“The couple started researching the history of South Asian activism in the United States and were surprised to find so many people and movements in Berkeley. They unearthed the story of 16 Indian students at UC Berkeley in 1908, protesting a lecturer defending British imperialism. They learned about Kartar Singh Sarabha, who moved to Berkeley as a 15-year-old in 1912 and was sentenced to death by a British judge three years later for his work in helping plan an uprising against the British with the Ghadar Party. The result is a tour that pays almost equal attention to stories of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Indian stories of resistance from the early 1900s to the present.”
South Asian stories from Californian streets. [The Hindu]
By way of mehreenkasana, thank you for sharing this with with us.
There are many projects that emulate this because it’s recognized that stories won’t be written unless they’re uncovered and shared. The OC Weekly is doing it’s own form of this with Gustavo Arellano whose explicit goal is uncover the history that isn’t on plaques at community center’s named after the racists of yesteryear.
I will definitely take the Berkeley tour in the coming months.
‘Mr President, I feel I have blood on my hands’
Reasonable men can dream monstrous dreams. It is the lesson of the 20th century: a lesson articulated from various perspectives since Adorno and Horkheimer wrote Dialectic of Enlightenment amid the wreckage of World War Two. Defenders of the Enlightenment can cogently argue (and many have) that Nazi science was a grotesque caricature, that the Holocaust was a betrayal of the Enlightenment rather than a fulfilment of its fatal dialectic. But it is harder to make that case with respect to the development of nuclear weapons. Indeed the subject seems designed to lay bare the contradictions at the core of Enlightenment culture by revealing them at work in the subculture of professional physicists bent to the needs of government power. Few social laboratories could more clearly reveal the tensions between chauvinist impulses and humanist aspirations, or between careerist plotting and disinterested service, or – perhaps most important – between the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual openness and the demands for secrecy made by the national security state.
The history of nuclear weapons began in an atmosphere of creative ferment and international trade in ideas. This was the world of Knaben3physik
(‘boy physics’) in the 1920s and 1930s, when young men who had not been shaving for more than a few years were excitedly reading one another’s papers and poring over the results of experiments in Cambridge, Göttingen, Copenhagen and (eventually) Berkeley. This was how Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and others created the foundations of quantum physics. Yet within less than a decade this moment had passed. Olympian conversations were drowned out by fascist chants. Jewish physicists, led by Einstein, fled to America; Heisenberg stayed in Germany; Bohr stayed out of sight in occupied Denmark. The concentration of research effort shifted westwards across the Atlantic. But it was research with a new, pragmatic mission: to build an atomic bomb before Hitler did. Theories conceived in open exchange were harnessed to secret purposes, and illuminating ideas were pressed into the service of mass death. No wonder some of the atomic scientists felt remorse, or at least ambivalence, about their achievement; no wonder some began to glimpse the darker dimensions of Enlightenment when the blinding flash of the first atomic explosion revealed their labours had not been in vain
Oh God, what have we done? by Jackson Lears [London Review of Books]
The campus I currently study at has a street named after J. Robert Oppenheimer,
Granted that alongside Ernest Orlando Lawrence he built the damn American school of physics on this campus, but I’ve always found it incredibly fascinating given the conflict presented in the text above.
I also love Hans Bethe’s quote that Oppenheimer ‘worked at physics mainly because he found physics the best way to do philosophy.’ And I think that many on this campus, and elsewhere, still believe this to be true of themselves because of figures like J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Although Philosophy of Physics is still pretty cool.
“There comes a time during RRR Week when every student finds himself or herself in a moral quandary: To study or, perchance, to browse GIFs on Tumblr for three hours?”