellner, who in Nations and Nationalism, counters the idea of ethno-nationalism in favor of industrialism-based nationalism, there is strong evidence in favor of ethno-nationalism as a driving force in creating revolution. By all means, there are instances of extreme nationalism that are happening in countries that do not start out with a plan to develop industrially. The circuitous path of nationalism constantly brings new ethnic groups to the forefront, and this is both evidence of and part of the continuing tradition that brought popularity for fascist regimes following World War I. The redrawn political lines that came from the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 alienated groups of people from their ethnic homelands. Germans in particular were separated because there was to be no real interaction between Germany and Austria. Czechs who had long been ethno-nationalists in conjunction with Ruthenians received their own nation-state but also inherited a mass of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland. Poland was given its nation-state back after a century yet also inherited ethnic Germans, Russians, and Ukrainians. All of these factors led to a rising tide of ethno-nationalism that was embraced throughout Europe and is still influencing the world today.

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