Category Archives: history

Using and Abusing the Past

The Agenda had a really interesting discussion about the importance of good history. They touched on topics like national identity, myths, Ireland, and Quebec separatism.

I highly recommend it. You can download the podcast or stream the video here.

How about that?


Strange Maps shows the electoral impact of the (really) old Germany-Russia border through modern Poland.

Lucius Septimius Severus, African-Roman Emperor

While acknowledging that the Roman Republic/Empire was complex and long-lived enough to provide us with dozens of questionable parallels for any scenario, I think we can agree that they are always neat.

We do not know for certain whether or not Septimius Severus was black. That is itself significant. One historian writing three hundred years after his lifetime claimed that he was ‘dark’, and one or two portrait statues appear to show him with African features. But the vast majority of images that survive make him look like any other Roman emperor before him – his whiteness over-emphasised by the shiny white marble in which he was so often portrayed. This was not a black man claiming the imperial throne for himself. This was the Roman imperial machine turning a man of colour into an emperor more or less indistinguishable from all his predecessors. The machine was making sure that race did not show.

Shades of Obama?

(photo credit)

La mémoire des anges

Watch the trailer for The Memories of Angels at Spacing Montreal. It is really cool.

I’ve never been to Montreal. As a young, pretty much unilingual (merci, public schools) Ontarian, Montreal has always felt like a gray anaemic has-been somewhere out past Kingston. I know that’s not a fair assessment and I’d like to see the city today… almost as much as I would like to see it in its prime!

The Montreal of this film is far more interesting than history lessons (those damn schools again) or Canadian popular culture (such that it is) have led me to believe.

[image] promotional still from NFB

Spacing Montreal or NFB beta