History Cafe Shot – What do we mean by Violence in history?

This month on the History Cafe, we’re trying something new.  This isTurkish Coffee 4 - Tulip Cafe Brattleboro a relatively short podcast (10 minutes) that asks a question with a handful of examples.  It is in no way exhaustive, but hopefully sparks a fair amount of thought.  It is also an example (to me, anyway) of how history often plays out in its roll as an explainer of the world today.  The podcast is about historical violence – I ask the question: how do we argue that a certain ideology, religion, or group is violent?

We often describe ideologies or groups as “violent” and by this we mean more violent than we are (or our ideologies are).  But such a designation relies implicitly and sometimes explicitly on a set of historical factors that we use as comparison points to make such a judgement.  In the contemporary US, Islam is the chief example of a potentially “violent ideology,” but thirty years ago Communism (and its godlessness) would have been the chief suspect.  I give a number of examples and mention their history, but nothing is complete or even remotely thorough.  I would encourage you to do any background reading you think would be interesting in this regard and hopefully this will spark lots of conversations.

Since it’s a short podcast, there’s only time to have your good shot of espresso (and perhaps a biscotti as I mention in the podcast).  But if you haven’t made your own biscotti, I definitely recommend it.  Here’s a recipe for a nutty version I find delicious.

3 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond, walnut or pistachio oil (depending on desired flavor)
2 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 tsp. each almond extract and vanilla extract
1 C nuts (again, Pistachios or Almonds would be my preference

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Then blend in the eggs, oil, butter and extracts and kneed it to create a smooth dough.  (You can also mix it all in a mixer with a dough hook until well combined)

Divide the batter into two equal portions and create a log about 6 inches wide and no more than 2 inches thick (one inch is plenty).  Each log will probably be  a little over a foot long.

Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes (until firm and light brown.)  Then remove and set on a rack until cool enough to touch.  Slice the loaf diagonally (around 1/2 inch slices) to create the biscotti shaped pieces.  Return to the oven at around 300 degrees and brown on both sides (another 10-15 minutes.)  Remove and allow to cool completely.

And obviously, dip in your coffee.

I don’t have particular bibliography for the shot – there are too many books about any of the examples I give to recommend a particular.  If you want a suggestion on a particular topic, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an e-mail.


2 thoughts on “History Cafe Shot – What do we mean by Violence in history?”

  1. Really miss this input from Marlboro! Currently reading on education theory where immigrants from Mexico are being placated for crimes in the drug war and in random misdemeanors throughout the states- according to the state of Arizona, this necessarily justifies English-only language immersion without regards to the cultural import of the Spanish language in the lives of these immigrants. I.E. because Arizona considers Mexicans “violent,” the immigrants’ cultural background is not given credence by the state itself.

  2. Hey Brett,
    Thanks for the comment. I thought about immigrants and the labelling of specific nationalities after I finished, but obviously it’s not in the list as it stands. You’re totally right, though – immigrant is also a frequently labelled “violent” category. It’s usually backed by some form of crime statistics, but I tend to see those a probably connected more to poverty than to the group per se. Although drug production and cartels certainly generate very real violence (and one with a lot of debate about causes, sources, etc.)

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