This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.
By Philippe R. Girard
Two hundred and ten years ago, on 1 January 1804, Haiti formally declared its independence from France at the end of a bitter war against forces sent by Napoléon Bonaparte. This was only the second time, after the United States in 1776, that an American colony had declared independence, so the event called for pomp and circumstance.
In anticipation of Argentina’s mid-term elections to be held on Sunday, 27 October 2013, Political Analysis co-editor R. Michael Alvarez (Caltech) discussed some of the most important things that we need to know about this contest with Francisco Cantu (University of Houston) and Sebastian Saiegh (UCSD).
By Jean Allain
Today is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, established by UNESCO “to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of peoples”. That tragedy was the development of, in Robin Blackburn’s words, a “different species of slavery”. One that took the artisan slavery of old (consisting in the main of handfuls of slaves working on small estates or as domestic servants) and industrialised it, creating plantations in the Americas which fed the near insatiable appetite of Europeans for sugar, coffee, and tobacco.
Few could have imagined the elusive floral wonder retrieved in January 1837 from the heart of Guyana’s wildest jungles– and fewer still could have predicted the extent to which it would transform an entire continent’s cultural and aesthetic sensibilities.
On the fifth of May, many in the US and Mexico will celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. In this excerpt from Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, Jeffrey Pilcher looks at Cinco de Mayo and the first written instance of the word “taco.”
By Natasha Zaretsky
In March 1978, Ada Smith, a fifty-six-year old woman from Memphis, sat down at her typewriter and wrote an angry letter to Tennessee’s Republican Senator Howard Baker. She explained that until recently, she had always been proud of her country, and “its superiority in the world.” But now her pride had turned to fear: “After coming through that great fiasco Vietnam, which cost us billions in dollars and much more in American blood, we are now faced with another act of stupidity, which, in the years to come, could be even more costly.”
By Ilan Stavans
The Hispanic world is in the news lately, and the news is mostly good. Latinos in the United States are a growing political force, and developments in Latin America are at the forefront of world affairs. To start with, Latinos, the largest minority in the United States (approximately 57 million strong and slated to double by 2030), are acknowledged to be the deciding factor in Barack Obama’s re-election.
By Virginia Garrard-Burnett
After the judge’s ruling Monday in Guatemala City, the crowd outside erupted into cheers and set off fireworks. The unthinkable had happened: Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez had cleared the way for retired General Efraín Ríos Montt, who between 1982 and 1983 had overseen the darkest years of that nation’s 36-year long armed conflict, would stand trial for genocide.
By William H. Beezley
Mexicans are celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) 1862, when at the Battle of Puebla, their troops defeated a veteran French invasion force. The battle shocked western leaders and military observers in equal measure. The Mexicans were viewed as ragtag, poorly-armed bandits rather than soldiers, and the French were considered by many as the world’s best-equipped, most-experienced army. As astonishing as the victory was, it did not end the French invasion, but only postponed it for a year until a second Battle at Puebla.
This Day in World History
Dressed in army fatigues and surrounded by supporters and reporters, 32-year old Fidel Castro took the oath of office as Cuba’s prime minister on February 16, 1959. He would remain in power for nearly fifty years.
This Day in World History
On February 2, 1536, Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza founded the city he named Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire—Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new town was meant to spearhead the Spanish effort to colonize the interior of South America. It came less than two years after conquistadors had returned to Spain from Peru with treasures seized from the Inca empire.
On January 26, 1500, Spanish sailor Vincente Yáñez Pinzón spotted land. He named the cape the Cabo de Santa María de la Consolación. The site was near modern-day Recife, Brazil, making Pinzón the first European to explore Brazil.
This Day in World History
According to the tradition accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, a fifty-five-year old Native American who had converted to Christianity was moving down Tepeyac Hill to a church in Mexico City to attend mass. Suddenly, he beheld a vision of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and an iconic figure in the Catholic Church.
By Gerald Steinacher
April 11, 1961 marked the beginning of the trial against Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. In the course of the trial, the world came face to face with the reality of the Holocaust or what the Nazis called the “final solution of the Jewish problem” – the killing of 6 million people. Newspapers around the world published thousands of articles about Eichmann and his role in the Holocaust. But what none of the international journalists touched upon was probably the most intriguing aspect of Eichmann’s story: the way in which he, the bureaucrat of the Holocaust, managed to escape justice soon after the war and flee to Argentina.
By Susan Pick
With all the ambitious international goals and targets that developing countries have committed to, from poverty reduction to universal education and access to health care, we’ve observed a not uncommon response by the governments: too strong a focus on the public image of the new programs, not strong enough a focus on making the programs truly accessible. Here’s an example to illustrate our point: On a daily basis, Mexicans are exposed to immeasurable social development propaganda from government agencies. The propaganda is unavoidable because these messages are disseminated via commercials on public transportation, highway billboards, TV and radio, and