I acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities stands on Miní Sóta Makhóčhe, the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary Homelands of Dakhóta Oyáte. The University occupies land that was cared for and called home by Dakota peoples from time immemorial. Ceded in the treaties of 1837 and 1851, I acknowledge that this land has always held, and continues to hold, great spiritual and personal significance for Dakota. By offering this land acknowledgment, I recognize the sovereignty of Dakota, and I acknowledge, support, and advocate for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those forcibly removed from their Homelands. I will continue to raise awareness of Indigenous peoples, histories, and cultures in my work, especially within social studies education, and I will continue to work to hold the University of Minnesota accountable to Dakota and other Indigenous peoples and nations. It is my sincere hope that the curriculum project discussed below will serve as a catalyst for recognizing and unsettling settler colonial narratives in social studies classrooms across Minnesota, especially sixth-grade Minnesota Studies classes.

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Editor’s Note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on November 18th.

In Spain, the far-right were also-rans, effectively discredited and shunned in mainstream circles and government affairs since the end of the Francoist period in the mid-1970s. Those days are long gone.

Vox, which promotes itself as the “patriotic alternative,” burst onto the national scene late last year in the elections in the southern region of Andalucía, sending shockwaves through Spanish politics. In the wake of this political upheaval came the general election in April, where the ultranationalist party received just over 10% of votes and won 24 seats in the 350-seat Parliament. That election resulted in no clear majority and plunged the country into another round of voting. In the Nov. 10 election, Vox more than doubled its previous results. Now 52 seats strong, Vox has become the third-largest political force in the country.

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Editor’s note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on October 31st.

The Armenian genocide is an indisputable historical fact. The evidence that Ottoman officials set about on a systematic plan to annihilate its Armenian population is undeniable.

So too is the genocide of Native peoples in the United States, brought on by policies that varied from extermination to forced assimilation. The evidence of this points to “intent to destroy, in whole or in part” (U.N. Genocide Convention definition) the Native American populations in the United States.

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Editor’s Note: This is an updated post from August 2018. The updated version appeared on MinnPost on October 23.

Today the Spanish government removed the corpse of General Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, a grandiose mausoleum and basilica near Madrid that the Dictator had designed to eternally enshrine his victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). After much criticism and legal battles, Franco’s remains were moved to a family tomb in a cemetery in the outskirts of the capital.

Why has it taken so long to remove the body of a dictator from a sanctuary that celebrates his rule? 

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Earlier this year, Cambodia marked the 40th anniversary of the collapse of the Khmer Rouge and the end of the genocide that left an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people dead and countless Cambodians displaced. It made sense then for the largest academic group dedicated to the study of genocide, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), to host its biannual conference in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, this past July. The conference would provide an opportunity for the country to demonstrate its resiliency and give attendees (myself included) a chance to see the lingering effects of mass violence in a place where its impacts are still clearly visible and permeate nearly every aspect of society.

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Everybody has a family narrative or childhood story to tell. Elizabeth Warren’s is about her Native American ancestor; my mother’s about her German Jewish neighbor. And while Elizabeth Warren’s ancestor remains elusive, my mother’s neighbor and what I heard about him growing up has become more concrete over the years. It literally became concrete when in 2005 a Stolperstein (stumbling stone) bearing his name was installed in front of the house he had owned before he was deported and murdered in Theresienstadt.

Sally Cohen’s Stolperstein in Remscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia

Here is the story my mother told me. It was in late 1941 when she noted that Sally Cohen, an older gentleman and respected citizen (so she thought) had to wait in the corner of the neighborhood bakery store until everybody else was served. She also noted that he was now wearing a monstrous star-shaped yellow badge that said, “Jude.” My mother was 11 at the time and to this day hasn’t forgotten the sad and embarrassed look on Herr Cohen’s face. When she asked the adults why Herr Cohen was treated that way, she was told not to worry and that all of this was mandated by a new law.

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The following offers a recap, an update and another perspective to the Waldsee issue previously discussed in this blog 3/25/3019 by George Dalbo under the title “More than a name… .  The current author discovered the history of the Waldsee name and has remained actively engaged in the Concordia Language Village response.

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Thomas Schmidinger teaches at the University of Vienna in Austria and is both secretary-general of the Austrian Society for the Promotion of Kurdology and coeditor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook.

He is an expert on Syria, Iraq, and Iran and the author of a number of books on migration, cultural integration, and the Middle East, several of which have been translated by U.S. publishers.

Dr. Schmidinger was invited by multiple U.S. Universities, institutions, and bookstores to give a series of lectures this September on his newest book, The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava (PM Press, 2019). The organizers and publishers worked for months on the book tour, and he had all travel plans and papers in order. Everything was set, or so it seemed.

When Dr. Schmidinger arrived at the boarding area on Thursday September 12th, 2019 for the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, where he previously spent a year as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, he was detained and questioned by airline security about his research in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and his travels to these countries. The security personnel expressed their assurances that he would be allowed to board, but they needed to get the go-ahead from Washington, D.C. Then, the unexpected happened.

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Kathryn Agnes Huether was born and raised in rural Montana. As the daughter of a music teacher and a school superintendent, music and education were always at the center of her life. At the age of 4, Kathryn’s mother, Renée, introduced the violin into her life, driving 100 miles one way for a half-hour violin lesson. Renée’s dedication to her daughter’s musical training dynamically shaped Kathryn’s worldview and studies, as did David, her father, who exemplified hard work and kindness. Kathryn graduated with a double BA in Violin Performance and Religious Studies from Montana State University in 2013. Following undergrad, Kathryn went on to attend the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she received a Master’s in Religious Studies, with an endorsement in Jewish Studies. Her first Master’s thesis was the catalyst for her PhD research, as she examined the soundtracks of two Holocaust film documentaries, Night and Fog (1956) and Auschwitz Death Camp: Oprah, Elie Wiesel (2006), arguing that the accompanying soundtracks subjectively influenced a viewer’s reception and understanding of the documentary material presented. 

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Germans also separated children from their parents. In a previously unknown collection at the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek, I recently discovered documents that confirm colonial authorities used family separation as a means of domination in German Southwest Africa (present-day Namibia), Germany’s first and only settlement colony.

A dispatch to the Omaruru District Commander, for instance, details the separation of Emma, an 8-year-old Herero girl, from her parents as they departed from the capital city of Windhoek. It concludes that “she ran after her parents since she belongs with her Omaruru family.” Emma’s fate remains a mystery to the present day. 

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