Bookbeat

Bookbeat: August 2012

Uncovering the Germanic Past
Merovingian Archaeology in France, 1830-1914

Uncovering the Germanic Past

Bonnie Effros, Professor of History and the Rothman Chair and Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. Available from Oxford University Press.

Uncovering the Germanic Past brings to light an unexpected side-effect of France's nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution. While laying tracks for new rail lines, quarrying for stone, and expanding lands under cultivation, French labourers uncovered bones and artefacts from long-forgotten cemeteries. Although their original owners were unknown, research by a growing number of amateur archaeologists of the bourgeois class determined that these were the graves of Germanic 'warriors', and their work, presented in provincial learned societies across France, documented evidence for significant numbers of Franks, Burgundians, and Visigoths in late Roman Gaul. They thus challenged prevailing views in France of the population's exclusively Gallic ancestry, contradicting the influential writings of Parisian historians like Augustin Thierry and Numa-Denis Fustel de Coulanges. Although some scholars drew on this material evidence to refine their understanding of the early ancestors of the French, most ignored, at their peril, inconvenient finds that challenged the centrality of the ancient Gauls as the forebears of France.

Crossing the boundaries of the fields of medieval archaeology and history, nineteenth-century French history, and the history of science, Effros suggests how the slow progress and professionalization of Merovingian (or early medieval) archaeology, a sub-discipline in the larger field of national archaeology in France, was in part a consequence of the undesirable evidence it brought to light.

Diaspora and Imagined Nationality: USA-Africa Dialogue and Cyberframing Nigerian Nationhood Diaspora and Imagined Nationality

Kole Odutola, PhD, lecturer in the Languages, Literatures, & Cultures Department
Available from Amazon

What is the value of internet chatter? Can you tell where someone comes from by the way they communicate online? Can you even speak about nation building as part of that online dialogue? These are some of the questions which Koleade Odutola tackled in his doctorate which has just been published as a book.

When Africans dialogue with citizens of the United States of America, the continent in its parts through the perspectives of nationals engage each other in conversations. The conversations flow like streams in many directions yielding fruits of different sorts. It is possible for a systematic observer-researcher to fish out important themes and ideas. This book, Diaspora and Imagined Nationality: USA-Africa Dialogue and Cyberframing Nigerian Nationhood, traces the hegemony of Western ideas in postings and conversations online. In the process it frames Nigeria's presence online as a postcolonial nation (or nation space) through various communicative activities of citizens at home and in the diaspora. These communicative activities and political activism have led to a wide range of scholarly interrogations and interventions in media, communication, and migration studies against the backdrop of globalization, democratization, and modernization theories. It has been amply documented that communication and social interaction produce ideas that can be evaluated along the lines of deliberative democracy. These approaches have produced outcomes without the benefit of the complex debates, dialogues, and disagreements that come with popular participation and creation of variegated knowledge by a collective. As part of the conclusion, the study posits that the concept of nationhood is not fixed but is a symbolic construct that evolves through unstructured conversations, sharing, and intense debates.

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