Converting the Jews of Cairo

On Paper

A few years ago I cam across 6 full years (1905-1910) of a mysterious magazine called “Jewish Missionary Intelligence” in the Oxfam in Cambridge. It was published by the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.

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It was the in house journal of the society that worked across the world trying to convert Jews to Christianity. The magazine was primarily intended to show the readers the good work and successes that the Christians were having among the Jews. However, the were also sympathetic to the plights of the Jews in a way not directly connected to proselytising. They spoke out against Pogroms in Eastern Europe and were very supportive of the Jewish refugees to the UK. One of the priests in 1905 contributed this poem in support of the refugees.

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Perhaps the most interesting thing is that these journals are a fascinating document of early 20th century Jewish communities…

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The Paper Architecture of Brodsky and Utkin

A Journey Through Slavic Culture

Aleksandr Brodsky and Ilya Utkin have today become known in the Russian art world for their intriguing works of architecture, ranging from everything such as a sculpture to a artistically repurposed building or shed, but what they are probably most known for are several copper plate etchings they created displaying fantastical archictectural designs, a product of their lives and experiences as architects in a time when reform was present and ideas were ever-changing. Their story and the inspiration behind the drawings is probably best said in the book written on these drawings:

“In 1957 Kruschev declared socialist realist architecture the “over-decorated” style and abolished the Academy of Architecture. the notion of a critically assimilated cultural heritage (i.e. the reuse of classical forms to serve modern ideological ends) was replaced by a doctrine of unadorned utilitarianism. modern technology, especially prefabrication, was exploited to produce the urgently needed mass housing and aesthetic…

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Liberal Cities? What Recent Elections Mean for Global Urban History

Global Urban History

By Michael Goebel, Freie Universität Berlin

The agitated politics of 2016 have led intellectuals the world over to ponder the “end of the Anglo-American order,” the “bankruptcy of the post-war world order,” and the death of “liberalism.” That this death has been diagnosed before—for instance by the late Chris Bayly in the conclusion of his magisterial study of the globalizing nineteenth century—makes today’s echoes of the past all the more eerie. But the precedent may also make historians chary of issuing premature death certificates. Urban history and global history can be combined fruitfully in thinking about past and current trends in democracy and populism.

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Open source Marxism: Free PDFs from Historical Materialism, Verso, and Jacobin

The Charnel-House

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Stumbled across an amazing database of free Marxist PDFs, the posts of which seems to be password protected but whose files are nevertheless accessible. (You can click any of the hundreds of links below to download them directly, since the post itself is locked). Even if these get taken down, as seemed to happen with the Fuck V£R$0 blog a few years ago, the cat is already out of the bag. As Novara Media pointed out following the Lawrence & Wishart copyright controversy in 2014, once published these things tend to obey the logic of the so-called “Streisand effect.” They explained that “[the] attempt to ban or censor something will tend to increase its prominence and breadth of dissemination. The instantly and near-infinitely replicable quality of digital information makes this easy.”

In their view, this is just one of “Seven Reasons ‘Radical’ Publishers are Getting OWNED by the Internet.”

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Critical (of) Reconstruction

Architecture In Berlin

See also this link to a conference on critical reconstruction and the IBA, in Porto, Portugal, 4th – 8th November: http://berlim-reconstrucaocritica.blogspot.com/.  My original post below:

‘Critical Reconstruction’. A term used to describe the policy for rebuilding post-wall Berlin. The vast areas of waste ground left by the wall zones were to be infilled, by reverting to older street patterns, and by following a set of conservative building codes which limited the height, and (in places) the style of new buildings.

In Pariser Platz, next to the Brandenburg Gate, the building rules seem to have been at their most restrictive, with every new building complying with the required style of horizontal stone banding. Frank Gehry’s Deutsche Bank HQ has had to hide his signature shiny-curvy building behind a singularly uninteresting façade. The rebuiltHotel Adlon is just an overscaled version of the original, and the recently-completed American Embassy, which…

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The Berlin IBA 1987

Architecture In Berlin

“… the greatest creations of architecture are not so much the product of individual labour, rather the product of social endeavour, they are things simply cobbled together by working people, rather than inspired inventions of the creative genius, they are the traces a nation leaves behind, the strata desposited by the centuries, the lees of successive evaporations of human society, in short they are a kind of geological formation”.

Victor Hugo

In the UK, the term postmodernism is still a dirty word; it refers to that clunky jokey-neoclassical architecture that was used to design speculative, planning-restriction-free office developments in the Thatcherite years of the 1980s.

But in Berlin at that time, postmodernism was the style of a different kind of development – carefully planned urban housing and infrastructure projects. In the UK, architects had withdrawn from designing mass housing after the disastrous social experimentation of the 1960s and 1970s. In…

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“My Appearance” — David Foster Wallace

Biblioklept

I am a woman who appeared in public on Late Night with David Letterman on March 22, 1989.

In the words of my husband, Rudy, I am a woman whose face and attitudes are known to something over half of the measurable population of the United States, whose name is on lips and covers and screens. Whose heart’s heart is invisible to the world and unapproachably hidden. Which is what Rudy thought could save me from all this appearance implied.

The week of March 19, 1989, was the week David Letterman’s variety-and-talk show featured a series of taped skits on the private activities and pastimes of executives at NBC. My husband and I sacrificed sleep and stayed up late, watching. My husband, whose name in the entertainment industry is better known than his face, had claimed at first to be neutrally excited about the call I’d gotten from Late Night

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