Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday snippets - another blog round up

Almost a month has passed since the last time I went round the blogging traps.

On, Tia Peterson has carried out hew own regular blog round-up in 27 Posts That Will Save Your (Blogging) Life. Tia has spotted some interesting material; worth a browse.

Have you ever heard of prosopography? I had not until I read the Resident Judge of Port Philip's ‘Professors of the Law: Barristers and English Legal Culture in the Eighteenth Century. I had to look it up. According to Wikipedia:

In historical studies, prosopography is an investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group, whose individual biographies may be largely untraceable, by means of a collective study of their lives, in multiple career-line analysis. Prosopographical research has the aim of learning about patterns of relationships and activities through the study of collective biography, and proceeds by collecting and analysing statistically relevant quantities of biographical data about a well-defined group of individuals. This makes it a valuable technique for studying many pre-modern societies. Prosopography is an increasingly important approach within historical research. The term is a popular one, and the concept is easily inflated.

I guess not knowing the name shows that I remain out-of-touch with academic history, probably inevitable working alone with still limited contact with academe. Still, if I don't know the name, I certainly know the approach and it can be very useful.

Most Australians, for example, know that Chinese people came to Australia with the gold rushes, fewer know that the Chinese were here before that. I looked at this in a limited way in The Chinese in New England 1848-1853.

We have very little information on individuals. However, in Indentured Chinese Labourers and Employers Identified New South Wales 1828-1856, Maxine Darnell from the School of Economic at the University of New England presented in tabular form basic information she discovered from the historical records. With this, it is possible to look at patterns that can then be extended from other material.

In Gathering Images of #Urban zones in #Sydney for a #DERNSW Project, Maximos62 talks about copyright and his DER Leading Learners research project on Urban Growth and Decline in Sydney. The post includes some photos of Sydney showing different architectural styles.

Earlier in a very interesting post, #Indonesia and #Australia: perceptions of border security from the land that’s girt by sea, Maximos 62 looked at Australia's perceptions of borders. I don't think that I have commented on it before, but it bears upon some of the things that I have been thinking about in a historical context.

This year, the end of Ramadan, 9/11 and that very silly plan by the US pastor to burn the Koran all seemed somehow jammed together. In Condemns the Koran burning plan, Tikno added his own condemnation,  concluding: "Along with this post I want to say Happy Eid Ul Fitr 1431H to all Muslims. Please forgive any of my physical and emotional wrongdoings."

Similar wishes came from Niar and Harry Nizam.

Free Range International continues to provide an on-ground perspective of the Afghanistan war. I suppose that there is a kind of gruesome fascination with some of the war material, but I actually find that the combination of stories and photos gives me a far better feeling for the nature of the war than I get from the main stream media.

Staying with the depressing, Paul Barratt had two interesting posts on Iran and Israel:

Like me, Paul has his own biases. Accepting that, his knowledge and analytical skills have often informed me: I can adjust for his particular positions. Reading the posts added to a concern already fuelled by other things, a growing feeling that response and counter response may actually spiral into another war. Political dynamics create their own momentum. Still, that's just too depressing for a reasonably bright Sunday morning.

Winton Bates also had two interesting if less depressing posts:  Is reasonable regulation compatible with democracy? and Do global problems require domestic solutions?

Like Paul, Winton and I have many common experiences, but different perspectives. For example, in Is a hung parliament a good election outcome? he bemoaned the prospect of a hung parliament whereas I thought that it was likely to be a bloody good thing! Mind you, I wouldn't necessarily want a hung parliament as the norm, but I thought that in this case it might be helpful in breaking, or at least reducing, rigidities that had crept into the Australian system.

While we do have different perspectives, we also both struggle from time to time looking at the way that Governmental systems do or might work.

Dear me. Look at the time. I will have to finish here, but will pick up Winton's issues in a later post.     


Anonymous said...

I certainly didn't hear of prosopography through academia! I'm terrified that I'm going actually have to say it out loud one day- it's one of those words that I can read but have never had to actually say. I don't know whether it's a methodology that appeals to legal scholars in particular, or whether it's just that the topics I've been following happened to have taken me there.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi RJ. It is hard to say. After reading your comment I practiced saying the bloody word multiple times!

Its not just legal scholars, but there is also a bit of a smenatic roblem. Family reconstruction as used by, say, Alan Atkinson in Camden, is exactly the same technique but much before the word was coined.