Tag Archives: Ireland

Cinema and BBQ Updates from Summer 2016

It’s been a while since I blogged last. Which is fine. Because energy has been devoted to many, many other constructive things (like a very important capital campaign, overseeing a heritage riverboat, working with National Heritage Area folks, and so on). So this evening, while doing dishes after another exceptional lump charcoal grilling session (we used a baharat dry rub from Turkey on some chicken drum sticks from the Bis-Man Food Co-Op), I started piecing together a theme I caught in the latest couple movies I watched. These movies both took place in the periphery — either time or space — of the First World War, or WWI, or the Great War (since that was supposed to be the war to end all wars). So that’s the theme.

The movies themselves are good: they situate the viewer in the complex web of nation-state geo-politic, and also the internal struggles that individual empires experienced as nation-state making really grabbed at the grass roots level — or with radicals — just after the turn of the 19th century. One was a movie called Water Diviner, and the other was a Sundance series, Rebellion.

I liked Water Diviner. Russell Crowe is the lead in it, and he appropriately plays an Aussie. An Aussie who, after receiving word that his sons all perished in the ANZAC amphibious assault on Gallipoli, and after his wife so sadly takes her own life after learning that her sons perished, decides to visit the nation state of Turkey. I won’t spoil the film for you. But I will say that I sent the movie title to a Turkish friend, and he responded with something like, “That was a great flick.”

The series Rebellion also walked a tightrope in explaining the complexities inherent in trying to narrate the attempts of Irish groups who desired to overthrow the British yoke during the First World War. It indeed is a very, very nuanced, and complex story. Something that only extended literature or cinema can — if done right — accomplish.

The take away from these two films is not my flimsy review (if we want to call them even that). It’s that cinema is revisiting the First World War and the immediate aftermath quite seriously. And that’s a good thing. Because understanding it still illuminates today, the 21st century. And why things are the way they are. This, in turn, opens up conversations to ways in which we might consider changing them. For the better.

Live Blogging from the NZHA

I’m currently sitting in on Patrick Coleman’s talk entitled “Transnational Orangeism” at the New Zealand Historical Association’s biennial conference in the very antipodes at the University of Otago, Dunedin, south island New Zealand. The Orange Order was a militant organization that rose out of anti-Catholic sentiments in Ireland in the late-18th century. The order reached back into history to grab hold of the memory of William of Orange’s victory over King James. The former was protestant, the latter Catholic. It was a battle that was couched in religious terms, not only about politics and power, but the overlap of religion, politics and power.

Patrick Coleman considers the Orange Order in world history.

Patrick Coleman considers the Orange Order in world history.

The Orange order was global, and they established lodges throughout the world (Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, etc). Patrick used the historical figure of Edith O’Gorman (1842-1919), using historical biography to explain how the ideas of this particular movement moved across the world. Edith was famous amongst her 19th century Orangeists because she escaped nun-hood, converted to protestantism, and went on to give public talks about her self-described struggle.

The use and consideration of using historical biography to discuss world historical events has been a theme of several historical talks at this conference. Maya Jasanoff chatted yesterday about her work which considers Joseph Conrad and his novels as windows into the marginal territories of the global British Empire at the turn of the 19th century. So without going too much further into all of this, I’ll press “Publish” on the blog post and put my computer away to redirect my focus on this next talk.