Document analysis: Extract from Bernt Engelmann’s autobiographical memoir, In Hitler’s Germany, (1986), pp.1-4
While political violence during the reign of the Third Reich is copiously documented, the intimidation and oppression in the lead up to Nazi capture of power is less well known. Bernt Engelmann’s autobiographical memoir In Hitler’s Germany, written half a century after the event in 1986, serves to fill this lacuna. In the extract in question Engelmann recounts a dramatic event he experienced when he was a school kid growing up in late Weimar Germany. Even eight months before Germany came under the grip of the Third Reich there were troubling early signs of what is in store. Engelmann’s Jewish French teacher (Dr.Levy) was vilified and victimized right before his eyes and for not fault of his. Merely by the fact of his religious faith and by his legitimate act of removing a Swastika flag from the school mast, Dr. . . . Read More
The Journey of Man, presented by Dr. Spencer Wells, is a very important documentary film that sends out a message of human solidarity. As Dr. Wells says in the introduction, it is the retracing of the all routes of human migration out of Africa in the last 50,000 years. It is a fascinating story constructed on a grand timescale. The drama and significance of this story lies in the high stakes involved for those early humans who ventured into alien territories. There are several facets and themes to the documentary film. But the most striking and profound is that of human solidarity amidst diversity. This essay will expound on this thesis.
In this most compelling story of natural history, the pivotal moment was the great Ice Age that set in 50 thousand years ago. Up until this point, the entire human population (technically of the species Homo sapiens) were confined to just the African continent. This is understandable, for . . . Read More
It is fair to state that the status of Asian American women before 1950s was not any better than that suffered by minorities from any racial-ethnic group during this period. This is amply attested by first-hand accounts of discrimination and maltreatment by early immigrants. We also have copious legal indictments handing penalties, jail sentences and deportations to early wave of Asian immigrants to the ‘land of the free’. Considering that it was beginning from the second half of the 19th century that steady streams of Asian immigration poured into America, it is apt to claim that their struggle spanned a century, ending with the Civil Rights movement of 1960s. Prior to this the community endured a century of hardships that mitigated their integration into mainstream American socio-culture. If racial prejudice was a sizeable challenge on its own, the issues were compounded for womenfolk. The rest of this essay is an overview of the Asian American experience . . . Read More
1. In sum, what is the Williams thesis? What is his main point and central argument?
Eric Williams is an important black intellectual who witnessed, documented and analyzed African slavery in America firsthand. His main argument is that multiple factors were behind the origins of Negro slavery. The powerful papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, in collusion with powerful European Kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, and later Britain and France, permitted the practice of slavery. Since African Negroes were not of Christian faith, they were deemed infidels by the Catholic Church along with Muslims, Pagans and the rest. Williams contends that economic exploitation went hand in hand with religious dogma in perpetrating slavery. Theories of white racial supremacy were another source of this hideous institution.
2. The Williams thesis critiques which interpretations of the origins of plantation slavery? In other words, which other explanations of the origins . . . Read More
It is fair to claim that the first half of the twentieth century was the most turbulent in modern Chinese history. The revolutionary fervor, mixed with the wave of Western cultural influences, created a national identity crisis in these decades. The two characters in question transcend their fiction and represent the society at large during this period. They stand for two contrasted Chinese identities that speak of the good and evil in the Chinese character. This essay will elaborate on how Ah Q and Hsiang Tzu symbolically represent a nation, culture and society that was in transition.
Ah Q is a powerful yet critical portrayal of young Chinese men at the turn of the twentieth century. As the novelist Lu Xun introduces him, he is full of folly and vainglory. He is also shown to possess the vice of sloth and lack meaningful goals in life. Lu Xun’s main concern with the novella is not the moral dimension but the social and political ones. In this view, Ah Q is the . . . Read More
Although Augustine of Hippo’s early life was disordered and undisciplined, his adult life is marked by maturity and spiritual searching. His steadfast spiritual journey – one identified with penance and dedication – will lead him to a profound understanding of the message of Christ. He attains a refined reverence for the omnipotent will of God. Although St. Augustine lived at an age that was far removed from St. Francis Assisi’s, some of the values cherished and preached by the latter is easily applicable to the former’s life. Reverence is one such Franciscan value that is represented by Augustine’s lifelong spiritual journey. The rest of this essay will highlight this connection by citing relevant passages from the Confessions as well as scholarly commentary given upon it.
One of the early influences on St. Augustine was the Greek theologian Plotinus, whose famous words ‘alone with the Alone’ made an impact on the young aspirant. This peculiar theory . . . Read More
Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination. The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology. Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past. In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity. There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998) This essay will elaborate how theological . . . Read More
Barack Obama has a reputation as a skilful and fluent public speaker. His address to the nation on the occasion of the inauguration of his second term in Presidency underscores this reputation. But style is one thing and substance is another. The crux of his message was for American people to expect no radical changes to the general direction of policies. Although delivered in all eloquence and with a sense of importance, a careful scrutiny of its content would reveal its vapidity.
But looking at the speech as an artefact of creative writing, there is some skill in the writing and delivery. For example the organization, punctuation and rhythm of the speech, there is merit to be found. The phrasing, pauses and iterations were so conceived as fitting to an oral presentation. In this regard the speech worked well with the large audience at the Capitol Hill. One can witness members of the audience hooting, nodding or clapping in approval during pauses in the speech. The . . . Read More
Episode 1: Different But Equal
n the first episode of the documentary series titled ‘Africa: A Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson’, a historical-colonial perspective of Africa and its people is given. The title ‘Different But Equal’ hints at how African people were treated to the contrary by Westerner colonialists. Although early travelers to ancient African kingdoms thought highly of the region’s culture and natural riches, more recent accounts see them as inferior. The exoticism of Africa and its culture is used as rationale to justify its inferiority and hence its rule. In this context, it is fair to claim that the history of Africa of recent centuries is representative of the history of European colonialism.
Dr. Basil Davidson informs the viewer how the African continent is one of the most geographically diverse in the world. Ranging from tundra to tropical rainforests, from savannahs to arid deserts, from fertile plains to . . . Read More