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4 posts from March 2015

20 March 2015

Symposium: Alaska, the Arctic and the US Imagination


Above: illustration from 'Alaska, its history and resources...' [BL: 10460.dd.17].

On Monday the Library hosted scholars from the US, Canada and Europe for a day-long discussion on the significance of Alaska and the Arctic to the United States. As you'll see from the programme (at the bottom of this post), the day covered a lot of ground, with discussion ranging from Alaska in film, to the artwork of William Bradford, the USS Nautilus and much more in-between.

The diversity of the day was drawn together by our keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Robinson, who provided a fascinating overview of American interest in the Arctic, charting its growth through the Alaska purchase, the press mania of the search for Franklin and the Cold War geopolitics of the DEW Line. The talk also intersected with some of the Library's wider work, most notably our Digital Curators' innovative research in the digital humanities. Dr. Robinson charted the rising use of the term 'Arctic' in nineteenth century publications, with early results showing how events, such as the search for Franklin, caused imaginative interest (in the form of writing and publishing) in the area to spike.


Above: illustration from 'Alaska, its history and resources'. Courtesy of the BL Flickr pool.

The day was inspired by the change of Chair for the Arctic Council, coming later this year, as Canada hands over to the United States. Lines in the Ice has been lucky in the amount of relevant events that have fallen around its time in the Entrance Hall Gallery, what with HMS Erebus being found in the summer of 2014, and we were keen to draw connections to this event in Arctic politics too. As a result, we wound up the day with a public panel called, 'The Future of the Arctic', which hosted representatives from the Canadian High Commission, the Lords Select Committee for the Arctic, the US Embassy and the scientist Dr. Gabrielle Walker in conversation with the public, all chaired by Professor Klaus Dodds.

Excellent audience questions and thoughtful answers from the panel made this an engaging and insightful event. It also drew together the strands of the day. Mention of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station tied in with a paper by Team Americas' own Rosanna White while discussions about the agency of Arctic indigenous peoples in global politics connected to an earlier paper on the Harriman Expedition by Jen Smith

Overall the day articulated a core point similar to that of Lines in the Ice, that our contemporary interest in and experience of the Arctic does not exist in isolation of the area's history. At a time when the challenges facing the area are immense we must not be bound to this history but learn from it to create a viable future for all of those who live in Alaska and the wider Arctic regions.

Thanks to all our participants who took the time and effort to be part of this discussion, Team Americas hopes to keep in touch with you in the future.


Symposium programme:  

Monday 16 March 2015
The British Library Conference Centre

Session 1: Emerging research on the Polar Regions

  • Claire Warrior (Cambridge and National Maritime Museum), ‘Museums, families and the continued creation of Arctic histories in Britain’
  • Michaela Pokorná (University of Tromsø - The Arctic University of Norway), ‘The Old Frontier in a New Garment: The Last American Frontier in Charles Brower’s Fifty Years Below Zero (1942)’
  • Rosanna White (Royal Holloway, University of London/Eccles Centre), ‘Ceremonies of Possession: Performing sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic’
  • Johanna Feier (TU Dortmund University, Germany), ‘North to a Greener Future: The Filmic Construction of Alaska’s Far North’
  • Kim Salmons (St Mary’s University, Twickenham), ‘The Greely Arctic Expedition: A New Source for Joseph Conrad’s short story “Falk”’


  • Michael Robinson (Hillyer College, University of Hartford), ‘American Visions of the Arctic, 1815-2015’

Session 2: Bringing the Arctic home

  • Judith Ann Schiff (Chief Research Archivist, Yale University Library), ‘Yale’s Arctic Archives’
  • George Philip LeBourdais (Stanford University), ‘An Aesthetics of Ice: William Bradford’s Arctic Regions and America’s New Ecology’
  • Susan Eberhard (University of California, Berkeley), ‘Panther Adrift: Loss, Commemoration and William Bradford’s Arctic Landscapes’
  • Jen Smith (University of California, Berkeley), ‘(Re)imagining Race, Nature, and the Colonial Frontier in Northern Spaces through the Harriman Alaska Expedition Archive, and the Harriman Retraced of 2001’

Session 3: The Arctic and US politics

  • Matthew Kahn (Northwestern University), ‘The North Hope: Energy Development, Environmental Protection, and Competing Visions for Alaska’s North Slope’
  • Charlotte Hille (University of Amsterdam) and Ruud Janssens (University of Amsterdam), ‘National Security and Polar Profits: United States government perceptions of the Arctic from USS Nautilus to NSPD 66’
  • Dawn Alexandrea Berry (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, HI), ‘Greenlandic Resources and the Future of American Security Policies in the Arctic’
  • Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Re-imagining Alaska: Building scientific bridges with Beringia (c.1967-2014)’

Team Americas bookshelf: How much did Carl Jung learn from his trip to India?


Carl Gustav Jung, image from Wikipedia

[Ed: This is the first of Team Americas' new series where we reflect on what we've been reading recently. It's also a chance for you to meet our new colleague, Matthew Neill. From April, Matthew will be curating the Australasian and South Asian English collections, so Team Americas has grown in more than one way, and he's been reading 'Jung in India']

Carl Gustave Jung (1875-1961) the Swiss psychiatrist, psychotherapist and founder of Analytical Psychology – who generated the idea of the Collective Unconscious, as distinct from Freud, made a visit to India in December 1937. It is not clear from the archives from whom the invitation to India came? At the heart of the visit was the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Scientific Congress in Calcutta, in January 1938.

It is thought that the invitation came from the British, with the intention of conferring upon Jung an honorary degree. This then was the formal purpose of the visit. Jung joined the delegates in Bombay, as they gathered for a sightseeing tour of India that included Benares, the spiritual home of India; and Calcutta, the Imperial Capital of British India. Between Benares and the opening of the Silver Jubilee Congress, the delegation travelled to New Delhi, then Darjeeling, taking in, also the foothills of Mount Everest.

The Indian Science Congress events were due to take place from December 17, 1937, to January 15, 1938. Jung stayed on in India after the completion of the Congress. Throughout the trip, Jung travelled over 6 thousand miles by train, and or car, in two months he was in India. Notwithstanding the strain of an illness, this was a demanding schedule for a man of 63.

Jung’s itinerary

Dec 17                   Arrival in Bombay

Dec 17-18             Welcome and celebrations in Bombay, at the Taj Mahal Hotel

Welcome celebrations at Ballard Pier – the delegation would embark on a country side tour from here

Official dinner and lunch at the Willingdon Club and the Taj Mahal Hotel

Jung gave some public talks

A visit from the Maharaja of Rewa

Dec 18                   boarded the special train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, embarking for the grand tour of the historical sites of India

Dec 19                   first stop at Hyderabad followed by visit to the Hill Fort at Golkonda, Osmania University, and the sixteenth century tombs of the Quth Shahi Kings.

Dec 20                   the delegation proceeded to Aurangabad to view the Ellora and Ajanta Caves, Jung was interested in the frescoes based on the Buddha’s life stories. The fortress at Daulatabad was also visited.

Dec 22                   visit to Sanchi, the remains stirred Jung’s ideas on the Collective Unconscious

Dec 23                   the delegates proceed to the sixteenth century Mughal city of Agra, taking in the ruins of the walled city, the red sandstone fortress and the Taj Mahal and Akbar the Great’s deserted administrative capital of Fatehpur Sikri – close to Agra

Dec 24                   it is Christmas Eve and the party reach Delhi, one of India’s most ancient of cities, with its pre-Christian history, made up of ancient fortresses, palaces and mosques. Jung viewed Delhi Fort, Qutub Minar, Masjid, Shah Jahan’s palace and Diwan I Khas. Sightseeing was interspersed with luncheons and welcome ceremonies.

Dec 25                   Christmas Day and the delegates headed toward Dehra Dun to visit the Forest Research institute, a scientific institution of the colonial era

Dec 26                   the delegates leave Dehra Dun for Benares

Dec 27                   Arrival of the delegates in Benares, followed by a convocation ceremony at Banaras Hindu University. Jung ventures into the City. Unable to tolerate the grimness of the city, Jung exclaims: ‘I cannot stand this any longer; I want to return to the Hotel.’

Dec 28                   Jung takes leave of the delegation and heads to Calcutta for the beginning of the congress proceedings.

Dec 28                   the rest of the delegates leave Benares for Calcutta, but take a detour to Darjeeling on the way, and see the foothills of Mount Everest

Jan 2                       the celebrations of the delegates continue on arrival in Calcutta and the Congress begins in earnest

Jan 2                       Jung has contracted Amoebic Dysentery in Benares and is hospitalized in Calcutta

Jan 7                       the proceedings are well underway while Jung is in hospital, but he makes an appearance at the annual meeting of the Indian Psychological Society

Jan 7                       Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India visits Jung in hospital and confers on him a Doctor of Science, from the University of Allahabad

Jan 9                       Jung delivers a lecture at Calcutta University. This lecture was reported in the press and concerned Jung’s definition of the Collective Unconscious

Jan 9                       Jung attends the closing ceremony of the Congress

Jan 10                     Jung grants an interview to Dr. Indra Sen, an Indian psychologist, who will go on to develop his own school of integral psychology, strongly influenced by Jung. The content of the meeting remained secret

Jan 11                     Jung gives a popular lecture which is again reported in the press. The lecture concerned the primitive instincts of man and his inner urges, and the concept of psychological types

Jan 12                      Jung meets with a member of the Ramakrisna Order in Calcutta.

Jan 13                     Jung leaves Calcutta for Orissa to begin his private tour of South India

Jan 18                     Jung arrives in Madras and is convinced that he take lessons from his own experience, rather than ideas borrowed from Indian masters

Jan 19                     Jung travels from Madras to Mysore

Jan 23                     Jung visits Trichur and sees the Zoo and local temples

Jan 25                     Jung travels on to Trivandrum where he gives his last formal lectures in India at the University of Trivandrum

Jan 28                     Last of two lectures in Trivandrum

Jan 28                     Jung see’s the Indian Ocean and leaves Trivandrum for a Shiva temple in Madurai, known as the Great temple

Jan 29                     Jung crosses to Ceylon and Colombo Port

Jan 30                     Jung visits more temples around Lake Kandy famed for housing relics of the Buddha

End of Jan              Jung heads back to Colombo

Feb 2                      Jung gives talk at the BMA dinner his last event on the Indian Sub-continent


Jung’s trip to the Silver Jubilee Indian Science Congress was not a success. Jung found he had no links with psychologists in India, or the wider scientific community there, which may lend credence to the belief that the invitation for his visit had been extended by the British, rather than an Indian intellectual elite. Jung had been led to believe falsely that there was a body of opinion that were familiar with his ideas. It was clear from the proceedings once they had begun, not only were Jung’s ideas  unknown in India, the congress displayed a pronounced and deliberate confederacy of a Freudian character that alienated Jung.

 In charge of the congress proceedings on Psychology was, Girindrasekar Bose, a Freudian. Bose made no effort to communicate with Jung at all. His inaugural address made no reference to Jung.  ‘…for all practical purposes Jung was ignored by the representatives of Indian psychology. At the symposium: ‘Contributions of Abnormal Psychology to Normal Psychology,’ the introductions to the papers were made by another Indian Freudian, S. C. Mitra whose words were woven with Freudian concepts only. Mitra was later criticized for ignoring other branches of psychology. Mitra responded by saying:

 ‘… I have not separately mentioned Jung, Adler and other contributions as I believe that valuable factual materials of these researches as distinguished from the philosophy underlying them have been incorporated in the psycho-analytical system.’

Freud’s followers were against Jung from the outset. He had not expected this, and it made the northern part of his visit to India personally unsatisfactory. Yet this was not true of the second part of Jung’s journey to South India, a personal journey that the present author considers to be the real guiding purpose of the visit to India. The visit to South India gave Jung a chance to compare the convictions of years of study with the art and architecture of South India and the messages that were contained in it. In future blogs the story of this visit will be recounted, as will the message which Jung drew from such experiences for human kind as a whole.


11 March 2015

More Polar Bears


'A Polar-Bear Arch', Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1902 [P.P.6383.da].  Image now in the public domain.

This morning, with a forthcoming exhibition in mind, I was on the hunt for one of Jack London's dogs. Diable was duly tracked down to the June, 1902 edition of the New York Cosmopolitan, where he appears in 'Diable - a Dog' (pp. 218-226; it spurred London on to write The Call of the Wild).  Despite the primitive power of London's prose, it is hard not to be distracted by the other delights offered by this influential magazine. For starters, an illustrated Paul Laurence Dunbar poem ('Joggin' Erlong') faces the final lines of London's short story ('Diable's body twitched with the shock, thrashed to the ground spasmodically a moment, and went suddenly limpid.  But his teeth still held fast-locked.') Turn the page, and we learn of the eruption of Mount Pelée (with photographs), followed by information on 'How Fashions are Set' (with plates). 

But best of all, perhaps, are the pieces on animals, ranging from circus to diving horses in a piece on the 'Thrill of Speed', to the 'Diversions of Some Millionaires' (photographs include 'Mr E.H. Harriman behind his favourite trotter' and 'Mr Harry Payne Whitney with his beagles'). The lolcats of their day (with an added dash of animal cruelty)?

I can't, though, resist the image above, from a piece on training animals. And, a reminder that our own, very well-trained, polar bear exhibition is still running (Lines in the Ice, until 19 April). 

[Matthew Shaw]



05 March 2015

Pais de maravillas: Cuba on the mind…


Leonardo Abaroa, Pais De Maravillas (Havana: Ediciones Extramuros, 1992) BL
Shelfmark RF.2015.a.23


The recent rapprochement between the United States and Cuba has brought new attention to Cuba, and in particular the challenges for Cuban society under the pressure of the American trade embargo since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union caused massive shortages of fuel, food, medicine and income from exports. Known as the ‘periodo especial,’ or the ‘special period,’ the crisis lasted for most of the 1990s and was a profound and transformative experience. Indeed, contemporary Cuban society cannot be understood without reference to this period. Most Cubans will share stories and pictures of how they survived. Havana’s famous ‘camello’ bus was introduced during the special period, as were the urban organic gardens known as ‘organoponicos.’ Not surprisingly, together with all of the significant socio-structural changes that followed the collapse of the USSR, Cubans’ self-understanding and vision for the future underwent deep re-evaluation. This was evidenced, in among other things, the art and literature produced at the time.

Here at the BL we recently acquired a collection of Cuban poetry and short stories written during the special period, the majority of which received the prestigious Luis Rogelio Nogueras prize.

One of my favourites is the collection of short poems calle Tablero de Ifa by Frank Upierre. The title is a reference to a divination table from the Yoruba based Cuban religion of Santeria.

The author writes, “We all have a legend, a poem, or a song that forms part of our life and, without knowing how, directs us.”

Frank Upierre, Tablero de Ifa  (Havana: Ediciones Extramuros, 1994) BL shelfmark RF.2015.a.16

The poems are full of metaphors drawn from the natural world, water, rain, dust, and stars, as well as the pilgrim and the traveller. They explore the constant tension between the permanent and the ephemeral, the spiritual and the material, history and the future. Reading them now in 2015 they leave me with both an awe inspired and eerie feeling. They reveal both the soul searching and the hardship of Cuban society, as well as its strength and it momentum.





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