When in France, Greet with a Kiss — The North Star Reports – by Rachel Rees. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

When in France, Greet with a Kiss — The North Star Reports – by Rachel Rees. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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In the United States, a common greeting typically consists of a “hello” and a wave. Although many Americans believe this is the only way to greet a person, not all countries have this custom. In France, a common greeting with a person you know consists of les bisous, kisses, on one’s cheek. Many Americans view this as a violation of personal space and an odd greeting, but to the French it is just as common as a wave.
When I visited France, I traveled around to different cities for one week and was assigned a host family for another week. Quite frankly, one of the things I was most nervous about was the bisous. We had learned about how to greet people…

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Review of Writing Women in Central America: Gender and the Fictionalization of History by Laura Barbas-Rhoden

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Writing Women in Central America: Gender and the Fictionalization of History. Laura Barbas-Rhoden. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780896802339

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Edited by Karen Rosenflanz

(c) 2015 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 10, Spring, 2015. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Review of Mexico in World History by William H. Beezley

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Mexico in World History. William H. Beezley. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN:  9780195337907

As part of the New Oxford World History series from Oxford University Press, William Beezley’s Mexico in World History contributes to our understanding of Mexico’s past and present by examining how internal and external factors affected Mexico’s social, political, and economic development from the pre-Columbian era through 2010. Rather than viewing Mexico in isolation from international influences, as is often the case with country studies, Beezley’s work explores Mexican society in the context of its interactions with the global community. Beezley successfully introduces students to the diversity of Mexico’s historical development in an easy-to-follow narrative especially suited to students new to Mexican history, culture and archaeology.

Beginning with modern Mexico, Beezley’s preface suggests that the country has been constructed in the modern mind as a place of tacos, tequila and telenovelas. With exposure primarily to popular and fashionable enclaves for tourists, few visitors know or understand the true history and culture of the country, preferring to limit their time and attentions to beach resorts, mariachi music, and superficial viewings of archaeological ruins. Therefore, Beezley’s purpose is to illuminate the historic antecedents behind current pressing concerns such as immigration, the devaluation of the peso, rising crime rates, and the cartels.

Proceeding chronologically, Beezley’s chapters initially explore the indigenous empires at the heart of Mexico, touching on the traverse of nomadic peoples from Asia to the Americas and the peoples of the Classic and Post Classic Eras including the Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Aztecs. His next chapter discusses Spanish conquest and the formation of colonial Mexico, the response to the Treaty of Tordesillas in Europe, importation of Catholicism to the colony and the rise of the Bourbons in the wake of the War of Spanish Succession. The third chapter delineates the major players in the fight for independence (Hidalgo, Aldama, and Allende) and French threats to Mexico in the aftermath of Texan independence. Subsequently, Beezley discusses Mexico’s embattlement in the Mexican American War, Santa Anna, the secularization brought about by the Constitution of 1857, and the stewardship of Mexico by Maximilian and Charlotte. The fifth chapter explores the rise of technocrats who focused on “uplifting” the lower strata of society and the predominance of Porfirio Diaz’s policies for progress.
Moving forward in time, Beezley discusses the revolution, the idealization of the mestizo as a symbol of Mexico, land reforms, the limits imposed on the Roman Catholic Church, and urbanization. The penultimate chapter traces the revolution’s impact on the middle sector of society, the rise in educated, urban-born civilian leaders, women’s increased participation in the political arena, and the role of Mexico in World War II. He examines invited immigration to the United States under the bracero program and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, which led to the student movements of the 1960s. His final segment discusses the successes and setbacks of contemporary Mexico, including the defeat of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) in 2000 for the first time since 1929.

Drawing on archaeology, art, popular culture including film and song, and, of course, history, Beezley deftly explores how upper and lower strata of society, diverse ethnic groups, and both genders interacted and responded to political, social and economic changes in order to contour Mexican society into its contemporary shape. Beezley’s well-written prose and easy-to-follow narrative allows students—especially undergraduates—the opportunity to explore a wide range of topics that have affected the country from the ancient to modern periods. Furthermore, he exposes students new to Mexican history and culture to important academic methods: he suggests areas available for additional research (such as the mysterious abandonment of classic Maya cities), addresses gaps in sources and evidence (as, for instance, the installation of army commander Iturbide as emperor), and posits a broad spectrum of reasons for effects, where one answer is insufficient (such as instability and foreign intervention during the 1830s and 1840s). Simultaneously, he addresses the impact of external factors on internal programs (e.g. World War II’s influence on President Avila Camacho’s social programs) and highlights how decisions from the past (the creation of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario and PEMEX oil) fostered circumstances still relevant today. As an added benefit to students, Beezley provides a brief chronology of Mexican history, suggestions for additional reading materials, and a list of useful websites for further study.

However, as with any succinct historical overview, certain issues cannot be explored in depth. This is not a work with bold new arguments for Latin American scholars, but rather a brief, comprehensive introduction to the major themes prevalent in Mexican history. As such, the inclusion of more dates within the body of the text would allow the reader to pinpoint historical changes without flipping back and forth to the chronology. These minor critiques notwithstanding, is the text serves as an important and useful introductory tool for those interested in the development of modern Mexico.

More than tacos, tequila, and telenovelas, Mexico is a diverse country with a colorful history plagued by foreign intervention, as highlighted in this valuable work. Despite Mexico’s current challenges and the negative press it has recently received, Beezley is surprisingly optimistic about Mexico’s future. In his conclusion, he asserts that Mexico’s citizens should take pride in the accomplishments of their country as evidenced by two centuries of independence and one of revolutionary social change. The current society and government are more devoted to equality, opportunity, and diversity than at any time in the past. Overcoming apparently insurmountable obstacles has been a hallmark of Mexican society, and as a result, Mexico’s future is bright, and hope warranted. Beezley’s concise and comprehensive book provides students the opportunity to understand more thoroughly the environmental forces that coalesced to create modern Mexico while emphasizing its historical connections with the rest of the world.

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Edited by Karen Rosenflanz

(c) 2015 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 10, Spring, 2015. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

Norway – Family Connections — The North Star Reports – by Amy North. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[By Hayden120 and NuclearVacuum [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Almost 200,000 immigrants came to the United States from Norway between 1900 and 1910. One of these 200,000 was my great-grandfather, Ole Dahl. He grew up and worked on a farm in Bodø, Norway, before coming to the United States in 1907 at the age of twenty-two. His plan was to get a job where he could make enough money to buy a boat and return to Norway as a fisherman. Little did he know, he would end up staying in Minnesota the rest of his life.

His journey started by traveling to Liverpool, United Kingdom, to get on the steamboat Cedric, which was headed to Ellis Island. At the time…

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EXTENDED DEADLINE The Sixth Annual Conference of the Midwest World History Association May 15, 2015

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The Sixth Annual Conference of the Midwest World History Association
25-26th September 2015, Wabash College (Crawfordsville, Indiana)
EXTENDED DEADLINE May 15, 2015

The Midwest World History Association has extended the deadline for paper, poster, panel, roundtable, and workshop proposals for its annual conference, to be held at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, on September 25th and 26th, 2015. The conference theme of “Feast and Famine in World History” is intended to encompass all topics of relevance to the production, consumption, exchange, and culture of food throughout history. Papers and panels on any theme in world history are also encouraged. The organizers encourage proposals from K-12 teachers, college faculty, students, and public historians, as well as scholars working in allied fields such as Anthropology or Sociology.

As an additional theme, the Conference Committee especially encourages and solicits contributions on topics related to the LGBTQ experience in Indiana and the world.

In light of the recent passage of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in the Indiana Legislature, the MWWHA Executive Board affirms its opposition to discrimination and its support of equality and diversity in all forms, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The Conference Committee will take every possible measure to ensure that all attendees will be able to enjoy a conference without fear of discrimination, and to encourage the many people and organizations who are working towards greater equality for all Hoosiers. In particular, we support the efforts of Crawfordsville mayor Todd Barton to pass a municipal anti-discrimination ordinance. Further measures to ensure a welcoming environment and to support the cause of equality will be announced later on the conference website.

The conference will feature both a keynote presentation and a teaching workshop by Professor Jonathan Reynolds, Northern Kentucky University. Dr. Reynolds’ keynote, “On the Cutting Edge of World History: Rethinking Food in World History, and Rethinking World History With Food” will examine the changing relationship between food and world history over the past century. His workshop, called “Changing Your World History Recipe: Using Food to Enrich the World History Classroom,” will address how food is often misused in world history classrooms, and provide a number of simple, constructive, and enlightening techniques to add a dash of food history to spice up and enrich the teaching of world history.

Please submit a 250-word abstract and a short curriculum vitae to the website http://my.mwwha.org no later than May 15, 2015. Where a complete panel is proposed, the convener should also include a 250-word abstract of the panel theme. Each panelist should plan to spend no more than 20 minutes presenting her or his paper.

Presenters must register for the conference by September 1, 2015, to be included in the program. Please, direct any questions to the Program Committee Chair, Dr. Nat Godley, at chairconferencecommittee@mwwha.org.

The MWWHA offers competitive Graduate Student Awards to offset part of the conference costs. Graduate students interested in applying should include a letter with their conference proposal explaining how the conference helps them with their studies, teaching, and/or future career plans.
We also invite accepted papers to be submitted to our journal, The Middle Ground, for potential publication: http://themiddlegroundjournal.org/.

Further information about the MWWHA, including membership and conference registration, can be found on our website: http://mwwha.org/.

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Narvik, Norway – Immeasurable Hospitality — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

A special series. Narvik, Norway – Immeasurable Hospitality — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[A shot of the view from Marit’s family cabin, the scenery here was almost surreal it was so beautiful. Pictured is her family’s bunkhouse.]

In 2008 I gained the older sister I lacked biologically by way of my family’s participation in a foreign exchange program. She came to us from a town in the North of Norway, and since leaving she has returned a handful of times to the U.S. to visit. I was able to make the jaunt to New York City to meet up with Marit, my Norwegian sister, and João, another beloved foreign exchange student from the past, for last Thanksgiving break, spending an amazing week catching up and enjoying the city and each other’s company. After 7…

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Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar— The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar. 2013. By Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, and Ryan Christofferson.

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[Film poster from: http://uocal.uottawa.ca/en/node/11166 ]

Poverty. One dollar a day. Microfinance. Malnutrition. These words are used frequently during conversations about global poverty and international development. But what do these words really mean? What do they look like in real life? College students Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple set out on a mission to find out for themselves. In their documentary Living on One Dollar, Ingrasci and Temple, along with two film students, agree to live on one dollar a day—internationally accepted as the extreme poverty line—in Pena Blañca, Guatemala, a small village where many people work as farm laborers for about a dollar a day. The team documents their attempt to live as authentically as possible on their meager income for 52 days, while also researching how their neighbors survive and…

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Ongoing Forum: Book Reviews and the Teaching of World History

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The Middle Ground Journal Ongoing Forum: Book Reviews and the Teaching of World History
Editors: Dr. Birgit Schneider and Dr. Hong-Ming Liang

This forum has two goals. It seeks, in general, to establish a platform for discussing different approaches to teaching world history, including different class formats, different course structures and content, etc. In addition, it strives to evaluate the use of book reviews as a tool for teaching and assessment. The forum is based on my teaching of HIST3029, “Transnational History: A New Approach to the Past” at the University of Hong Kong in the spring semester of 2014. My own class shall merely serve as a starting point; I would like to encourage contributors to share their experiences or ideas about these two (and other related) aspects of teaching. This can include (and is not limited to) different contents, methodologies, and formats of teaching in the broad context of world history. The forum is intended as a space in which the gap between teaching and research is bridged through reflection on teaching per se, and especially teaching as it relates to research and the academic discipline.

Submissions to the forum should be in one of the following formats:
– Case studies outlining specific courses and their approach to relevant topics of this forum (3000-4000 words)
– Discussions of methodology, assignments, or other teaching or assessment tools (500-1000 words)
– Comments discussing existing case studies (up to 500 words)

Case studies and longer discussions will be peer reviewed, while comments will only undergo review by the editor and be posted as is (unless irrelevant or inappropriate).
The Middle Ground Journal is an open-access, refereed journal of world history and global studies housed at The College of St. Scholastica and published by the Midwest World History Association (MWWHA). We do not charge fees any type to our authors, readers and reviewers. Additional information on the journal is available at: https://www.facebook.com/middlegroundjournal  and at: http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm

General inquiries on the journal should be sent to Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, HLIANG@CSS.EDU

Forum Introduction – Professor Birgit Schneider, Ph.D. Schneider IntroForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
Book Review: Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population – Matthew Connelly SchneiderConnellyForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
Book Review: Melancholy Order – Joo Hun Han SchneiderHanForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
Book Review: Salt: a world history – Hu Ke SchneiderHuForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
Book Review: The Europeanization of the World – William Edward Wilson SchneiderWilsonForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
First Reflective Essay – Class Schneider First ReflectionForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org
Second Reflective Essay – Class SchneiderSecondReflectionForumSpring2015themiddlegroundjournal.org

(c) 2015 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 10, Spring, 2015. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Food, Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

Food, Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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When I was first seeking a theme for my family project, I struggled. It was not until about half way through the project that I realized how prominent cooking was in my family. Making homemade food has always been important to us. Even today, we make many homemade foods such as noodles, jams, salsas, fritters and breads. The more research I did into family traditions, the more often food came up.

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One of my favorite things to do with my family is bake homemade bread. Because we have to wait for the bread to rise, it has always been an all-day event. We make as many loaves of bread as we have pans, including some cinnamon bread. The youngest children are taught to make…

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Kultura con ‘k': Discovering a City’s Soul — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Originally posted on The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy:

A special series.Kultura con ‘k': Discovering a City’s Soul — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[This news stand is an example I pass nearly every day, it’s not unique in the sense that it has been tagged but it caught my eye.]

You can buy the book or take the tour: viewing all of the landmarks everyone wants to visit and taking every photo to capture it for yourself, but when it comes right down to it if you want to get to know a city and its people you’re going to have to leave the beaten path. My dad always taught me to break from the crowd (of tourists) when traveling and follow the music: find the people and be polite, ask them about themselves and actually learn something worth taking home with…

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