first_imgThe 1910 class notes for the all-woman Garland School of Homemaking in Boston were titled “Times Where We Need the Man.” The list of gendered chores now seems antiquarian: chop wood, sweep ashes, care for horses, and bring in coal.But one chore still sounds familiar. It reads: “wash windows (?)”That question mark, a sign of the longstanding tug-of-war over housework, survived the past century intact. But relations between American men and women have changed a great deal — and are still changing.One aspect of ever-shifting gender relations is being explored this semester at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study: space, that wide realm of interiors and exteriors that marks the social commons — that is, everything outside our bodies. How are men and women negotiating access to space? And how have those negotiations changed over time?In mid-April, Radcliffe will sponsor “Inside/Out: Exploring Gender and Space in Life, Culture, and Art,” a two-day international conference of artists, architects, researchers, legal scholars, and sociologists. It’s part of an annual series of Radcliffe spring conferences on gender that have explored war, food, and other points of intersection between the sexes.The conferences are usually accompanied by an exhibit in the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, and “Inside/Out” is no exception. “Inside/Out: The Geography of Gendered Space,” by turns grave and whimsical, is on display through October.The exhibit is in four parts, each representing a realm within space: private, public, political, and artistic. The categories are derived from feminist scholar Kerstin Shands, who sees two types of gendered spaces. “Bracing” spaces represent resistance, and “embracing” spaces imply empowerment and safety.In the “private” section of “Inside/Out,” there are documents, magazines, books, and photographs that illustrate what for centuries was regarded as a woman’s exclusive purview, the household.The 1910 class notes are there, in looping old-fashioned handwriting. So are fragile issues of 19th century magazines, with titles such as Mrs. Mayfield’s Happy Home (1877) and The Mother at Home and Household Magazine (1864).On display in the same case are passages from books that express the exclusivity — and confinement — of a woman’s household dominion. In her 1875 novel “We and Our Neighbors,” Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” offers up a passage that would make a modern-day Eliza flee across the ice to escape the slavery of gender: “Self begins to melt away into something lighter,” she wrote of women kept inside by social norms. “Her home is the new personification of herself.” A passage from “Art in the Home” (1879) goes further, by modern standards, declaring that a woman “should be herself the noblest ornament of her ornamental dwelling.”For 19th century women who were uncomfortable being ornaments, there was travel, or even living alone in cities, a set of spaces explored in the exhibit’s “public” section. In cities, women could take on nontraditional roles, said the exhibit notes. Lynn, Mass., entrepreneur Lydia E. Pinkham (1819-1883) did well, turning her home remedy for “female maladies” into the most popular patent medicine of the age.But urban spaces were also segregated by gender. An engraving from the July 21, 1875, Illustrated London News pictures a “ladies” window at a New York post office. “I just love the image of going to a post office and having their window be for me,” said Schlesinger executive director Marilyn Dunn, with a laugh. “It captures the idea of gendered space.”In the same display case is a note on the Women’s Hotel in New York City, which opened in 1878, offering a week’s board and lodging for $6. The Barbizon, a more contemporary women-only hotel, was profiled in a 1963 issue of the New York Evening Post. The headline was “Where the Boys Are Not.”Where the boys are not is also a theme in the “artistic” section of the “Inside/Out” exhibit. There’s a photo of Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, co-founders of the California Institute of the Arts Feminist Art Program, at “Womenhouse.” The 1971 art installation, set up in a deserted Hollywood mansion, featured the work of only women, and men were banned from the opening.But the same section in the exhibit shows that the art world was often where the boys were and the women were not. On display is a 1985 banner from the Guerilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminist artists formed to protest a Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art show. Of the 169 artists represented, they complained, only 13 were women.The banner, a spoof on an odalisque-like nude, also claimed that while 5 percent of the artists were women, 85 percent of the nudes were. “Do women have to be naked,” the banner asked, “to get into the Met. Museum?”“Inside/Out” offers a glimpse at the feminist pioneers of the art world, including sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908), who was born in Watertown, Mass. She sculpted “The Sleeping Faun,” a male figure whose softened musculature rewrote the standards of masculine display. Hosmer’s plaster model of “Queen Isabella of Castile” — monumental and imperial — was intended to show that the queen was the equal of explorer Christopher Columbus, whose iconic journey she helped to sponsor.The sculptor “was very much interested in female heroism,” said Schlesinger operations manager Bruce Williams, who co-chaired the exhibit committee.An 1861 photograph shows Hosmer — elfin, pugnacious, and defiant — in the center of a group of rough male artisans in Italy. On the back, the inscription reads, “Hosmer and Her Men.”Then there is that sphere that is more familiar — or at least more dramatic — than the others: “political” space. This section looks at “sites of resistance,” said Williams, including the parades, protests, sit-ins, and other events that demanded expanded access for women in social and physical spaces.Protest is on display, in the video touch-screen portion of “Inside/Out,” including black-and-white footage from a stormy 1970 takeover of the New York offices of Ladies’ Home Journal by feminists. The magazine’s editorial policy, they said, kept women in the confining grooves of “children, kitchen, and church.”One joyful photograph, a line of women at the front of a protest march, is from the opening of the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston. Prominent in the picture are Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” and Bella Abzug, a New York lawyer, activist, and congresswoman. Abzug is famous for her defiant pun: “This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives.”“Inside/Out: Exploring Gender and Space in Life, Culture, and Art” will be held April 15-16, Radcliffe Gymnasium, 10 Garden St. Free and open to the public, registration is required. Deadline to register is April 5.Also in conjunction with “Inside/Out,” the Harvard University Graduate School of Design presents the exhibition “Inhabit” by independent artist and “Inside/Out” conference panelist Janine Antoni. “Inhabit” will be on display from March 22 to April 16 in Gund Hall, 48 Quincy St., Cambridge, Mass.last_img read more

An opponent who prevailed

first_imgOn Saturday night a slight woman of enormous international stature let a Harvard audience in on a perk of her position: When she is asked to give a speech, the leader of Myanmar said, her staff provides her with talking points. Even better, for her lecture as the Harvard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year, Harvard provided her with a topic.“[Foundation director S. Allen Counter] told me I should speak on intercultural, interethnic, and interreligious cooperation,” Aung San Suu Kyi said to the laughter of the overflow crowd. “So I thought this is the right moment for me to talk about intercultural, interethnic, interreligious, international peace.”The winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi became an international symbol of nonviolent protest shortly after leaving her husband, British historian Michael Aris, and young sons in England to care for her sick mother back in Myanmar. There she helped form the National League for Democracy (NLD), drawing the angry attention of the military government. She was placed under house arrest in 1989 and would remain a political prisoner for 21 years before her release late in 2010.Although she was given permission to leave Burma if she agreed never to return, Aung San Suu Kyi instead remained as a symbol for her countrymen. “Aung San Suu Kyi became the face of resolution to remind people that we are allowed to fight for more than we are given,” said Harvard Foundation intern Jasmine Chia ’18.After her return to public life, Aung San Suu Kyi became president of the NLD and was named to parliament in 2012, becoming her country’s first female minister of foreign affairs and minister to the president’s office. Her current title, state counselor of Myanmar, is equivalent to prime minister.Counter said Aung San Suu Kyi was chosen for the award because “We try to select a person whose principles are consonant with the vision and the philosophy of the Harvard Foundation. She is most decisively that. Her struggle against hatred, her idea of reconciliation, which is very much in the tradition of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu — all of those things made her our choice this year.”In accepting the award, Aung San Suu Kyi said, “I look upon this prize not as a reward for what I have done, but as a happy omen for what we are trying to achieve in the future. We can have freedom and security in the right proportion. In my country, there is still a long way to go before I can say that our people are both free and secure.”Aung San Suu Kyi (left) poses in a Harvard sweatshirt with Devontae Freeland ’19, Harvard Foundation intern, and Dr. S Allen Counter Jr., director of the Harvard Foundation and member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Justin ZiebellHer speech circled back to the goal of reconciliation, especially with the minority Muslim Rakhine state within Myanmar, on whose behalf students quietly protested outside the Science Center. Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies Diana Eck, who worked with Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband in the years he was at Harvard (“Though there was no question that his mind was also, was mostly, in Myanmar”), pointed out that Aung San Suu Kyi had also protested when it was forbidden. “No one would be more appreciative of the students standing outside for the people of Rohingya,” Eck said.Indeed, said Aung San Suu Kyi, “What we want is not domination but reconciliation.” She has established a commission chaired by former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan to look at the issues in Rakhine, and she and Annan’s successor, Ban-ki Moon, agreed at a meeting in Myanmar on Aug. 30 to work toward the Rohingya’s peaceful coexistence with their neighbors.“I am proud of the diversity of my country, but we have not been able to turn it into a peaceful union” of Myanmar’s 135 ethnic groups, Aung San Suu Kyi said. “I believe fear is at the root of all divisions, because fear leads to hatred. We have to get rid of the fear if we are to get rid of the hatred. If we do not get rid of the hatred, we will not be able to have peace in any country.“But why do we fear and why do we want others to fear us? Those who want others to fear them should be ashamed of themselves,” she said. “We have to eradicate the roots of fear. How? If I had the answer, my country would have been at peace many years back. But believing that everybody has a core of goodness that can be mined is a start.She also marveled at some aspects of American society. “When I look around the United States, you are a very, very wealthy country. Why do you want to get richer? What is this drive? Why? How many meals can you eat in a day? Always the drive for more possessions — is it about security? Proving you are better than others? If you could find the answer, it would help us improve relations between human beings.“I do believe in human beings,” she concluded. “The fact that we are not in caves clubbing each other proves that we are improving. So let’s all put our heads together and find the answers because I am not capable of doing so in one short speech.”Harvard students and faculty during and after the lecture took the opportunity to honor Aung San Suu Kyi with tributes that ranged from a musical performance by Lynn Chang ’75 on violin and Reyloun Yount ’16 on the yangqin, to a delicate framed portrait presented by a Burmese artist in the audience at the end of her speech, to the Harvard sweatshirt given at the awards dinner by Harvard Foundation intern Devontae Freeland ’19.Perhaps the most moving was a personal appreciation given by Tout Tun Lin ’19 at the awards dinner following the lecture. Lin spoke about growing up in Myanmar under the close eyes of parents who feared his arrest, seeing the freedoms enjoyed by teenagers of other countries in scenes from foreign films, and watching more of his friends disappear each year as professionals fled the country.“But Aung San Suu Kyi — she stayed. She stayed despite what the party put her through. She stayed,” he said. “And she showed us, the younger generation, that Myanmar’s soul was not dead.”last_img read more

Probing the Black Death for lead pollution insights

first_imgWhen the Black Death swept across Europe in the 14th century, it not only killed millions, it also brought lead smelting, among many other commercial activities, to a halt.That cessation is reflected in a new analysis of historical and ice core data, which researchers say provides evidence that the natural level of lead in the air is essentially zero, contrary to common assumptions.“These new data show that human activity has polluted European air almost uninterruptedly for the last [about] 2,000 years,” the study’s authors say. “Only a devastating collapse in population and economic activity caused by pandemic disease reduced atmospheric pollution to what can now more accurately be termed background or natural levels.”The work, an interdisciplinary collaboration led by historians and climate scientists at the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard University and the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, matched new high-resolution measurements of ice core lead taken from a glacier in the Swiss-Italian Alps with highly detailed historical records showing that lead mining and smelting plummeted to nearly zero during the plague years of 1349 to 1353.The study, which also involved collaborators from Heidelberg University and the University of Nottingham, shows that lead levels declined precipitously in a section of the ice core corresponding to that four-year window, a drop unique in the past two millennia of European history, according to Alexander More, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s History Department and the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past. More is first author of the research paper, to be published this week in the American Geophysical Union journal GeoHealth. The authors challenge assumptions that widespread environmental pollution began with the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s and 1800s, and that lead detected before that era represents natural or background levels. The new research shows that lead from mining and smelting — which has occurred for thousands of years — was detectable well before the Industrial Revolution, and that only when those activities were essentially halted by the plague did lead pollution decline to natural levels.“When we saw the extent of the decline in lead levels, and only saw it once, during the years of the pandemic, we were intrigued,” More said. “In different parts of Europe, the Black Death wiped out as much as half of the population. It radically changed society in multiple ways. In terms of the labor force, the mining of lead essentially stopped in major areas of production. You see this reflected in the ice core in a large drop in atmospheric lead levels, and you see it in historical records for an extended period of time.”The research, backed by the Arcadia Fund of London, the W.M. Keck Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, was enabled in part by the development of a cutting-edge laser facility to analyze ultrathin layers of ice. Designed and operated at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, the facility can analyze layers thin enough to coincide with sub-annual time periods, even in highly compressed ice. Institute researchers Nicole Spaulding and Pascal Bohleber, among other co-authors, produced and analyzed millions of data points from the ice core.“This research represents the convergence of two very different disciplines, history and ice core glaciology, that together provide the perspective needed to understand how a toxic substance like lead has varied in the atmosphere and, more importantly, to understand that the true natural level is in fact very close to zero,” said Paul Mayewski, a co-author of the new study and director of the Climate Change Institute. “Using the ultrahigh resolution ice core sampling offered through our W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility, we expect to be able to offer new insights, previously unattainable with lower-resolution sampling, into the links between climate change and the course of civilization.”The researchers focused on lead not only because it is a hazardous pollutant, More said, but also because it serves as a proxy for economic activity, ramping up when the economy is growing and tapering when it declines.“Lead is one of the most dangerous pollutants in the air, and one we’ve mined for a very, very long time,” he said. “It was ubiquitous in the preindustrial world, widely used in construction, pipes, currency, and everyday utensils.”Michael McCormick, Harvard’s Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History and chair of the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, and Christopher Loveluck of the University of Nottingham, a former visiting professor at Harvard, also contributed to the research, providing archaeological and historical expertise. McCormick said that undergraduates played a role in the work by building a database of historical climate records.The research highlighted other, lesser drops in ice core lead accumulation, including one in 1460 that also may have been due to an epidemic-related downturn, and another in the 1970s as abatement policies phased out leaded gasoline and other sources of air pollution.Philip Landrigan, dean of global health for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who has studied the epidemiology of lead poisoning in children, said that the work highlights today’s good news-bad news situation regarding environmental lead.While widespread contamination due to leaded gasoline, lead paint, lead solder, and other common modern-era applications has been curbed by government regulation, the recent crisis of tainted water in Flint, Mich., shows that lead continues to poison children in America and elsewhere. One recent estimate, said Landrigan, who did not participate in the new findings, holds that some 535,000 American children under age 6 have elevated blood lead levels. Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that no level of lead can be considered safe for children.“Lead is toxic to the brain at extremely low levels,” said Landrigan, who, while working with the CDC in the 1970s, investigated lead poisoning in children near a Texas lead smelting plant. “It’s clear that lead has lasting effects on children’s lives.”More said the ice core, taken by a team with members from the University of Maine, University of Heidelberg, and University of Bern from the Colle Gnifetti glacier high in the Alps, remains rich with data, accessible due to the precision of the Climate Change Institute’s next-generation laser facility. Combining that data with historical sources and established methodologies, More said, could lead to new discoveries in climate science, human and planetary health, and economic history. Where lead lurks Scientist’s website a warning system for toxic water Relatedlast_img read more