Where to find good online history discussion?
March 13, 2011 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Where to find good online history discussion?

Can you recommend a good history discussion website?

I'm aware website such as All Empire and Historum. Are there any other websites that have good history discussion?
posted by Carius to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Is there a particular part of history you're looking for?

"History" is pretty broad.
posted by dfriedman at 8:01 PM on March 13, 2011

No, I don't have any particular period in mind. I'm always interested in learning about history in different period.

If you want me to limit the time peroid, how about from rise of Sumer to Waterloo?
posted by Carius at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2011

Do you have a particular geographical region in mind, or genre of history? The history classes at my university tend to be divided by time, topic (ie "environmental" or "women and gender in....") and region.
posted by aniola at 8:53 PM on March 13, 2011

Hmm.....I just realized I have asked a very broad question that's unanswerable if I don't limit the scope.

How about we do this. Right now, I'm very interested in Peloponnesian War is there any website I could go to discuss the Greek classical age?

Other than wikipedia I can't find that much information about political and economics history of Sassanid Empire in English. Is there history website out there I can discuss pre-Islamic Persia?

I know almost nothing about Indian history prior to British conquest, is there any website out there I can join the discussion?

How was the Dutch able to break the Portuguese's monopoly on Asian trade (e.g displaced Portuguese from Malacca, Sri Lanka, and Japan). Good website to discuss European colonization?
posted by Carius at 9:28 PM on March 13, 2011

Below is the outline of lectures and readings from a class I took last fall on colonialism by an excellent teacher at U.C. Davis. Although I don't see any websites posted, this does make some suggestions for books you can read, and I'm sure there are a lot of great search terms, big names, etc., in here to get you started. If there are any .pdfs listed, I have access to them for a couple more months and can email them to you. If you're interested, I will post leads on history in the Middle East as well, and can email you the complete set of lecture notes for one of those classes.

Week 1: New World Encounters
9/29: Lecture: Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the New World
10/1: Lecture: the Spanish conquest of Mexico
Discussion: Thinking about our sources. Did the Aztecs perform human sacrifice,
did ‘the natives’ think Cortés was a god, were the indigenous Caribbean Indians
cannibals, and why should we care?
Reading: Miguel Leon-Portilla, Broken Spears, ch. 1-15

Week 2: Atlantic World-Slavery and the Invention of Modern Racism
10/6: Lecture: Sugar, Silver, and Slaves: the Plantation System
10/8: Lecture: Early modern European notions of race
Discussion: Blackburn, New World Slavery
Reading: Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the
Modern, 1492-1800 [CR]

Week 3: French and Haitian Revolutions
10/13 Lecture: French and Haitian revolutions
10/15: Lecture: Napoleon in Egypt
Discussion: Napoleon in Egypt
Reading: Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti, Napoleon in Egypt, “Al-Jabarti’s Chronicle of the
First Seven Months of the French Occupation of Egypt.”

Week 4: Capitalism and Industrialism
10/20: Lecture: The Industrial Revolution
10/22: Lecture: What is Capitalism?
Discussion: Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts
Reading: Karl Marx, The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 [CR]
William Blake, Selected Poems: “Holy Thursday,” “Chimney Sweep,” “London,” and the
“Human Abstract” [CR]

Week 5: Colonizing India
10/29: Lecture: Colonizing India
Reading: Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia [CR]

Week 6: Colonial Modernity: Bourgeois bodies and racial selves
11/3: Lecture: Colonialism and Race
11/5: Lecture: Colonialism, Gender, and Sexuality
Discussion: Mani and Chatterjee
Reading: Lata Mani, “Contentious traditions: the Debate on Sati” [CR]
Partha Chatterjee, “The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question” [CR]

Week 7: Scramble for Africa/ Horrors of Colonialism
11/10: Lecture: Colonizing Egypt
11/12: Lecture: Scramble for Africa: The Belgian Congo
Discussion: Conrad
Reading: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Week 8: Anti-colonial nationalism
11/17: Lecture: Anticolonial nationalism in India (Events, ideas, practices)
Discussion: Gandhi
11/19: Lecture: Anticolonial nationalism in Egypt (Events, ideas, practices)
Reading: Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, pp. 1-119.

Week 9: Decolonization
Discussion: Fanon
Paper due on smartsite on 11/24 by 1:30 p.m.
Reading: Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, pp. 1-144.

Week 10: U.S. Imperialism in Southeast Asia
12/1: Lecture: What are the different forms of decolonization?
12/3: Lecture: Vietnam
Reading: Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars, pp. 1-149.
posted by aniola at 11:09 AM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here's the one on the Middle East in the 20th Century. Not exactly what you're looking for, but again, maybe it will have some leads for you.

9/23: Introduction: Geographies: Imagined and Real

Week 1: The Colonial Legacy in the Middle East
9/28: Lecture: On Orientalism
Film: Edward Said: On Orientalism (1998)
9/30: Lecture: “After we have captured their bodies”
Discussion: Djebar and Memmi
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, chap. 6-7.
Assia Djebar, Selections, Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, pp. 6-8, 14-19, 28-34, 39-45, 64-79.
Albert Memmi, Selections, The Colonizer and the Colonized, pp. 1-18, 77-89. [CR]

Week 2: Cultural and Political Renaissance
10/5: Lecture: What is the nahda? Literary forms and the construction of modernity
10/7: Lecture: Constitutionalism and Modernism in Iran and Turkey
Primary Source Selections, Khater, Sources in the History of the Modern Middle East, pp. 66-77, 89-100. [CR]
Primary Source Selections, Anouar Abdel-Malek, ed. Contemporary Arab Political Thought, pp. 27-30, 88-92, 112-114. [CR]
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, chap. 8-10.

Week 3: The Middle East from the interwar era to the end of World War II:
Anti-colonial nationalism in Egypt and the Levant
10/12: Map quiz
10/12: Lecture: Artifacts and Ideologies of Nationhood: Greater Syria
10/14: Lecture: Artifacts and Ideologies of Nationhood: Egypt
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, chap.11-12.
James Gelvin, “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New
Framework,” International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1994),
pp. 645-661.
Primary Source Selections, Khater, pp. 162-181. [CR]
Primary Source Selection, in Esposito and Donahue, pp. 87-92. [CR]
Primary Source Selections, Abdel-Malek, pp. 95-96. [CR]

Week 4: Palestine/ Israel, Arabism, and Revolutionary Nationalism
10/19: Lecture: Catastrophe/Independence
10/21: Lecture: Nasserism, Pan-Arabism, and Revolutionary Nationalism
Film clips: Umm Kulthum: A Voice like Egypt (dir. Michal Goldman)
Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, chap. 13, 15, 17.
Ilan Pappe, A History of Modern Palestine, pp. xii-xxi, 1-13, 123-184. [CR]
Suggested Reading:
Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun and other Palestinian Stories, pp. 21-74.

Week 5: Revolutionary Movements
10/26: Lecture: Iraq: Revolution and counter-Revolution
10/28: Mid-term Examination
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, Chap. 16.
Samira Haj, The Making of Iraq, 1900-1963, chapter 5. [CR]
John F. Devlin, “The Baath Party: Rise and Metamorphosis,” American Historical Review, 96
(5): 1991, 1396-1407. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8762%28199112%2996%3A5%3C1396%3ATBPRAM%3E2.0.CO%3B2-L

Week 6: The Algerian Revolution
11/2: Lecture: Uncivil War
11/4: Film screening: The Battle of Algiers (dir. Gilles Pontecorvo)
Discussion: Battle of Algiers
John Ruedy, Modern Algeria, chap. 6, pp. 156-194. [CR]
Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror, chap. 1-3, pp.
1-49. [CR]
Human Rights watch, “Torture in Iraq,” New York Review of Books 52, no.17 (NOVEMBER 3,
2005). Available online: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18414
M.T. Kaufman. "What does the Pentagon see in the 'Battle of Algiers'?" The New York Times,
September 7, 2003. Available online: http://www.rialtopictures.com/battle.html

Week 7: Iran: From the White Revolution to the Islamic Revolution
11/9: Lecture: Social Origins of the Iranian Revolution
Discussion: Khomeini and Shari’ati
11/11: Holiday
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, chap. 20.
Imam Khomeini, Primary source selections, “Islamic Government,” in Islam and Revolution
(translated and annotated by Hamid Algar), pp. 13-54. [CR]
Ali Shari’ati, Primary source selections, On the Sociology of Islam: Lectures by Ali Shari’ati, pp.
39-69, 97-110. [CR]

Week 8: Islamic Revival
11/16: Lecture: The Gendered Paradox of Revolution
11/18: Lecture: The Politics of Piety
Richard Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers, pp. 1-34, 209-259. [CR]
Hasan al-Banna, Primary Source Selection, “The New Renaissance,” in Donahue and Esposito
(eds.) Islam in Transition, pp. 59-63. [CR]

Week 9: Rich and Poor States: The Political Economy of Oil
11/23: Lecture: America’s Kingdom: The Politics of Oil
11/23: Analytic paper due in class by 12:10 p.m.
Cleveland, Modern Middle East, chap. 18 & 21.

Week 10: Culture and Modernism: Narrating the Obscene Excess of State Power
11/30: Lecture: Nobody Listens to a Poor Man
12/2: Lecture: Killing Politics: Egypt and Syria
Discussion: Ibrahim
Sonallah Ibrahim, The Committee
Timothy Mitchell, “America’s Egypt: the Discourse of the Development Industry” Middle East
Report 169 (1991): 18-34+36. Available online: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0899-
posted by aniola at 11:17 AM on March 14, 2011

Oh hey, I found some links on Africa for you (and more search ideas/terms). Based on those links, I'd say that limiting your google searches to .edu sites for programs might net you lots of good links.

www.allafrica.com, collection of current news stories on Africa
http://aas.ucdavis.edu, UCD’s Program in African American and African Studies
http://www.ihc.ucsb.edu/africanstudies , University of California African Studies Multi-Campus Research Group
http://africa.berkeley.edu/Links/AfricaLinks.php , UC Berkeley Center for African Studies website

Week 1, 3/29-4/2: The Development Discourse
1. Escobar, Chapter 1, “Introduction: Development and the Anthropology of Modernity,”
pp. 3-20
2. Frederick Cooper, “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development
Concept,” in International Development and the Social Sciences, pp. 64-92
3. James Ferguson, “Anthropology and its Evil Twin: ‘Development’ in the Constitution of
a Discipline,” in International Development and the Social Sciences, pp. 150-175

Week 2, 4/5-4/9: Global Markets
1. Escobar, Chapter 3, “Economics and the Space of Development: Tales of Growth and
Capital,” pp. 55-101
2. Jeremy Prestholdt, “On the Global Repercussions of East African Consumerism,” The
American Historical Review, Vol. 109, Issue 3, available online at
3. Anthony Giddens, From The Consequences of Modernity, in Colonial Discourse and
Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, pp. 181-189

Week 3, 4/12-4/16: The Ideology and Economics of Race in Africa, 1850-1950
1. Diana Wylie, Starving on a Full Stomach, Parts I and II, pp. 1-126
2. Patrick Brantlinger, “Victorians and Africans: The Genealogy of the Myth of the Dark
Continent,” in Race, Writing, and Difference, pp. 185-222
3. Saul Dubow, Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (1995), Ch. 4

Week 4, 4/19-4/23: Poverty and Malnutrition
1. Diana Wylie, Starving on a Full Stomach, Parts III and IV, pp. 127- 244
2. Escobar, Chapter 2, “The Problematization of Poverty: The Tale of Three Worlds of
Development,” pp. 21-54, and Chapter 4, “The Dispersion of Power: Tales of Food and
Hunger,” pp. 102-153

Week 5, 4/26-4/30: Production and Reproduction
1. Escobar, Chapter 5, “Power and Visibility: Tales of Peasants, Women, and the
Environment,” pp. 154-211
2. Nancy Rose Hunt, “‘Le bébé en brousse’: European Women, African Birth Spacing, and
Colonial Intervention in Breast Feeding in the Belgian Congo,” in the International
Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3 (1988), pp. 401-432
3. Lynn Thomas, Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya,
Chapter 2, “Colonial Uplift and Girl-Midwives,” pp. 52-78

Week 6, 5/3-5/7: Modernity, Technology, and Identity
1. Dorothy L. Hodgson, “‘Once Intrepid Warriors’: Modernity and the Production of
Maasai Masculinities,” Ethnology, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Spring, 1999), pp. 121-150
2. Patrick Harries, “Missionaries, Marxists and Magic: Power and the Politics of Literacy in
South-East Africa,” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep. 2001), pp.

Week 7, 5/10-5/12: Working for and against Colonial Development
1. Ousmane Sembene, God’s Bits of Wood

Week 8, 5/17-5/21: Development and the Nation
1. Frederick Cooper, “‘Our Strike’: Equality, Anticolonial Politics and the 1947-48 Railway
Strike in French West Africa,” The Journal of African History, Vol. 37, No. 1 (1996), pp.
2. Mamadou Diouf, “Senegalese Development: From Mass Mobilization to Technocratic
Elitism,” in International Development and the Social Sciences, pp. 291-319.

Week 9, 5/24-5/28: Development in a Post-Colonial Culture
1. Escobar, Encountering Development, Ch. 6, Conclusion
2. Leopold Senghor, “Some Thoughts on Africa: A Continent in Development”
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs), Vol. 38, No. 2 (Apr 1962),
3. E.S Atieno Odhiambo, “The Cultural Dimensions of Development in Africa” African
Studies Review, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Dec 2002) 1-16
posted by aniola at 11:28 AM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

What exactly do you mean by "discuss"? I'm a gradate student in history, and have never come across anything like what you're describing. Are you hoping for a forum where you can ask questions to scholars? Or somewhere reasonably well-informed people gather to have general discussions? If it's the former, you'd probably be better served by reading books published by reputable presses or taking classes at accredited schools. If it's the latter, I'd be surprised if something like that existed. Real, qualified historians have discussions in person (at conferences, etc) or in academic journals for the most part, although a few decent historians have blogs. I would at best consider some sort of general message-board setup not operated by a university factually questionable- watch out where your history comes from!
posted by oinopaponton at 1:39 PM on March 14, 2011

Another clarification. I'm mostly looking for history forums to discuss various historical topics with reasonably well-informed people. It would be even better if there is a history forum I can ask questions to scholars. I'm well aware of a lot of garbages existed as "historical facts" on the interweb but once a while when you combed through all the bullshits there are few gems.

There were few forums I've visited in the past with fairly good historical discussions but with time, the signal to noise ratio had reached unacceptably low.

Of course, in an ideal world I should be reading reputable books instead of asking questions on the internet. But the problem is not everyone has access to good academic library. How many public libraries do you think will have "Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army" in their collection? The closest accredited university with courses I want to take is two and half hours away.

Since this real world is not perfect, I want to do the next best thing. Do you know of any blogs/forums/websites with good historical discussions?

Thanks in advance with any suggestions.
posted by Carius at 7:56 PM on March 14, 2011

I really like the Dan Carlin Hardcore History forums.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 12:09 PM on March 15, 2011

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