Category Archives: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Event Debrief: “Manuscript Fragmentation Across Cultures”

This post was authored by Matthew Hayes, Librarian for Japanese Studies and Asian American Studies.

On September 9, 2022, Duke faculty, librarians, archivists, graduate students, and affiliates from the Manuscript Migration Lab gathered in the Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall at Smith Warehouse to discuss how incorporating cultural diversity can broaden humanities research in general and, in particular, the young and interdisciplinary field of “fragmentology.”

The disassembly of manuscripts into fragments is something that happens over time, whether by accident or design. Despite the fact that fragmentation occurs in every textual culture, however, scholars who study medieval manuscripts have tended to ignore the contextual and cultural diversity of fragments. As a result, their primary sources (and objects of discussion) have often been only manuscripts from medieval Europe, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. This symposium was an attempt to broaden our perception of the term “fragmentology” to include these often-ignored cross-cultural realities.

To this end, symposium attendees were asked to consider several guiding questions: Can we apply the term “fragmentology” equally to textual cultures well beyond medieval Europe? How might we define the production, use, and value of manuscript fragments in cultural contexts that may have very different considerations in the production, use, and valuation of texts as objects? And what broad conclusions can we draw from these comparisons with regard to the role of fragmentary manuscripts in Europe and parts of East Asia? Each of the three invited speakers sought to answer these questions from their own regional perspective.

Dr. Christopher Nugent, Professor of Chinese at Williams College, was the first speaker and focused on the example of the literary anthology titled Repository of Rabbit Garden Questions (Tuyuan cefu 兔園冊府). The content of this anthology is delivered in a question-and-answer-style model and annotations added later were meant to prepare individuals for civil service examinations. Yet, among those manuscripts unearthed at Dunhuang, they only contain the first fascicle of this anthology. Dr. Nugent highlighted the tension between, on the one hand, textual contraction by way of fragmentation and, on the other, textual expansion by way of annotation, and enumerated several issues that remained in conversation throughout the afternoon: Why were fragments important to premodern communities that engaged with them? What does the fragmentation of manuscripts tell us about their reception and reuse over time?

Dr. Nugent referring to one of the cave interiors at Dunhuang. Photo by the author.

Dr. Nugent’s discussion concluded with further provocations surrounding heritage and repatriation by focusing on the figure of the French Sinologist Paul Pelliot (pictured below), known for having helped to excavate the “Library Caves” at Dunhuang and for removing large caches of texts that are now housed in museums and libraries around the world. Considering the fact that premodern Dunhuang was a multiethnic region historically occupied by not only Chinese, but also Mongol, Tibetan, and Uyghur peoples, among many other groups, Dr. Nugent asked: To whom do we repatriate these fragments? How do we mediate between modern territorialities and the multiethnic realities of premodern eras?

Paul Pelliot at work in the “Library Caves” at Dunhuang. Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. Lisa Fagin Davis, paleographer, codicologist, and Professor of Manuscript Studies at Simmons College, was the second speaker and explored some of the common criteria for fragmentation in medieval European contexts, with a focus on the status of collections within the United States. With regard to common criteria, Dr. Davis gave an overview of the practice of fragmentation in the context of loose leaves and ornamental cutting, but also of in situ fragmentary reuse, such as in new bindings and paste-downs. In all of these cases, we can observe sets of social practices that differed markedly from those explored by Dr. Nugent.

Dr. Davis covering some examples of in situ uses of fragments. Photo by the author.

Like Dr. Nugent’s discussion of the exploits of Paul Pelliot, Dr. Davis also focused on an infamous figure in the world of “book-breaking” named Otto Ege. Ege spent several decades of the 20th century disassembling the pages of dozens of medieval illuminated manuscripts, which he reassembled into “portfolios” according to his own loose themes; two of these are held by Duke Libraries (see below) and Dr. Davis referred to both during her talk. As Dr. Davis described, Ege has been a major influence on the current state of fragmented manuscripts in the United States and worldwide; he has produced “portfolios” of unidentifiable provenance under disjointed themes and has misidentified or misdated dozens of the fragments therein. One positive outgrowth of Ege work, however, has been recent initiatives to digitally reassemble the leaves from the Ege “portfolios.”

Cover of Ege’s “Fifteen original Oriental manuscript leaves of six centuries : twelve of the Middle East, two of Russia and one of Tibet : from the collection of and with notes,” Rubenstein Library, Duke University. Photo by the author.
Prayer scroll leaf fragment (Tibet) from Ege’s “Fifteen Original Oriental Manuscripts.” Photo by the author.

The final speaker of the symposium was Dr. Akiko Walley, Maude I. Kerns Associate Professor of Japanese Art at the University of Oregon. Dr. Walley’s talk focused on the production and use of sets of sutra fragments (kyо̄gire 経切) and “mirrors of hands” or calligraphic fragments (tekagami 手鏡) in early modern Japan. Dr. Walley introduced these genres by first exploring the phenomenon of statuary and architectural fragmentation. As she described, whether in the case of the broken-off heads of Buddha statues or broken rooftiles, the fragmented pieces are representative of the larger whole. Art historians can study these fragments as a means of learning about the whole, but even Buddhist devotees will ontologically value the head of the Buddha just the same as they would the entire statue.

Dr. Walley opening her talk with reference to statuary fragments and restoration practices. Photo by the author.

Kyо̄gire and tekagami functioned similarly insofar as they are fragmentary, but were also valued as a representation of the complete source from which they derived; kyо̄gire represent the entire sutra and, ultimately, every word spoken by the Buddha, while tekagami represent the calligrapher’s entire corpus of written work. These fragments were assembled into albums and other ornamental collections and were often displayed as an object of appreciation beginning in the Edo period (1603-1868). In this way, Dr. Walley introduced us to yet another type of social practice surrounding fragments, which differed from the cases of China and Europe.

Dr. Walley presents an image of a burned fragment of the Daihōkō butsu kegonkyō 大方廣佛華嚴經 (Skt: Avataṃsaka sūtra). Photo by the author.

During the Q&A portion of the event, symposium attendees picked up on several threads from the speakers’ talks, especially about the role of technology in the reassembly of fragments, imperatives to repatriate manuscript fragments, instances of talismanic or religious uses of fragments, methodological approaches to Quranic manuscript fragments, and other varieties of social practices surrounding the use of fragments. The event concluded with a group-wide acknowledgment that events like this one, which appears to have been the first of its kind among the young subfield of fragmentology, is only the beginning of a much more comprehensive dialogue surrounding the effectiveness of the term “fragmentology,” what is meant (and not meant) by the term “fragment,” and how cross-cultural considerations can help us to better understand these issues in the context of textual studies, librarianship, and archival and museum practices.

Two opposing leaves from Apidamo dapiposha lun” (“Great Exegesis of Abhidharma,” Rubenstein Library, Duke University). This is another example of Buddhist fragments and does not derive from Ege’s “portfolio.” Photo by the author.

The “Manuscript Fragmentations Across Cultures” symposium was  sponsored by the Manuscript Migration Lab and the Franklin Humanities Institute. For questions about this symposium, please contact its co-organizers, Matthew Hayes (Librarian for Japanese Studies and Asian American Studies) and Clare Woods (Associate Professor of Classical Studies).

Lilly Collection Spotlight: Library Things for Your Curiosity Voyage

Library Things –
Embark on Your Curiosity Voyage

Films, Books, and Music of the 1980s in the Libraries’ Collections

Do you know that the creators of Stranger Things are from Durham, North Carolina?
The supernatural series may be set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, but creators Matt and Ross Duffer grew up in Durham. Although the identical twins grew up in the 90s, the series is awash with popular culture references from the 1980s. They lived in Durham County and attended the Duke School for elementary and middle school, graduating from Jordan High School. The Duffer brothers later attended Chapman University in California where they studied film and media arts.

Enjoy the ambience of Hawkins – we mean Durham – and immerse yourself in the 1980s. Discover movies, books, comics, and music of the era in our Duke Libraries’ collections.

Films of the 1980s

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Spain) DVD 30088

To give a sense of the world beyond Hawkins/Durham, we’ve highlighted international films from the same period including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Spain), Police Story (Hong Kong), Cinema Paradiso (Italy), and My Neighbor Totoro (Japan).

Films that the Hellfire gang watched include popular titles like Ghostbusters and E.T. – and, yes, those are in our film collection.

Visit the Library Things Collection Spotlight  in our lobby to browse these films*  – and more (the full list is here) –  that we’ve selected from our film collection.

Note: The list incudes some titles which  you can stream via your Duke NetID.

Music of the 1980s

LL Cool J’s Radio (1985)

Heavy Metal, Punk, Rock, Electronic, Pop, Rap – the 1980s are calling! Songs and artists featured in the show are seeing a resurgence of interest and gaining new audiences. If you wonder why “old” music such as Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill (1985), Metallica’s Master of Puppets (1986), and the Clash have been at the top of playlists, you can thank Stranger Things. The 1980s also saw the rise of Rap as a musical force with the emergence of iconic performers such as LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash, and Run D.M.C.

The Duke Music Library has a collection of CDs embracing all musical genres including rock, folk and rap. Don’t want to immerse yourself in the 1980s  with a boombox or other older formats?  Your Duke NetID  provides access to streaming music platforms.  Interested in the same sort of 1980s  (and more recent) music of Stranger Things?  Alexander Street Music database can lead you directly to genres of popular music.

Books of the 1980s

Stephen King’s It

While film, music, and the rise of gaming of the 1980s populate the atmosphere of Stranger Things, books about – and of – the period illuminate popular culture.  A selection of suspense and fantasy novels by writers such as Stephen King, graphic novels (which evolved from comic books), and books examining contemporary culture are available in the Lilly Library lobby.  Peruse these highlighted titles, plus a few eBooks in our Lilly Collection Spotlight Reading List.

To quote  Stranger Things‘ character  Dustin:
… I am on a curiosity voyage, and I need my paddles to travel. These books… these books are my paddles…

Our Duke Libraries and your Duke NetID  provide “paddles” that encompass books, film, music, and a breadth of online resources.  Explore Duke Libraries’ “library things” and embark on your own curiosity voyage!

 

A course to change the face of philosophy

Philosophy is a discipline whose historical canon is dominated by European males (despite active and influential contributions of women in the field’s formation) and that typically attracts fewer women to its college classrooms. Want to change the face of philosophy?

This fall, Duke undergraduate students can contribute to a global initiative to reform philosophy while learning about and taking part in open scholarly publishing. Project Vox, a collaboration between Duke University Libraries and the Department of Philosophy, is the basis for a new tutorial course, ISS 395T. In this course students will learn and apply skills in researching primary and secondary sources and images and in writing for Project Vox’s audience — teachers, students, scholars, and interested members of the public.

The two graduate instructors leading this course, Dana Hogan and Yasemin Altun, are alums of the Project Vox team. Their recent posts to its “Behind the Scenes” blog series offer insight into the skills and experience they’ve acquired as well as the kinds of work students will do in this course:

This tutorial course is hosted through the Information Science + Studies program and supported by an award from Bass Connections. To learn more about the course and to enroll, contact projectvox@duke.edu. Drop / Add for Duke undergraduates ends September 9.

Exciting Times for Duke’s Latin American, Iberian, and Latinx Studies Collections

This month witnessed two exciting developments in Latin American Studies at Duke University.

On August 4, 2022, Duke University Libraries welcomed Diego A. Godoy, the new Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latinx Studies.

A native Angeleno of Mexican parentage, Diego comes to Duke from the University of Texas at Austin’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, one of the premier libraries in the world for Latin America and Latina/o Studies. During his time at UT Austin, Diego played a pivotal role in initiatives to develop the Benson Collection’s digital holdings, while pursuing his Ph.D. in history.  His dissertation explored the influence of Lombrosian criminal anthropology and Freudian psychoanalysis on the life and thought of Alfonso Quiroz Cuarón, a mid-twentieth-century Mexican criminologist (“an amalgam of Freud and J. Edgar Hoover”), who was responsible for championing penitentiary reform, tracking down international counterfeiters, and discovering the true identity of Leon Trotsky’s killer.  Diego is author, most recently, of the article “Inside the Agrasánchez Collection of Mexican Cinema,” which appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Portal.

As his previous experience and research suggests, Diego is broadly interested in Latin American intellectual and cultural history, particularly journalism, media, and film, as well as the role that cultural heritage institutions (museums, archives, and libraries) play in commemoration.  He is looking forward to working with faculty and students affiliated with Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies as well as across the various departments (Romance Studies, History, etc.) that offer courses on this vibrant region of the world. Diego’s office is located on the second floor of Bostock Library, in the Department of International & Area Studies, and he can be reached at diego.godoy@duke.edu.

Diego’s arrival coincides with an announcement about the funding that the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies has been awarded for the next four years by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program. In addition to graduate and undergraduate language fellowships (FLAS awards), language instruction, lectures, conferences, films, teacher training, and other programs, this money will provide additional support for expanding the Latin American, Iberian, and Latinx Studies collections of both libraries.

Together, these two developments augur well for the future of Latin American and Caribbean studies at Duke University, an institution that prides itself on having a library collection that matches its century-long history.  If you are interested in reading more about the history of this collection, and the collaboration that went into building it, please consult the article co-authored by Dr. Holly Ackerman (Diego’s immediate predecessor as Duke’s Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latinx Studies) and Teresa Chapa (Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies Librarian at UNC-Chapel Hill), “Promoting and Maintaining Collaborative Collecting: A Case Study,” in Latin American Collection Concepts: Essays on Libraries, Collaborations and New Approaches (2019), 99-119.

A New Addition to Duke’s Uyghur-Language Collection

This post was co-authored by Sean Swanick, Librarian for Middle East, North Africa, and Islamic Studies, Luo Zhou, Chinese Studies Librarian, and Ernest Zitser, Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies.

Many people in the West have heard about the sad fate of the Uyghurs, the Turkic-Muslim minority group that is being systematically persecuted by the Communist government of the People’s Republic of China. However, very few people know the backstory of this slowly unfolding genocide. And fewer still have access to relevant research materials, especially ones published in Uyghur (ئۇيغۇرچە‎), a Turkic language written primarily in a Perso-Arabic script (though Cyrillic and Latin scripts are also used by Uyghurs who reside in the countries of former Soviet Central Asia).

“Map of the Western and Southern Parts of Kashgariia” from B. L. Grondchevskii, Otchet o poezdke v Kashgar i iuzhnuiu Kashgariiu … (Margilan [Uzbekistan], 1888). Source: Gunnar Jarring Central Eurasia Collection, Swedish Research Institute.

The reason for this information gap is the colonialist past of the area of the world inhabited by the Uyghurs, who live on territories that stretch across the boundaries of different countries, primarily along the ancient Silk Road leading from China to Central Asia, and then heading west to the Middle East and Europe, and south to India and South Asia. For millennia, this region has been the epicenter of a global struggle between different colonial empires (most recently Russia/USSR, Britain, and China).  And the Uyghurs have been among their primary victims.  Since it is the victors who tend to write history, and to do so in their own language, it is not surprising that works in Uyghur are rarely represented in the library collections of imperial metropoles.

In order to redress this imbalance, and to contribute to the global effort to de-colonize the library collections of former (and current) imperial powers, the librarians of Duke’s International and Area Studies Department have been collaborating on acquiring materials about this part of the world in general, and the Uyghurs in particular.  This blog post is about one recent example of such cross-regional collaboration: the joint purchase of a rare*, early 20th-century Uyghur language book by Luo Zhou, Chinese Studies Librarian and Sean Swanick, Librarian for Middle East, North Africa, and Islamic studies.

Title page and colophon of A Sequel to the ABC Books. Second Part (Kashgar: S. M. F. [Printing Office of the Swedish Mission], 1922). Source: Duke University Libraries. Photo by Johnny Shanahan.

This new library acquisition is a 111-page Uyghur-language manual called A Sequel to the ABC Books (ا ب کتسبى نينک تدريچى ايكنجى جز / a-b kita:bïnïղ tεdri:ʤi ikinʤi ʤůzε). It was published in 1922 by the Printing Office of the Swedish Mission in Kashgar, a city situated in what is today known as China’s Xianjiang Province.  As the title page indicates, the book is the “Second Part” of a primer first published in 1920 by the Missionary Press, which operated between 1901 and 1938.  As one would expect, the main focus of the Missionary Press was to disseminate translations of the Bible in an effort to convert Kashgaris and, more broadly, all the people of the region (including the Uyghurs) to Christianity. In order to accomplish this task, the Missionary Board in Stockholm sent a printing press and related printing equipment to Kashgar soon after the Swedes arrived in town, in 1894. The print shop contained the necessary equipment along with metal-type in Arabic, Cyrillic, and Latin.

“The City of Kashgar,” 1915. Source: Lt. Col. Sir Percy Sykes photograph album, Duke University Libraries.

Although the Swedish Missionary Press was the first printing press in Kashgar, A Sequel to the ABC Books was itself part of a long tradition of Turkic-language instruction in the region.  In fact, one of the earliest such manuals, a comprehensive dictionary of the Turkic languages known as Compendium of the Languages of the Turks (Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk), was written as far back as the 11th century by Mahmud ibn Husayn ibn Muhammed al-Kashgari, an influential Kara-Khanid scholar and lexicographer from Kashgar.  As in other parts of the Muslim world, most instruction was conducted on a one-on-one basis, between a religious teacher and a cohort of young pupils, such as those pictured in this black-and-white photograph of a “Kashgar School.”

“A Kashgar School,” 1915. Source: Lt. Col. Sir Percy Sykes photograph album, Duke University Libraries.

This photograph comes from the early 20th-century album of Lt. Col. Sir Percy Sykes (1867-1945), illustrating the British officer’s travels through “Chinese Turkestan, the Russian Pamirs, and Osh,” between April and November 1915.  Sykes’ photo album was acquired last year by Duke University Libraries to complement its growing collection of Uyghur materials, including a few language manuals. Now Sykes’ photos of the city of Kashgar and its school serve as a primary source for understanding the historical context, and for visualizing the possible original users of the recently purchased copy of A Sequel to the ABC Books. Such cross-referencing is not only the product of thoughtful collection development and description.  It is also a concrete example of the way that the intervention of area studies librarians can help contemporary researchers read the imperial archive against the grain and, thereby, restore the humanity of marginalized indigenous groups who have been, or like the Uyghurs, are in danger of being erased from the historical record.

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*As far as we know, the only other existing copy of A Sequel to the ABC Books is held in the Gunnar Jarring Central Eurasia Collection and has been digitized by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, Turkey.

Further readings:

 

Greetings from Egypt! أهلاً في مصر

International and Area Studies at Duke University Libraries

Greetings from Egypt! أهلاً في مصر

Egypt, known in Arabic by its sobriquet “Mother of the World” (Umm al-dunya, أم الدنيا), remains the most important and -studied country and culture in the South-West Asian/North African region. A recently acquired collection of 163 postcards (dating from the 1880s to the 1930s) provides an immersive overview of some of the wonders and joys of Egypt, from the north of the country in cities like Port Said and Alexandria to iconographic places like Cairo and Luxor along one of the most important waterways in the world, the Nile River.

Cairo

Cairo (القاهرة- al-Qāhirah), the capital of Egypt, is a megacity, with a current population of more than 20 million people, or about one fifth of the country’s total population.  This panoramic view of Cairo (French: Le Caire: Vue panoramique) depicts the city’s Citadel complex. Originally built in the 9th century, it has had many additions throughout its history. In the 12th century, Saladin (Salah al-Din, 1171-1193), the Kurdish-born sultan of Egypt and Syria, fortified the complex to stave off the attacks of the Crusaders. Successive Muslim rulers have since then added to the Citadel. The large alabaster mosque in the upper-right corner of this image is named after Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian-born Ottoman governor and the de facto ruler of Egypt from 1805 to 1848, who is considered the founder of modern Egypt. He is also credited with the development of the Bulaq (Bulak) Press, one of the most important printing press operations in the Middle East.

The Mogamaʻ (مجمع)

This striking image is a photograph of the Mujamaʻ, or Mogamaʻ in Egyptian dialect (مجمع التحرير).  The Mogamaʻ stands over Maydan al-Taḥrīr (ميدان التحرير) in the bureaucratic centre of Cairo. The building was constructed on the orders of King Farouk and was designed by Muḥammad Kamal Ismāʻil, an Egyptian engineer and architect to be a government building—see this map for an overview of different offices. Ismāʻil also designed the expansion of the Great Mosque of Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. The Mogamaʻ was completed in 1952 shortly before the ‘Free Officers’ coup and the rise to power of Gamal Abdel Nasser. It stands at 14 storeys as a towering figure over Taḥrīr square, its architecture garners many debates from those who consider it magnificent and those who object to its utilitarianism. For better or worse, the Mogamaʻ recently closed, in part due to its dilapidated state. It is now being refurbished and remodeled into a luxury hotel.

Maydan al-Taḥrīr, from where the Egyptian revolution of 2011 took place is in the foreground of the photo and to the right of the Mogamaʻ is the Omar Makram Mosque. Omar Makram was a political leader of the late 18th century, his mosque was designed by the Italian architect, Mario Rossi. Rossi designed or helped design several important mosques in Egypt.

The Nile

Cairo sits on the headwaters of the Nile River, which has provided the water for not only the capital but also the entire country from time immemorial.  The importance of water and the Nile is apparent in the following postcard, which references to one of the historically more important jobs, that of the water bearer (saqa, سَقى). Water bearers, a profession dating back to ancient times were generally young, healthy men who, according to this al-yawm al-sābiʻ article had to prove their endurance and strength by carrying a 67-pound bag of sand for 3 days and nights without sitting or sleeping. Once passing this test, a saqa delivered fresh drinking water to the public water fountains (sabil, سبيل) for locals to drink freely. The profession no longer exists, at least in the traditional form due in large part to the founding of the Egyptian water company in 1865.

Qahwah (قهوة)-Kahve (Turkish)-Coffee

 The fascinating history of coffee has been condensed by the rappers Omar Offendum & Thanks Joey suggest in this YouTube video, the Story of Qahwah ☕️ is the story not only of Egypt, but the entire Middle East.

This postcard depicts a typical Cairo street scene, showing men playing backgammon next to a large coffee stand manned by a young barista. The coffee stand includes a representation of a Turkish coffee pot (Turkish: cezve, Arabic: جذوة), a small, long-handled pot with a pouring lip designed specifically to make Turkish, Arab, or Greek style coffee. It is traditionally made of brass or copper, occasionally also silver or gold.

Duke University Libraries’ Egyptian Postcard Collection: https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/egyptpostcards includes many more fascinating images. For more information about the collection, contact Sean Swanick, Librarian for Middle East, North Africa, and Islamic Studies.

 

 

Diversifying the Curriculum & Decolonizing the Collection

International and Area Studies at Duke University LibrariesPlease join us on Friday, April 22, 2022 from 2:00 – 4:00 PM for a discussion of how librarians are currently working to decolonize library collections and diversify scholarship in the curriculum.

Part 1: The Collector and the Collected (2:00 PM – 3:00 PM)

Anna Arays, Librarian for Slavic & East European Studies, Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS), Yale University, will discuss the results of her work as co-editor of The Collector and the Collected: Decolonizing Area Studies Librarianship (Library Juice Press, 2021).

Part 2: Diversifying Scholarship in the Curriculum (3:10 PM – 4:00 PM)

Staff members of Duke University Libraries’ committee on “Diversifying Scholarship in the Curriculum” (Heather Martin, Amy McDonald, Jodi Psoter, Lee Sorensen, and Haley Walton) will lead a round robin about their committee report.

Both meetings are held at the same Zoom link:
https://duke.zoom.us/j/95268364809?pwd=eWlFQisyMWVxcGR6YjdrbFRNRFNIQT09
Meeting ID: 952 6836 4809
Passcode: 110684

This two-part event is organized by the librarians of the International and Area Studies Department at Duke University Libraries.  If you have any questions, please contact Heidi Madden, Ph.D., Head, International and Area Studies.

Collection Spotlight: Asian American Studies

Contributed by Matthew Hayes, Japanese Studies and Asian American Studies Librarian

Asian American history is part and parcel of American history. Asian American experiences emerge within an American context and in relation to the many other cultural, institutional, and political aspects that comprise contemporary life in the United States. And yet, beginning with the initial moments of immigration to the United States by people from Asia, large swathes of white Americans have deemed these histories and experiences as somehow un-American. Several historical moments have laid bare this tendency to distinguish Asian Americans as separate from or, in some cases, a threat to non-Asian Americans: the Exclusion Act of 1882 that barred citizenship, as well as the future entry, of Chinese immigrants; the incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII; the post-9/11 prejudice and profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans; and sweeping incidents of anti-Asian hate, especially of East Asian Americans, following the emergence of the global COVID-19 health crisis. This is to say nothing of the countless examples of racism, prejudice, and exclusion that punctuate history between these more visible and widespread examples.

“An act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to the Chinese, May 6, 1882”; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1996; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives

San Francisco, California (1942). Japanese Americans appear for registration prior to evacuation. Posted instructions for “all persons of Japanese ancestry” appear on the wall behind. Public domain (Wikimedia Commons).

This collection spotlight offers a glimpse into the spectrum of Asian American experiences in the contemporary United States. There are four interrelated genres of writing represented here and all of them are meant to amplify one another. The first is historical writing, which captures not only the movements and moments that comprise Asian American social, political, and economic histories in several regions of the United States, but also traces the emergence of Asian American Studies as a crucial academic discipline that helps us to better understand American history. The second is social science, which provides several key theoretical frameworks for thinking through intersectional, postcolonial, and racial aspects of experience and meaning-making within Asian American communities. These titles ought to serve as theoretical tools for exploring how cultural relationships, bodies of knowledge, and identities form the basis of Asian American subjectivity, and how this subjectivity is continually undermined by policies and systems that seek to delimit the experience of these (and other) ethnic communities within the United States. The third genre is memoirs and personal writing, which captures that very subjectivity. As a complement to the first two genres, both of which provide a largely impersonal or abstract view of Asian American communities and their experience across time, memoirs allow experiences within those communities to emerge first-hand. The reader is therefore allowed a personal glimpse into how some of these historical and theoretical mechanisms operated within lives and experiences of Asian American authors. Finally, literary titles by Asian American authors offers a few examples of how the experiences and perspectives of Asian American writers translate to fiction, which often tackles the very social and historical motifs brought to light in the other genres included here.

Cover image for Moustafa Bayoumi’s How Does it Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (2008)

Cover image for Paula Yoo’s From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement (2021)

This collection spotlight comes on the heels of a very exciting development within Duke’s Asian American and Diaspora Studies (AADS) Program, which has very recently announced a new minor degree option for undergraduate students. After decades of student activism pushing for a curriculum that reflects America’s broad range of diverse backgrounds and histories, students are now able to engage in a full course of study as part of their long-term education. Through the introduction of this new minor degree, the value of Asian American Studies has finally been formally recognized at Duke.

Cultivating a cultural literacy—especially of the domestic cultures with which we interact nearly every day—is crucial for the development of future American generations. This collection spotlight is a great place to start for anyone interested in learning about Asian American communities and the important role they’ve played in the course of American history.

You can find these titles in our Collection Spotlight rack near our Perkins Library Service Desk on the first floor of Perkins starting on April 11th.

Also, consider joining us on April 11th at noon in Perkins 217 to explore our Asian American Collection.

 

Lilly Collection Spotlight: Notable Women in Science and Beyond

Notable Women in Science and Beyond

Lilly Library celebrates Women’s History Month  by shining our spotlight on Notable Women in Science and Beyond. Films and books that highlight the vital role of women in the sciences as well as other areas of society and culture are featured. Below are just a few of the many titles  – check them out in person or online!

Books about Women in the Sciences

Book cover Jennifer Doudna
Code Breaker: Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna

Life in code : a personal history of technology
Pioneering computer programmer Ellen Ullman worked inside the rising culture of technology and the internet. In Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

The code breaker: Jennifer Doudna, gene editing, and the future of the human race
Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues including Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions, a life science revolution.

The doctors Blackwell: how two pioneering sisters brought medicine to women–and women to medicine
In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in America to receive an M.D. She was joined by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician. Exploring the sisters’ allies, and challenges, we see a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women.

Films about Women in the Sciences … and Beyond

Hidden Figures available via streaming or DVD

Hidden Figures via Streaming , DVD, Book, or Audio book
NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Geek Girls DVD 31054
Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of women who live geek life up to the hilt: A feminist geek blogger, a convention-trotting cosplayer, a professional gamer, a video-game designer, and a NASA engineer.

Illustration of three women scientists
Picture a Scientist

Picture a Scientist DVD 33770 or Streaming
This documentary film chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers reveal their experiences as they confront brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science.

We are the Radical Monarchs  Streaming
This film documents the Radical Monarchs–an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice.

Daughters of the Forest  Streaming
This documentary tells the story of a small group of girls in one of the most remote forests left on earth who attend a radical high school where they learn to protect the threatened forest.

DVD cover photo collage of women
The Gender Chip Project

The Gender Chip Project DVD 5320
Filmmaker Helen de Michiel documented several young women majoring in the sciences, engineering and math at Ohio State University. They met regularly over their next three years of college, and created a community to share experiences and struggles. This documentary reveals women finding new ways to honor their own growth, motivations and experience as they imagine how to make the science and technology workplace a comfortable environment for women.

Symbiotic Earth : how Lynn Margulis rocked the boat and started a scientific revolution via DVD 31267 or Streaming
Symbiotic Earth explores the life and ideas of Lynn Margulis, a brilliant and radical scientist, whose unconventional theories challenged the male-dominated scientific community and are today fundamentally changing how we look at evolution, the environment, and ourselves.

My Love Affair with the Brain: the life and science of Dr. Marian Diamond  DVD 31280 and Streaming
As one of the founders of modern neuroscience, Dr. Diamond challenged orthodoxy and changed our understanding of the brain–its plasticity, its response to enrichment and to experiences that shape both development and aging.


Curated by:
Danette Pachtner
Librarian for Film, Video & Digital Media and Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

Carol Terry
Lilly Library Collection Services, Communications & Social Media Coordinator

Resources on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

International and Area Studies at Duke University Libraries

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, on 24 February 2022, has quite understandably alarmed the international community.  This unprovoked act of military aggression against the territorial integrity of a neighboring sovereign state not only violates numerous international treaties and legal conventions.  It also recalls the immediate prelude to World War II, when Nazi Germany invaded the Second Polish Republic (1939), sparking a military conflict that led to the death of millions of people all over the world.  This time, however, the armed aggressor is not only a dictatorship headed by a white Christian nationalist, but also a major nuclear power, with the capacity to destroy all life on our planet.  Suddenly, to know something about Russia, Ukraine, and eastern Europe is in everyone’s interest – if only to figure out how to prevent immediate, complete, and total annihilation.

As Duke University’s Librarian for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies, it is my professional responsibility to help patrons identify, locate, and access the scholarly resources that they need to study and teach about this region of the world.  As a native of Odesa (Ukraine), the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and a first generation American, I also feel a personal sense of responsibility for helping the citizens of my adopted homeland to appreciate the gravity of the situation and work towards the peaceful resolution of Russia’s war against Ukraine.  To that end, this blog post not only offers some basic starting points for comprehending the current crisis, but also offers suggestions for what Duke library patrons (and others) can do to stay well-informed and actively engaged.

Please note that this is by no means a complete list of resources on the topic, which is being covered by specialized centers, such as Harvard University Ukrainian Research Institute, whose webpage on Russia’s War on Ukraine contains useful information and links to open access electronic resources; or the resource page on the same topic created by The Shevchenko Scientific Society in the US. Similarly, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta has a series of short videos called “Did you know?” that answers questions such as “Are Ukrainians and Russians the same people,” “Are Ukrainian and Russian the same language,” “Is the conflict in Ukraine an ethnic conflict?” And the Media Hub of Ukrainian Institute London has not only recordings of various talks on Ukrainian culture but also a video series called 10 Things You Should Know about Ukraine.  Also in the UK, Sheffield Hallam University is hosting Peripheral Histories’ guide to War in Ukraine: Resources for Researchers, Teachers and Students. (Thanks to Ksenya Kiebuzinskii, Slavic Resources Coordinator at the University of Toronto Libraries and  Head, Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre, and Jurij Dobczansky, Senior Cataloging Specialist, Germanic & Slavic Division, Library of Congress, for alerting me to some of these other, non-US-based initiatives).

News

Much of the international news coverage on the Russian invasion of Ukraine can be accessed via Duke University Libraries’ paid subscription to

To get a local perspective on the situation on the ground, without succumbing to either propaganda or disinformation (such as the kind associated with the hashtag #BlackinRussia), you will need to consult trusted, independent, and alternative news sources from Russia and Ukraine proper:

Ukraine

Russia

You can also follow Ukraine-based journalists and correspondents on Twitter:

  • Terrell Jermain Starr, non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and senior reporter at the The Root, an English-language online magazine of African-American culture.
  • Olga Tokariuk, Kyiv-based independent journalist and non-resident Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
  • Christopher Miller, an American retired United States Army Special Forces colonel and former acting US Secretary of Defense.
  • Natalia Gumeniuk, head of Hromadske International.
  • Illia Ponomarenko, defense reporter with The Kyiv Independent.
  • Francis Scarr, reporter for the British Broadcasting Company.
  • Neil Hauer, independent journalist in country.
  • Shaun Walker, journalist for The Guardian.
  • Christopher Miller, correspondent for BuzzFeedNews.
  • OSINTtechnical, American blogger and freelancer at UK Defense Journal, who publishes open source imagery of fighting.

Scholarship 

Unless they are open access, most works of scholarship produced on the basis of primary sources can take some time before they are published. Consequently, there is a bit of a time-lag between current events and their scholarly analysis.  Nevertheless, it is possible to find numerous works on the history of post-Cold War world and the immediate causes of Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began with the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

To find books and monographs on the topic, conduct a “subject” search in the “Books & Media” tab of the Duke University Libraries’ online catalog for the following controlled vocabulary (Library of Congress Subject Headings):

To find scholarly articles on the topic, conduct a search in one of our research databases, which index or provide full text to journals in different academic disciplines, research areas, and world regions. For the topic in question, you might want to consult the databases in the following categories:

A curated list of relevant article databases can also be found on the “Articles” tab of the library guide to Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies.

For documentaries, check out the offerings on Duke’s subscription streaming video platforms such as Docuseek, which includes the following Ukraine-related films:

  • Town of Glory (2020)
    Spotlights a small and prototypical provincial Russian town, where people admire Vladimir Putin for making Russia great again.
  • Nine Month War (2018)
    The experience of a young man in western Ukraine who is drafted into the Ukrainian army when Russia annexes Crimea.
  • The Gas Weapon (2014)
    Post-Soviet Ukraine’s (and Europe’s) dependence on Russian gas.
  • How Putin Came to Power (2005)
    Uses archival footage to trace the stunningly rapid ascension of a political unknown to leadership of the Kremlin.
  • The Democratic Revolutionary Handbook (2007)
    Includes interviews with the organizers of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.

Finally,  for award-winning Ukrainian feature films on the war in the Donbas, check out the following tiles:

  • Donbass (2022)
    Ukraine’s official submission to the 91st Academy Awards is a tale about the hybrid war in Eastern Ukraine, a world lost in post-truth and fake identities.
  • Bad roads (2022)
    Ukraine’s official Oscar submission for the 2022 Academy Awards is a collection of four short stories are set along the roads of Donbass during the war.
  • The Earth is blue as an orange (2020)
    A film about the daily trauma of living in a war-zone, in Donetsk, told from the perspective of a young mother and her children.

Activism

Here are just some suggestions for how you can get involved and stay active.

  • Attend/organize an anti-war rally, vigil, or teach-in
  • Write your elected representatives in Washington, DC and tell them to pass legislation
    • authorizing additional humanitarian, financial, and military assistance to Ukraine
    • setting up a UN-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine
    • expediting the immigration and resettlement of war refugees in the US
    • excluding Russia’s entire banking system from SWIFT international payment network
  • Donate to charities specifically seeking to ameliorate the human suffering caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A list of such charities has been compiled by several different organizations:
  • Learn a Slavic language, so you can increase your cultural literacy when it comes to Russia and at least some of the countries of Eastern Europe.
    • Duke University Libraries have online language guides for Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian.
    • Duke University’s Slavic and Eurasian Language Resource Center (SEELRC) has created a set of reference grammars for the languages of the entire region.

Hopefully, peace will prevail and nonviolent solutions will ultimately be found. Whatever happens, I will continue to fulfill my mission of acquiring relevant resources for Duke University Libraries’ Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies collection and assisting patrons in using it to better understand the current situation. That is the least I can do at this time. In the future, I plan to learn more about the process of decolonizing the academic library in general, and area studies librarianship in particular.  And to do a better job of foregrounding the voices of Ukrainians and the many other non-“Western” peoples who once inhabited or continue to find themselves living in the shatterzone of empires, a beleaguered region of Europe still known as the bloodlands.

If you have any questions about the resources mentioned in this blog post or have suggestions for other items to include on this list, please send them to ernest.zitser@duke.edu. Duke patrons with a NetID can also suggest a purchase by filling out this online request form.

War in Ukraine: Where do we go from here?

War in Ukraine: Where do we go from here?

March 1, 2022 – 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Social Sciences 139, LaBarre Auditorium and on ZOOM
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6zY2tGzUGcQTyNU

Participants

  • Ambassador Patrick Duddy, Rethinking Diplomacy Program Fellow, Duke Center for International & Global Studies
  • Professor Charlie Becker, Department of Economics
  • Professor Simon Miles, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Professor Michael Newcity, Deputy Director, Duke University Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies
  • Professor Gionvanni Zanalda, Director, Duke University Center for International and Global Studies

Moderator

  • Professor Edna Andrews, Director, Duke University Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies and Duke University Slavic and Eurasian Language Resource Center

Sponsored by Duke University’s Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies & the Slavic and Eurasian Language Resource Center (CSEEES & SEELRC).

Contact Cathy Lewis, c.lewis@duke.edu, with any questions.

Lilly Streams: Documentary Films for Black History Month

Post by Danette Pachtner, Duke Libraries’ Librarian for Film, Video & Digital Media and Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

Black History Month is dedicated to the histories and stories of Black Americans and the African diaspora who have systemically been sidelined for centuries. Duke Libraries’ film collection has a treasure trove of titles to view and explore.

The Docuseek African-American Studies Collection is an interdisciplinary streaming video collection of over 80 award-winning films, featuring popular and classic films plus dynamic new releases, focused on social, political and cultural history and contemporary issues that are ideal resources for Black History Month.

Duke Libraries provides access to these streaming videos in The Docuseek Complete Collection, with Duke NetId/password authentication.

John Lewis
John Lewis: Get in the Way | dir. Kathleen Dowdey | 2020

John Lewis: Get in the Way tells the gripping tale of Lewis’s role in the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement through never-before-seen interviews shot over 20 years.

Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution details the history of how Medicare was leveraged to desegregate hospitals. Before Medicare, fewer than half the nation’s hospitals served black and white patients equally, and in the South, 1/3 of hospitals would not admit African-Americans even for emergencies.
Power to Heal illustrates how Movement leaders and grass-roots volunteers pressed and worked with the federal government to achieve a greater measure of justice and fairness for African-Americans.

Film poster
Horror Noire: a History of Black Horror | dir. Xavier Burgin | 2019

Horror Noire traces the extensive history of Black horror films. Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces a secret history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre.

Al Helm follows an African American Christian choir’s journey to the Palestinian National Theater to put on a play about Martin Luther King, Jr. A rousing portrait of the changes unfolding in the Middle East as a nonviolent movement grows in Palestine, this dynamic and complex work is born of a brilliantly simple and potent idea: what would happen if African American Christians—the same group who served as exemplars of the Civil Rights Movement—could witness firsthand the plight of Palestinians today?

Still of Lovings
The Loving Story | dir. Nancy Buirski | 2011
Film Poster
A Crime on the Bayou | dir. Nancy Buirski | 2020

The classic documentary film, The Loving Story, from Nancy Buirski’s trilogy profiling brave individuals who fought for justice in and around the Civil Rights era, is a heart-rending story of the Lovings and the ground-breaking court case that legalized marriage between interracial couples. A Crime on the Bayou, is the final film in Buirski’s trilogy, which outlines the extraordinary story of Gary Duncan, arrested for touching a white boy’s arm, whose civil rights case in Louisiana went all the way to the Supreme Court in the late 1960s.

River City Drumbeat chronicles Edward “Nardie” White’s instruction of ancestral Pan-African culture and drumming in Louisville, Kentucky. For three decades, Edward “Nardie” White has been leading the River City Drum Corps in order to instill a foundation of purposeful resilience within his neighborhood youth. Against the backdrop of the American South, Mr. White’s drumline and its multi-generational network of support has been a lifeline for many young African Americans. In his final year as director he trains his successor Albert Shumake, a young artist whose troubled life was transformed by the drumline and Mr. White’s mentorship when he was a teen. During this transitional year, Mr. White and Albert reflect on the tragedies and triumphs in their lives and the legacy of the drum corps.

Father’s Kingdom depicts the untold story of the remarkable civil rights pioneer Father Divine. Once a celebrity who was decades ahead of his time fighting for civil rights, he has largely been written out of history because of the audacity of his religious claims, Father’s revolutionary ideas on race and identity still resonate today.

Film still
Black Girl in Suburbia | dir. Melissa Lowery | 2016

Black Girl in Suburbia takes a look at the suburbs of America from the perspective of women of color. Through conversations with her own daughters, with teachers and scholars who are experts in the personal impacts of growing up a person of color in a predominately white place, this film explores the conflicts that many Black girls in homogeneous hometowns have in relating to both white and Black communities.

New Docuseek releases include Stateless, a film that reveals the dark and deadly history of institutionalized oppression of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, and Oliver Tambo, about the man responsible for the release of Nelson Mandela and who helped to end the apartheid in South Africa.

If you would like to explore more streaming video brought to you by Duke Libraries, browse titles in Kanopy, Swank Digital Campus, Films on Demand World Cinema and Feature Films for Education as well as the Academic Video Online collections.

 

 

 

 

The Oriental – Durham’s first Chinese Restaurant

 

Oriental Matchbook
Ebay

In 1949, after living and working in the US for 30 years and making his home in Durham for over 10 years, Der Wo, the owner and operator of Durham’s first, very popular, Chinese restaurant was joyfully reunited with his family for the first time in 18 years.

Durham Morning Herald, 25 February 1949

Der Wo was originally from the Chinese province of Guangdong (called Canton by Westerners of the time) near Hong Kong. He immigrated to the US to work in Chinese restaurants in Washington DC. Before he came to Durham, he had 16 years of experience in the Chinese/American restaurant business. Der Wo brought his skills and joined a venture in Durham backed by the very successful sister restaurant, also the Oriental, based in  Charlotte NC.  Although the term “Oriental” is no longer used to identify people of Asian ancestry, in the period of the founding of this cafe, the term was widely used. The term “Chinese /American” more accurately reflects the people born in China who lived and worked in the United States.

Chinese /American cuisine had been a national fad in urban areas across the United States since the early 1900s. By the mid-1930s, Chop Suey, the common name for a Chinese/American adaptation of stir fry, was only available in Durham as a canned good from La Choy, founded in the US midwest in 1922, or from the Pines Tea Room near Chapel Hill, run by a Mrs. Vickers.

Collection of John DeFerrari, http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2021/11/chinese-restaurants-in-dc-at-mid-century.html

The Immigration Act of 1790 and the Chinese Exclusion Acts, in force from the 1880s until 1942, meant that Der Wo could not become a US citizen. In 1915 a court action opened the door for more Chinese restaurant workers to enter the US, but this immigration was tightly controlled. In the 1930 US Census, Durham had only 3 people identified as Chinese-born.

Nonetheless, by 1938 downtown Durham had the Oriental Restaurant, a thriving Chinese/American eatery. The Oriental, like other Chinese-owned businesses, followed Exclusion era practices by employing Chinese “bachelor” cooks and staff, several of whom lived on the premises. In the 1940 Census, Der Wo and five of his employees were listed as living above the restaurant on Parrish St.

A system of mutual support developed among Chinese/Americans and among business owners and restauranteurs called Huiguan. This relatively informal association system was similar to clans or a guild system for the management of both the supply of Chinese food and specialty products, and the flow of restaurant workers into the United States. The small staff of Chinese men gathered in Durham in the mid-1930s to open the new Chinese restaurant.

Durham Sun, 18 August 1938

The Oriental was essentially a 90-seat `white tablecloth restaurant well-sited in downtown Durham about equidistant from the two largest hotels in the downtown area and two blocks from the busy passenger train station. The Oriental was whites only. The operators chose Parrish St, also known as the “Black Wall Street,” because of proximity to patrons via the railroad and hotels, but the business did not make any accommodation for black patrons. The presence of Black Wall Street in a white downtown was an anomaly as was a segregated Chinese Restaurant just steps from the two largest black-owned enterprises in the city.

By the early 1940s, a Chinese restaurant for black patrons, the Asia Cafe, was established about a mile from the Oriental. Located in Hayti, Durham’s black business district,  the restaurant was near the important intersection of Fayetteville St and Pettigrew St.  The Asia Cafe was operated by Hugh Wong. The site was taken under urban renewal as part of  Durham Freeway.

The Oriental used many of the marketing tools available in the 1930s. Der Wo advertised his restaurant in the Duke Chronicle, UNC’s Daily Tar Heel, and the Durham newspapers as well as the City Directories and the telephone books. Der Wo arranged for civic groups to hold meetings and banquets in his facility. In addition to supporting the American war effort during World War Two via war bond drives and other donations, Der Wo’s earlier activism included support for the nationalist Chinese cause including holding a banquet at the Oriental in honor of a barnstorming Chinese aviatrix raising funds for the support of the nationalists against the Japanese.

Open Durham

A grand opening for the Oriental was held on Saturday June18th 1938 and the restaurant was a hit from the start. Der Wo with the backing of the owner of the Oriental in Charlotte had rented a white brick two-story restaurant building with granite details likely built in the late teens or early twenties. Since he came from restaurants in more architecturally sophisticated urban Washington DC, the Oriental exterior was modernized in the Moderne style with full plate glass doors and windows surrounded by opaque panels of pigmented structural glass, probably Vitrolite, in ivory and black . The name “The Oriental Restaurant” was in a green bamboo style script in the glass panel above the front facade and there was a neon sign. The colors of the renovated interior were cream and brown and the main dining room seated 60 and included both high booths and tables. There was an adjoining dining room seating 30 for meetings. The restaurant was fully air-conditioned at a time that many offices and hotel rooms were not.

Open Durham

The preferred Chinese/ American dish in the 1930s remained Chop Suey, but in a recent survey on social media of long-term Durham residents now in their 60’s and older, the Oriental’s Chicken Chow Mein is the most frequently remembered dish. The owner of a local plumbing company was so fond of the Oriental that his family ate there once a week throughout the 1950s and 1960s and many survey respondents remembered special Sunday lunches at the Oriental. The judgment concerning the popularity of the Oriental’s Chow Mein is verified in a 1950s newspaper article about the long-time cook at the Oriental, Frank Dea Toy.

George Lougee, a local newspaper reporter for the Durham Herald Sun, wrote affectionately not only about Der Wo, but also about the kitchen workers like Frank Dea Toy over several decades. Lougee’s primary beat was the Courts, and the Oriental was just around the corner from the Courthouse and jail.

From the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection #P0105, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Among the most interesting aspects of the Oriental story is Der Wo and his family’s path from China to Durham which was detailed in Lougee’s 1949 feature newspaper story about the reunion of Der Wo and his family after the long separation because of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the disruption of World War II.

In 1919, Der Wo immigrated from China via San Francisco to Washington DC to make his way in the restaurant business. No doubt he improved his English and he learned about the operations of restaurants.

In 1931 Der Wo was successful enough to make the two-month journey to return to China to marry. Der Wo’s parents had arranged his marriage to Wu Mei On, an eligible young woman. Before Der Wo returned to the US about a year later, Wu Mei On had had a daughter and was pregnant. Wu Mei On and her children lived with Der Wo’s parents. Der Wo returned to the restaurant business in Washington DC in 1932 before coming to Durham in late 1937.

In 1941, the Japanese bombed and invaded the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The danger and brutality of the attack prompted the extended Der Wo family to flee into the interior of China. After a few months, they returned to Hong Kong to find their home intact and they resumed their lives there.

Der Wo, Immigration records, ancestry.com

In some of the records of the census and other Federal agencies from the 1930s and 1940s, Der Wo is listed as white. In 1949 Der Wo began Naturalization proceedings and was finally reunited with his wife and met, for the first time, his 18-year old son. Part of the delay in the reunion was because of immigration restrictions. Both his wife and son had to come to the United States on temporary visas. The family lived together for a number of years and two other sons were born.

In 1953 Der Wo, suffering from heart disease, died of a sudden heart attack, and his wife and older son were forced to take over the operation of the restaurant.

In 1954 Federal Immigration and Naturalization authorities contacted the family about possible deportation because of the lapsed visa status of both Der Wo’s wife and older son.  Lougee wrote about the family’s immigration situation and gathered local support. With the assistance of Congressman Carl Durham, a  private bill was introduced and approved by Congress and signed by President Eisenhower to allow the family to stay together in Durham.

With the help of her son and the restaurant staff,  Mrs Der Wo operated the restaurant successfully throughout the 1950s despite her limited English language skills.

In a mid-1950s feature story, Frank  Dea Toy, cook at the Oriental, was featured. Dea Toy claimed, to newspaperman Lougee’s astonishment, that after living in Durham for over twenty years he had never been to any sort of ball game nor had he attend more than one movie a year. Radio and television were, he said, too “noisy.” The isolation of the Chinese workers was further illustrated by Lougee’s reporting on a 1944 fatal hit and run accident that killed an Oriental employee who was walking in Durham with two Chinese colleagues. The death was never solved.

Frank Dea Toy, From the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection #P0105, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

By the early1960’s a shift in the primary shopping areas from downtown Durham to the suburbs north and south of Durham’s city center was well underway and the lunch and dinner trade at the Oriental were likely a fraction of what they had been. Urban renewal was in the planning stages and the face of Durham was changing.

Civil rights protest was also rising, and in May 1963 the Oriental was a site at which Black students, primarily from North Carolina Central University (then College), staged a late afternoon peaceful sit-in. Sit-in leaders asked to be served on behalf of their 60 followers and were refused by management. Some students left, but 48 waited for the police to charge them with unlawful trespass. All were charged and released without bond.

By 1964 the formal process of downtown Durham redevelopment using Federal funds was underway. The passenger train station in downtown Durham was closed and one of the two major downtown hotels closed as well. No doubt redevelopment was a part of the decline of the Oriental.  Mrs. Der closed the Oriental in 1966. The building itself was not demolished until the early 1970s. The ultimate causes of the closure of the restaurant may have been the aging of the staff and owner, but other factors may have included the aging infrastructure and the changes in the surrounding business climate. In the face of public accommodation laws, urban renewal programs, the Durham Freeway, and the end of official segregation, the Oriental did not survive.

Many thanks to my colleagues, Yunyi Wang and Luo Zhou, and to Prof. Calvin Cheung-Miaw for their editorial assistance.

Select Bibliography/  Further Reading:

 

Bow, Leslie. Partly Colored : Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South. New York: New York : New York University Press, 2010.

Carter, Susan B. “Celestial Suppers: The Political Economy of America’s Chop Suey Craze, 1900-1930.” Asia-Pacific Economic and Business History Conference, 2009. Unpublished but available online, https://apebhconference.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/carter1.pdf

Chen, Yong. “The Rise of Chinese Food in the United States.” Oxford University Press, 2017.

Chen, Yong. “Chop Suey, USA : The Story of Chinese Food in America.” New York: New York : Columbia University Press, 2014.

Coe, Andrew. Chop Suey : A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States. New York: New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.

Desai, Jigna
, and Joshi, Khyati Y. , eds.  Asian Americans in Dixie : Race and Migration in the South. Urbana: Urbana : University of Illinois Press,  2013.

Edwards, Christopher. “Homeland Comfort in an Alien Land: The Role of the Huiguan in Exclusion Era Los Angeles.” The Toro Historical Review 6.1, 2019.

Hinnershitz, Stephanie. A Different Shade of Justice : Asian American Civil Rights in the South. Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill : The University of Carolina Press, 2017.

Holaday, J. Chris, and Patrick Cullom. Classic Restaurants of Durham. Charleston, SC: Charleston, SC : American Palate, a Division of The History Press, 2020.

Jung, John. Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants. Cypress, Calif.: Yin and Yang Press, 2010.

McGrath, Raymond and Frost, A.C. Glass in Architecture and Decoration. London: The Architectural Press, 1937.

Mendelson, Anne. Chow Chop Suey : Food and the Chinese American Journey. New York: New York : Columbia University Press, 2016.

Mohl, Raymond A., 
Van Sant, John E.  and 
Chizuru Saeki, eds.     Far East, Down South : Asians in the American South.  Tuscaloosa: Tuscaloosa : The University of Alabama Press, 2016.

 

 

 

 

Lilly Collection Spotlight: Native Voices – Active Voices

Native Voices – Active Voices

Lilly Library’s exhibit Native Americans in North Carolina: the Path from the Past to the Present focuses on Library resources about Native American history in our state. If our resources pique your interest, a deeper look into Lilly’s collections unearths the creative breadth of indigenous peoples throughout North America. Books on Native American art, novels by Native Americans, memoirs of native experiences, as well as films and documentaries are available on display in the Lilly lobby.  A few of the more than fifty  Native Voices Active Voices titles in the spotlight are featured below:

Books

Moonshot: the Indigenous Comics Collection

Moonshot: the Indigenous comics collection
This collection of comic book stories showcase the rich heritage and identity of indigenous storytelling. From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future, this series presents some of the finest comic book and graphic novel work on the continent.

Adjusting the Lens
Powerful case studies address the ways that the historical photographic record of Indigenous peoples was shaped by colonial practices, and explore how this legacy is being confronted by Indigenous art activism and contemporary renegotiations of the past. Contributors to this collection analyze the photographic practices and heritage of communities from North America, Europe, and Australia

The Longest Trail

The Longest Trail: Writings on American Indian History, Culture, and Politics
Author Alvin Josephy Jr.’s groundbreaking, popular books and essays advocated for a fair historical assessment of Native Americans, and set the course for modern Native American studies.
This collection, which includes magazine articles, speeches, a white paper, and introductions and chapters of books, gives a generous and reasoned view of five hundred years of Indian history in North America from first settlements in the East to the long trek of the Nez Perce Indians in the Northwest.

Film

Winter in the Blood

Winter in the Blood
“Virgil First Raise wakes in a ditch on the hardscrabble plains of Montana. He stumbles home to his ranch on the reservation only to learn that his wife, Agnes, has left him. Worse, she’s stolen his beloved rifle. Virgil sets out to find her, beginning an odyssey of inebriated intrigues with a mysterious “Airplane Man,” a beautiful barmaid, and two dangerous men in suits. This quixotic, modern-day vision quest moves Virgil ever closer to oblivion–until he discovers a long-hidden truth about his identity. But is it too late?”

Dance Me Outside
When the Kidabanessee Reservation in northern Ontario is shocked by a brutal murder of one of the residents, four teenagers find their friendships put to the ultimate test. The struggle to become men and women becomes entangled with a fight for justice as they find their friendships and romances maturing into something unexpected.

Mankiller

Mankiller : Activist, Feminist, Cherokee Chief
Wilma Mankiller is someone who humbly defied the odds to fight injustice and give a voice to the voiceless. She overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first female Principal Chief in 1985. This documentary examines the legacy of the formidable Wilma Mankiller.

The Lilly Library Collection Spotlight Native Voices shines through February. Interested in the full list of titles? Check them out in Lilly’s Book and Films in Spotlight

Native Americans in North Carolina: the Path from the Past to the Present

Native Americans in North Carolina:
the Path from the Past to the Present

The research and suggested resources presented in the article Imagining Duke’s Campus in 1000 AD inspire the Lilly Library exhibit: Native Americans in North Carolina: the Path from the Past to the Present. Tangible artifacts and reference material highlighting the history of Native Americans in North Carolina  carry us together on a journey over time to the campus experience of today. The exhibit presents historical evidence predating European contact, records and accounts of the university’s Native American student experience, and a look at the extent of Native American tribal reach in present day North Carolina.

North Carolina: The Arrival of Europeans

Book cover
A New Voyage to Carolina, John Lawson (1709)

When the first Europeans arrived in what they called Carolina, the 16th century surveyor John White depicted in detail the established villages and individuals living on the land near Roanoke. A century later John Lawson catalogued the peoples and bounty of the land he traveled. His account A New Voyage to Carolina (produced in 1709) revealed the diversity of nature especially flora and of the nations of Native Americans. An original edition of Lawson’s book is found in the Rubenstein Library collection but does not circulate.
For Duke community members with NetIDs who wish  to examine Lawson’s work, reprints and online versions are readily available.

Duke: The Arrival of Joseph S. Maytubby

Maytubby
Joseph S. Maytubby (Image from Duke University Archives)

The relationship between Duke and its Native American constituents goes back further in history than one might expect. In 1892, Trinity College (the predecessor to Duke University) saw the arrival of Joseph S. Maytubby on its campus in Durham. Maytubby, a member of the Chickasaw tribe became the first Native American to receive a degree from Trinity College. An excellent student, he served as president of the Hesperian Literary Society, was involved with the Trinity Archive literary magazine, played football, and, as a capstone to his stellar academic career, his oratory skills won the Wiley Gray Medal competition for the 1896 commencement.

Duke Magazine Retro: Native Americans at Trinity in the Nineteenth Century provides more insight into university history and Mr. Maytubby’s experience.

Today: the Path Continues

In present day, the Duke Native American Student Alliance serves as a resource and advocates on behalf of Native American Students on campus. Read its mission statement to learn more. One element of NASA’s stated mission is to advance the awareness of Native American culture throughout campus and the state.

Map of NC Tribal Communities – source: North Carolina Dept. of Administration

It is not generally known that North Carolina has the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River. North Carolina is home to eight tribes recognized tribes by the state, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation – the only federally recognized Native American community in North Carolina.   This exhibit offers a glimpse into the complicated and often uncomfortable history of the Native American tale.

The Lilly Library exhibit Native Americans in North Carolina: the Path from the Past to the Present is on display until March 1, 2022.
Curated by Librarians Greta Boers and Carson Holloway. Artifacts on display are from the collections of Carson Holloway and Greta Boers.

Exhibit Opening: “Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold:  Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library”

The opening reception for “Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold:  Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library” is scheduled to take place in front of the International & Area Studies exhibit case, on the second floor of Bostock Library, on Duke’s West Campus, on Thursday, 3 February 2022, at 2-4pm.

This public exhibit is an attempt to offer a different perspective on Afghanistan’s history through the holdings from Duke University Libraries. While the sobriquet the “graveyard of empires” has recently gained primacy in discussions about Afghanistan, the reality is vastly different.  Over its long history, this mountainous south-central Asian country has actually been the cradle of a number of great empires, such as the Ghaznavid (Afghanistan), Timurid (Iran), and Mughal (India).

The country literally sits atop one of the world’s largest reserves of various metals and minerals, including gold and lapis lazuli.  Many of Afghanistan’s most important cities were once significant spaces for commerce as well as intellectual exchange, particularly along the fabled Silk Roads.

Culturally, Afghanistan has been the home for some notable persons such as Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Sufi mystic, who is still one of the most widely read poets in the world.  Moreover, while Afghanistan has become a predominantly Muslim country, there has always been a plurality of religious thought, from Buddhism to Christianity to Judaism as well as Zoroastrianism.

“Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold:  Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library” is curated by the interim librarians for South and Southeast Asia from the library’s International & Area Studies Department and dedicated to the South Asian studies specialists who have helped to build Duke’s collection on Afghanistan.

This public exhibit will run from December 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022.

 

Imagining Duke’s Campus in 1000 AD

John “Blackfeather” Jeffries blesses 25-acres of new land acquired by the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Photograph used with permission by Ted Richardson, TEDRICHARDSONMEDIA.COM

This post is part of a series intended to introduce first-year students to the diverse history of Duke and Durham. These posts are brief introductions, but include more detailed resources for further reading and exploration.

Many formal gatherings in the Americas begin with acknowledgement and prayer for the indigenous people of the past, and to honor those among us now.   Other examples of respect are the Duke Forest Land Acknowledgement Statement  and the Eno River Association’s Land Acknowledgement which bow  to the  Yésah, “the people”,  the collection of tribes who have lived on the North Carolina and Virginia Piedmonts.   As you find your way to class, you may wonder who was walking over Duke’s campus 1200 years ago.  Where are their descendants?

North Carolina has the highest number of Native Americans east of the Mississippi. A map reconstructing ancient languages of the Southeast identifies three clusters:  Iroquois, Siouan, and Muskhogean.  Two range across the state. To the west are the Iroquois linguistic family, the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee.    In the Piedmont, southern, and the eastern parts of the State are the remaining tribes of the Siouan (Tutelo) linguistic family: Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Sappony, Waccamaw, Meherrin, Lumbee, and Occaneechi.

How far back can we go in order to imagine the people who lived here? Much of what we know draws on archaeological evidence from the Haw River Drainage area, Yadkin River, and Roanoke Rapids. The Research Laboratories of Archaeology at the University of North Carolina includes a list of contextual excavations going back to 10,000 BC in the Piedmont—where you are now–  with descriptions of culture and life for every age, starting with the Clovis culture of the Pleistocene.  The Ancient North Carolinians website includes a pre-Colonial section for the Central Piedmont.

More recent accounts, summarized in NCPedia, describe the Occaneechi and Sappony nations as documented by Europeans starting in the 17th century.  There are also accounts of the more ancient Shakori and Eno tribes of the Piedmont, and the Tuscarora  towards the east.  Two centuries later, Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 began the forced removal of the Cherokee from Georgia in the Trail of Tears.  A band of 300-400 escaped to the mountains in western North Carolina, and eventually bought what is now the Qualla reservation.  It  is from there that Duke’s first Native American students arrived in 1881 to attend Trinity College and the Cherokee Industrial School.

Contemporary native communities closest to Duke include the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, in Orange and Alamance Counties to the west of Durham, and the Sappony to the north in Person County.   The website for UNC’s Native American Center provides contact information for each nation, pointing to newspapers, councils and leaders,  as well as a map of the 8 tribal nations recognized by the State of North Carolina.  There are four urban Indian organizations, including the Triangle Native American Association.  Closer to home is the Duke University Native American Student Alliance chartered in 1992.

This isn’t enough to understand what’s beneath your feet, or to recognize who might be walking beside you. In the mixture of oral traditions, documentation, and historical interpretations, what are the real stories?  You can visit the excavations closest to Duke in Hillsborough, with evidence from the late Woodland Period from 1000 to 1600 AD.   They include a reconstruction of an Occaneechi Village from 300 years ago. Watch the calendar for Pow Wows in North Carolina,  find out what to expect and become familiar with the appropriate etiquette if it’s your first one.  There are many ways to honor and celebrate Native Americans at Duke.

Tribal Seals of the 8 North Carolina Tribes
Seals of the 8 North Carolina Tribes

To get a start on learning more:

 Adams, David W. 2020.  Education for extinction: American Indians and the boarding school experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas

Chaffin, Nora Campbell. 1950. Trinity College, 1839-1892: the beginnings of Duke University. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Coe, Joffre Lanning. 2006. The formative cultures of the Carolina Piedmont. Raleigh, N.C.: Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources.

Gillispie, Valerie. 2018. “Retro: Native Americans at Trinity in the Nineteenth Century,” Duke Magazine (February  7).

Ingram, Jill Elizabeth. 2008.  Man in the middle : the boarding school education of Will West Long. MA Thesis, Western Carolina University.

Lawson, John. 1709. A new voyage to Carolina London: [s.n.].   You can also request to see the first edition  in the David M. Rubenstein Library.

Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis. 1999. Time before history: the archaeology of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Just Launched: Uyghur Human Rights web archive

The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation is pleased to announce the launch of its collaborative Uyghur Human Rights web archive, preserving web resources documenting the displacement and repression of Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Tatars, and Kyrgyz peoples in East Turkestan/Xinjiang, in the People’s Republic of China.

Like other web archives, the Uyghur Human Rights collection seeks to preserve vulnerable information that may disappear from the live web and capture the ways in which selected websites have evolved over time.

The creators of these websites include but are not limited to:

  • Charitable trusts and associations
  • Educational institutions
  • Financial institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Individuals
  • News agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Political parties.

While the focus of the archive is East Turkestan/Xinjiang, the selected resources come from many countries and regions, e.g., North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia, and are in a variety of languages.

A collection-level catalog record for the Uyghur Human Rights collection is available in WorldCat, an online union catalog created and maintained collectively by member institutions. By uploading the catalog record for this web archive to largest and most comprehensive database of bibliographic and ownership information currently available will make the Uyghur Human Rights collection both findable and accessible to researchers from around the world.

The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation’s Web Collecting Program, of which Duke University Libraries are a proud member, is a collaborative collection development effort to build curated, thematic collections of freely available, but at-risk, web content in order to support research.  The Web Collecting Program is an initiative of the Confederation’s Collection Development Group, under the direction of the Web Collecting Advisory Committee.

If you have questions about the Uyghur Human Rights web archive, please reach out to ivyplusweb@library.columbia.edu

Native American Heritage: What’s Streaming at Duke Libraries

For Native American History Month, one of Duke Libraries’ streaming video platforms,  Docuseek, is highlighting a number of films about and made by Indigenous Peoples.  Docuseek presents an excellent collection of documentary films about Native Americans,  including National Film Board of Canada’s First Nations films, Women Make Movies, and distributors Bullfrog Films and Icarus Films.

These selections trace Indigenous activism, movement-building, politics, art, culture, language, astronomy, restorative-justice systems, and the fight to protect water and sacred lands.

film image
As Nutayuneaan (dir. Anne Makepeace, 2011)

 

As Nutayuneaan (We Still Live Here) 
Tells the amazing story of the return of the Wampanoag language, a language that was silenced for more than a century.
(Bullfrog Films; streaming with Duke netid/password)

film image
Conscience Point (dir. Treva Wurmfeld, 2021)


Conscience Point
Unearths a deep clash of values between the Shinnecock Indian Nation and their elite Hamptons neighbors, who have made sacred land their playground. (Women Make Movies; streaming with Duke netid/password)

film image
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (dir. Alanis Obomsawin, 2015)

 

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
Examines the historic confrontation between the Mohawks, Québec police, and the Canadian army that propelled Native issues into the international spotlight and into the Canadian conscience.
(National Film Board of Canada; streaming with Duke netid/password)

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The Mystery of Chaco Canyon, dir. Anna Sofaer, 2015)

The Mystery of Chaco Canyon
Unveils the ancient astronomy of southwestern Pueblo Indians.
(Bullfrog Films; streaming with Duke netid/password)

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Skydancer (dir. Katja Esson, 2021)

Skydancer
Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson explores the colorful and at times tragic history of the Mohawk skywalkers, men who leave their families on the reservation to travel to NYC to work construction jobs.
(Women Make Movies; streaming with Duke netid/password)

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Standing on Sacred Ground (dir. Christopher McLeod, 2015)

Standing on Sacred Ground
In this four-part documentary series from the producer of In the Light of Reverence, native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land in the form of government megaprojects, consumer culture, and resource extraction as well as competing religions and climate change.
(Bullfrog Films; streaming with Duke netid/password)

Native Cinema Showcase 2021

If these titles whet your appetite for more great movies, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase is coming up later this month. An annual celebration of the best in Native film, this year’s showcase is online  and runs from November 12-18, 2021. And Women Make Movies is screening online a selection of films by and about Native American women from November 19-30th; sign up here to receive more info.

Lilly Collection Spotlight: LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novels

LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novels

Comics Code Stamp

In 1954, Frederic Wertham published the now infamous Seduction of the Innocent, linking juvenile delinquency to comics. Testifying before Congress in 1954, Wertham stated emphatically that “it is my opinion, without any reasonable doubt, and without any reservation, that comic books are an important contributing factor in many cases of juvenile delinquency.” The ensuing uproar on comics’ deleterious effects on the nation’s youth led to the creation of the Comics Magazine Association of American which in turn issued the Comics Code Authority (CCA).

While the adoption of the code by publishers was voluntary, comics without the CCA logo faced an uphill battle in terms of distribution. This de facto censorship system was wide-ranging, touching on such things as how persons in authority could be portrayed, how crimes could be presented, directives on illustrations, and the portrayals of marriage and sex.

The CCA had a long-term chilling effect on the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters in mainstream comics; However, its creation led to the vibrant underground comix movement where artists and authors ignored the strict code. Though the CCA was revised several times in the 1970s, loosening some restrictions, it wasn’t until 1992 in Alpha Flight #106 that Marvel’s Northstar stated, “I am gay.” The CCA was totally abandoned in the early 2000s.

Today, though there is still progress to be made, LGBTQIA+ persons and characters are found in graphic novels from superhero-themed to memoirs. The Lilly Graphic Novel Collection is a great place to begin your exploration. Below are a few highlights from our vast collection. Enjoy!

Fun Home

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. In this award winning graphic memoir, Bechdel chronicles her relationship with her distant father, an English teacher and director of the town’s funeral home, “Fun Home” to the Bechdel family. From childhood through her coming out to her parents, Fun Home explores Bechdel’s fraught relationship with her father, the exploration of her sexuality, and a tragedy that leaves her much to reckon with. Fun Home was adapted for Broadway and has the distinction of being the first Broadway musical featuring a lesbian protagonist. It won the Tony award for Best Musical in  2015. Bechdel is also the author of the critically acclaimed Dykes to Watch Out For series.

Bingo Love

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin (author) and Jenn St.-Onge and Joy San (artists). In 1963, Hazel and Mari meet at church bingo, and their friendship grows into love. This new found love, however, is unacceptable to their families and their community, and Mari’s family moves away.  Many years later, after Hazel and Mari each married and raised children, they reconnect at a bingo hall and realize that their feelings are unchanged. Fifty years later, through strength and determination, they claim the life that they always wanted. Bingo Love started as a Kickstarter project until it was picked up by Image Comics.

Our Work Is Everywhere

Our Work is Everywhere by Syan Rose. This graphic non-fiction work highlights the diverse voices in the queer and trans communities. Rose has a broad definition of work, not just what we do in our professional careers but also the ways that we improve ourselves, our communities, and our world. Interviews with queer and trans organizers, health justice activists, martial artists, and more are included, accompanied by Rose’s beautiful and expressive illustrations.

Gender Queer

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (author) and Phoebe Kobabe (colorist). Both a memoir and an introduction to eir family and readers on what it means to be non-binary, Kobabe (e/em/eir pronouns) chronicles eir journey of self-identity. Kobabe’s touching and honest story is a useful guide on gender identity for everyone.

Heartstopper

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. Begun as a serial webcomic in 2016, Heartstopper, available now in two printed volumes, introduces readers to Charlie and Nick who meet and develop a friendship at a British all-boys grammar school. The friendship grows into love. Optioned by Netflix,  Heartstopper is slated for live-action adaptation in the near future.

These influential and impactful works are among the hundreds of titles in the Lilly Graphic Novel Collection, located in the first floor Carpenter Room.

Lilly Collection Spotlight: Películas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrate Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana!

Honoring Hispanic Heritage – Explore our film collections

What is a película? A film or movie

Lilly Library presents a sampling of films in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. Creative members of this community include actors, directors, and screenwriters, represented in the vast array of films in the Duke Libraries collections. Lilly shines its spotlight on just a few of our many documentaries, dramas, and animated films to illuminate the perspective of this vibrant and vital community.

Documentaries

  • Dolores Lilly DVD 31366
    Activist Dolores Huerta
    Dolores Lilly DVD 31366

    Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century–and she continues to fight to this day, at 87.

  • Symbols of Resistance Stream with Duke NetID
    This documentary illuminates the untold stories of the Chican@ Movement with a focus on events in Colorado and New Mexico. Through interviews with those who shaped the movement and rare historical footage, the film opens a window into a dynamic moment in history and movement building.

Feature Films – Drama and Human Interest

  • Maria Full of Grace Lilly DVD 3895 or
    Stream with Duke NetID

    Lilly DVD 3895 and Streaming

    Maria, a poor Columbian teenager, is desperate to leave a soul-crushing job. She accepts an offer to transport packets of heroin – which she swallows – to the United States. The ruthless world of drug trafficking proves to be more than she bargained for.

  • A Boy Called Sailboat Lilly DVD 33374
    In a slanted dwelling beyond the outskirts of a drought-ridden town, a close Hispanic family accepts an impossible blessing and name their only son Sailboat. Sailboat stirs new love and hope in his family as they forge a simple but proud life in the American Southwest.
  • La Misma Luna / Under The Same Moon Lilly DVD 12186 or Stream with Duke NetID
    This film follows the parallel stories of nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother, Rosario. In the hopes of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. In Mexico, her mother cares for Carlitos.
  • Mosquita y Mari Lilly DVD 24518 or Stream with Duke NetID
    Lilly DVD 24518 Mosquita & Mari

    This film is an exquisitely crafted coming of age tale following a pair of Latina teens who fall gradually in love against the backdrop of East L.A.

  • Real Women Have Curves Lilly DVD 2281
    Should she leave home, go to college and experience life? Or stay home, get married, and keep working in her sister’s struggling garment factory? It may seem an easy decision, but for 18-year-old Mexican-American Ana, every choice she makes this summer will change her life.

Animated Films

  • Coco Lilly 31094
    Lilly DVD 31094 and Ford 7776

    Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

  • The Book Of Life Lilly DVD 27605 and Ford 6902 or Stream with Duke NetID
    Embark on a journey with Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart.

Many more films by, and about, the Hispanic and Latinx communities can be found in the Duke University Libraries collections. Honor and celebrate Hispanic and Latinx themes all year long and continue your exploration through our collections.

Witness to Guantanamo Interviews Now Online

Post by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Screenshot of a video interview with Mourad Benchellali, a French national who was detained in Guantanamo from January 2002 until July 2004, when he was returned to France. One of 153 interviews now available in the Witness to Guantanamo Digital Collection.

As the nation prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Duke University Libraries are excited to announce the launch of the Witness to Guantanamo Digital Collection. Witness to Guantanamo includes 153 video interviews with former detainees and other individuals—attorneys, chaplains, guards, interrogators, interpreters, government officials, human rights advocates, medical personnel, and journalists—who witnessed the impact of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in the post-9/11 years. An additional 346 short clips from the full-length interviews are also included. English language interviews are accompanied by transcripts, and we are working to transcribe those in other languages as well.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, became the site of the detention center for suspected al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Peter Jan Honigsberg, professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, began Witness to Guantanamo (WtG) in fall 2008, after realizing that no one was collecting and preserving the voices and stories of “Gitmo.” He modelled the project after grassroots truth commissions and the Shoah Foundation’s collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. Professor Honigsberg’s book, A Place Outside the Law: Forgotten Voices from Guantanamo, narrates many of the extraordinary, powerful, and rare stories he filmed over the course of a decade and across 20 countries. His book is a tribute to the humanity we all share.

The full set of interviews are now archived at the Rubenstein Library’s Human Rights Archive and available through the digital repository. Witness to Guantanamo is unique. No one else has done this work. While there are many collections and projects dispersed around the world containing documents, case files, and data about Guantanamo and the U.S. War on Terror, WtG is the only collection that foregrounds the voices of the individuals detained there and whose lives were forever changed by the experience. The video interviews cover a wide range of topics, including physical and psychological torture, lawlessness, religious faith, medical care, interrogations, interminable detentions without charges, sham hearings, women at Guantanamo, and acts of courage.

In one interview, former detainee Mourad Benchellali reflects on his efforts to turn his imprisonment from 2002 to 2004 into something positive, in the hope that by hearing his story, young people will not join ISIS or participate in suicide attacks. “I simply tell them my story, telling them, ‘This is what I found out. This is what I saw in Afghanistan,’” Benchellali says. “I tell them about being tortured. I tell them about bombings. I tell them how groups enlist you… I tell them all of this, and I say, ‘Be careful, here are the dangers you may run into over there, as I did. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you, but you have to decide for yourself.’”

In another interview, detainee attorney Alkha Pradhan discusses the process of trying to defend her client, Ammar al Baluchi. At one point in her interview, she reflects on how the CIA deployed its classification policy to control her client: “You know, even though these are his memories, these are his experiences, the government continues to classify them and continues to prevent him from being able to tell the world about them… by virtue of being him, by virtue of being again, brown, non-citizen, Muslim detainee in the CIA system, everything he says is classified. Everything he thinks is classified.”

These first-hand testimonies reveal the physical, emotional, and political scars inflicted by Guantanamo. They also underscore how the treatment of detainees and the use of extra-legal procedures hobbled rather than enabled the rule of law and the quest for truth and justice. They are an invaluable resource for students, scholars, and people around the world to reflect on the path taken by the U.S. in the years following 9/11. The Human Rights Archive is planning an exhibit based on the Witness to Guantanamo collection for January 2022 at the Power Plant Gallery in downtown Durham to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the first detainees arriving at Guantanamo in 2002. More information about the exhibit will be coming soon.

Collecting for Global Diversity, Part 5

The fifth post in the blog series on the role of international collections and their collectors in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion was contributed by Ernest Zitser, Ph.D, Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies, International & Area Studies (IAS) Department, Duke University Libraries (DUL), Library Liaison to the International Comparative Studies Program, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, Duke University.

We are all still processing the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who murdered George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, exactly one year ago.  Each of us is looking for ways to deal with the situation as best we can.  From the very beginning, my thoughts have latched on to the uncanny coincidence that the 21st-century American police officer shares the same surname as the 19th-century Napoleonic French soldier for whom “chauvinism”—the prejudiced support for one’s own cause, group, or sex—is named.

As one of the editors of the IAS blog series on equity, diversity, and inclusion in international area studies collecting, I have also been thinking about what Duke’s research librarians, in our official capacity as tillers in the grove of academe, can do to help bring about positive social change.  That line of thought has led me to focus on the similarities between two individuals who, at first glance, appear to have very little in common, but whose life’s work speaks precisely to the issues that we have been discussing in our blog posts: Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) and Pauli Murray (1910-1985).

Raphael Lemkin and Pauli Murray
Photos courtesy: US Holocaust Memorial Museum and The Legacy Project

Both the Polish-Jewish international human rights activist and the African-American civil rights leader were trained as lawyers.  Both arrived in Durham due to circumstances beyond their control: Lemkin as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, thanks to his American friend and colleague, Professor Malcolm McDermott, of Duke University’s Law School; Murray as an orphaned child, who was taken in by her maternal grandparents and aunt at the age of three.

Despite their intellectual gifts and academic accomplishments, both Lemkin and Murray had a complicated relationship to North Carolina’s elite educational institutions. Lemkin spent fourteen months at Duke University in 1941-1942, but was never allowed to teach in the Law School of this predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon, Methodist establishment, partly because this “white crow” could never successfully pass himself off as a full-blooded “Pole”—the citizen of a freedom-loving “republic” endangered by the forces of “totalitarianism”—rather than as just another refugee Jewish scholar.

Similarly, Murray applied and was denied entry to a Ph.D. program at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1938, not only because she was African American and, as such, proscribed by Jim Crow legislation from attending any public school that was not segregated by race; but also, if perhaps less obviously, because she lived as a (genderqueer) woman in a heteronormative, patriarchal society governed by the (un)written codes of what she later described as “Jane Crow.”

One of the qualities that makes Lemkin and Murray such extraordinary individuals is that they did not meekly accept the status quo but, rather, successfully used their unique skill sets to push back against the laws and attitudes that sought to marginalize them.  They did so in part by authoring books that changed the world. Lemkin’s Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (1944)—available in both print and electronic versions at  DUL—coined the term “genocide,” provided some of the legal argumentation for the trials of Nazi war criminals at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg (1945-1949), and ultimately became the basis for the United Nations’ “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” (1951).

Murray’s States’ Laws on Race and Color and Appendices: Containing International Documents, Federal Laws and Regulations, Local Ordinances and Charts (1950), also available in multiple copies at DUL, documented the injustice of the Jim Crow South, provided the legal reasoning for the team of lawyers that successfully argued the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and became, in the words of Thurgood Marshall (one of the members of that team, who went on to serve as the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States), the “Bible” of American civil rights litigators.

Despite their different backgrounds, both lawyers adopted a similar approach to the primary sources that served as the basis of their landmark scholarly publications. During his brief stay at Duke, Lemkin worked on compiling, translating, and contextualizing the racially based legislation imposed on the formerly free citizens of the European countries conquered at the start of World War II by Nazi Germany and its allies.

His analysis of German-language gazettes published by Nazi military governments—an impressive collection of which is available at DUL—demonstrated the existence, and deliberate implementation, of a formally legal, but (Lemkin argued) internationally criminal set of laws meant to expropriate, exploit, and, ultimately, exterminate an entire group of people (Jews) whom the Nazi’s defined as a subhuman “race.”

Similarly, Murray’s groundbreaking research boldly tackled the racially based legislation imposed on the formerly enslaved and only recently enfranchised citizens of the United States—including in her adopted home state of North Carolina—by the democratically elected representatives of the American people.

Her analysis demonstrated that from the very beginning of the post-Civil War “Era of Reconstruction,” the freely elected leaders of the formally democratic and egalitarian republic imposed a set of discriminatory laws explicitly designed to deprive African-American citizens of their constitutional rights, to institutionalize racial segregation, and to terrorize this racialized minority into submission to white supremacy.

The political significance of the works penned by Lemkin and Murray cannot be overstated, especially during the turbulent times in which we presently find ourselves.  In their professional yet impassioned writings, these two legal scholars showed that, regardless of whether it resulted from military conquest or the democratic electoral process, a racist legal system was ultimately based on the threat (and frequent application) of violence against the bodies and psyches of the members of the outcast group, rather than on the principles dictated by ethical conceptions of equity and human rights.  Furthermore, by their personal commitment to the cause of social justice, they demonstrated that scholarship was not divorced from real life and that “ivory-tower” academics had as much to contribute to positive change “out there” in the world as full-time political activists.  It is for this reason, as much as for their books, that Lemkin and Murray have become revered role models of the international movement for the rights of everyone—regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation—who has ever experienced the toxic effects of chauvinism.

From the perspective of academic librarians, the lives and works of Lemkin and Murray demonstrate the vital importance of our mission to collect, preserve, and curate the research material that serves as the basis of paradigm-changing scholarship. Neither Lemkin nor Murray could have done the research that informed their arguments were it not for the law books—both foreign and domestic—that were purchased and made accessible to these avid users of academic research libraries.  At Duke, this type of collecting for diversity continues, not only in the Goodson Law Library, but also in the other repositories that make up the university library system.

One prominent example of this collecting focus is provided by the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, which curates SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn From the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work, a collaborative project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and the Duke University Libraries.

Another example is the work of the library’s Human Rights Archive, which “partners with the human rights community to preserve the history and legacy of human rights around the world.”  Even a brief look at the Archive’s online guide, which now includes a link to a guide about Raphael Lemkin at Duke, demonstrates that collecting and curating materials on international movements for political, socio-economic, and racial justice is an important component of how Duke libraries seeks to support the university’s mission of fostering the kind of transformative scholarship that is exemplified by the works of Lemkin and Murray.

Like these other library units, the International and Area Studies department has eagerly taken up the challenge of creating a “supportive environment for research, learning, and academic community” and  “strengthening Duke’s capacity to address global challenges for communities across the world” (the third and fourth goals of the University’s academic strategic plan).  The international and area studies collections built and curated by IAS staff demonstrate that racialized judicial systems and the violence that they generate are located all over the globe and characterize all kinds of polities.  Ascribed definitions of social identity, the legal mechanisms that enforce them, and the civil rights activism that is required to reform systems of institutionalized discrimination and oppression are not the monopoly of any one country or political party.  Unfortunately, the contemporary United States is not the only place in the world to demonstrate the ease and rapidity with which conspiracy-minded, populist demagogues and their supporters (both in and out of the halls of power), can stoke the fears of an already-anxious electorate of formally democratic countries and channel these feelings into legalized expressions of xenophobia, discrimination, and violence.

The books on post-Communist Russia and eastern Europe that I collect, for example, offer plenty of evidence for the proposition that it doesn’t take much for the judicial system of a formally democratic country to fall into the clutches of a corrupt, conservative, political party bent on undermining the rule of law and institutionalizing policies that trample on the human rights of racial, religious, and sexual minorities.  These contemporary case studies also demonstrate the important role that concerned individuals, domestic civil rights groups, and international organizations play in holding oppressive and illiberal regimes accountable for their actions.  In so doing, the materials in Duke’s Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies collection not only inform students about international developments or provide scholars with the qualitative and quantitative data needed to conduct robust comparative and cross-cultural studies.  They also acquaint political activists with potential partners in the global struggle against all forms of oppression and provide strategies for pursuing a viable, international, human rights agenda.

Today, on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we still do not know whether Chauvin’s conviction is a milestone in the process of dismantling a racially based caste system that undergirds carceral capitalism in the age of surveillance or merely an exception that proves the rule.  What we do know is that the outcome depends on what we—all of us—do to ensure that chauvinism never trumps the rule of law.

Like other members of the Duke community, the university’s academic librarians are committed to supporting anti-racist scholarship, leadership, and service. As citizens of both the American republic and the international republic of letters, we also have the opportunity and the means (despite straitened circumstances) to make a difference on both the local and the global levels.  That is why I am so confident that the research materials strategically selected by Duke University’s archivists, curators, and international area studies librarians will make it possible for a new generation of Lemkins and Murrays to publish paradigm-shifting books that will help us to imagine, and work towards realizing, a more humane, equitable, and just world.

Honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

Explore films from the Duke Libraries to educate yourself about the significant contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to U.S. culture, and as a reminder of ongoing challenges they face, along with the anti-racist work that we have yet to do.


Directed by Celine Parreñas Shimizu, 2021

The Celine Archive  
Streaming video – Duke netid/password required
The Celine Archive is simultaneously an act of journalism, a journey into family and community memory and archives, a love poem, a story of grief and trauma, and a séance for the buried history of Filipino-Americans. Filmmaker and scholar Celine Parreñas Shimizu artfully weaves together her own story of grief with the story of the tragic death of Celine Navarro, which has become lore. In 1932, Navarro was buried alive by her own community of Filipino-Americans in Northern California, but the circumstances surrounding her death were and are unclear and have oft been spun, sensationalized, and dramatized. The filmmaker, a grieving mother with ties to the same community, finds resonance with Navarro’s memory and long-lost story, and she sets out to first learn — and then tell — the truth about Navarro’s death, ultimately portraying her as a feminist heroine.

PBS, 2020

Asian Americans
Lilly DVD 33607 | Streaming video –
Duke netid/password required
Asian Americans
is a five-hour film PBS series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

 

PBS, 2018

The Chinese Exclusion Act
DVD 31536 | Streaming video – Duke netid/password required
This American Experience documentary examines the origin, history and impact of the 1882 law that made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America and for Chinese nationals already here ever to become U.S. citizens. The first in a long line of acts targeting the Chinese for exclusion, it remained in force for more than 60 years.

 

dir. by Puhipau and Joan Lander, 2005

Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege 
Streaming video – Duke netid/password required
Inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for 2020Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege paints a portrait of a mountain that has become a symbol of the Hawaiian struggle for physical, cultural and political survival. The program explores conflicting forces as they play themselves out in a contemporary island society where cultures collide daily. In an effort to find commonalities among indigenous people elsewhere regarding sacred mountains, the documentary visits Apache elders of Arizona who face the reality of telescope development on their revered mountain, Dzil Nchaa Si An, known as Mt. Graham.

 

directed by Renee Tajima-Peña, 1996


My America, or Honk if you Love Buddha
Lilly DVD 33771
The director of Who Killed Vincent Chin?  takes to the road to see what it means to be Asian American in our rapidly-changing society.

Directed by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima, 1990

 

Who Killed Vincent Chin?
Lilly DVD 28025  |   Streaming video –  Duke netid/password required
This Academy-Award nominated film is a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. It relates the stark facts of Vincent Chin’s brutal murder. Outrage filled the Asian-American community, after his accused murderer received a suspended sentence and a small fine, to the point where they organized an unprecedented civil rights protest. His bereaved mother, brought up to be self-effacing, successfully led a nationwide crusade for a retrial. This tragic story is interwoven with the whole fabric of timely social concerns. It addresses issues such as the failure of our judicial system to value every citizen’s rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue collar worker.

Asian and Asian American Film

Looking for Feature Films and more?

Lilly Library’s collection of feature films about Asian American and Pacific Islanders is rich and deep! Classic films, romantic comedies, family dramas, etc., created by Asians and Asian Americans are available to entertain and inspire you.

Discover the Duke Libraries’ collection of DVDs and streaming video platforms to watch Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell, Joy Luck Club , The Namesake and Minari along with a host of other great movies.

Streaming Access available via Duke netid/password.

DivE-In Encourages You to Take 5

Guest post by Ciara Healy, Librarian for Psychology & Neuroscience, Mathematics, and Physics

Every month, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DivE-In) of the Duke University Libraries recommends five free activities, programs, and educational opportunities that address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. For more about diversity initiatives at the Duke University Libraries, visit our website.


1. 2021 Cinematic Arts Student Film Showcase
May 1-15, 2021

Free and open to the public via YouTube. You can vote for best picture! After viewing the entire program, please vote for the 2021 Audience Choice Award winner in the survey linked below: https://tinyurl.com/2021AudienceChoic… Survey password: audience2021vote. Roll out your own red carpet, dress fancy, sit in your limo, wait for a long time and complain about how your fancy outfit is itchy.

2. Ruangrupa at 20-22 The Ongoing Biennial
May 5, 1:00 p.m. EST

A weekly conversation cycle with international curators, facilitated by FHI Social Practice Lab Director Pedro Lasch. “The first year of the public program will focus on short online dialogues with individual guests. Our one hour long remote events will begin with a casual interview, focusing on the particular trajectory and ideas of each guest in the series, followed by comments from a respondent and questions from the audience.” Registration required.

3. “The Palgrave Handbook of Islam in Africa” Book Launch Conference
May 14, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST

“This handbook generates new insights that enrich our understanding of the history of Islam in Africa and the diverse experiences and expressions of the faith on the continent. The chapters in the volume cover key themes that reflect the preoccupations and realities of many African Muslims.” Registration required.

4. Film Trip: How Documentaries Build Bridges to a Larger World
Begins May 12 and runs through May 19

Use this link to access the registration page via the Center for Documentary Studies. Register for particular events or the whole series. Please note that this is an ongoing series and there are earlier Teach the Teacher sessions available to view now. No need to recreate your Film Showcase routine. Stay humble.

5. Virtues & Vocations Presents Nicki Washington
May 25, 1:00 p.m. EST

Why should Computer Science care about identity? Come find out. Registration required.

Collecting for Global Diversity, Part 4

The fourth post in the blog series on the role of international collections and their collectors in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion was contributed by Luo Zhou, Chinese Studies Librarian, International and Area Studies Department, Duke University Libraries.

Collecting for global diversity is more than a matter of identifying, locating, and acquiring distinctive, international and area studies materials for Duke University Libraries (DUL).  In order for these resources to be useful to students and researchers, foreign language materials must also be described and organized in a way that makes them comprehensible, accessible, and discoverable. Librarians from the International and Area Studies (IAS) Department collaborate closely with the catalogers, archivists, and metadata specialists in our Technical Services (TS) Department in order to make that happen as smoothly and efficiently as possible with finite financial and human resources at DUL’s disposal.

As the following description of the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating multilingual metadata for the digital collection of Sidney D. Gamble Photographs demonstrates, cataloging international materials poses not only a technical and linguistic challenge, but also an intellectual and ethical one. That is because the act of translation—in this case, from one format type (analog/digital) and language (English/Chinese) to another—requires the active intervention of a diverse group of library staff with both the subject expertise and the cultural literacy to provide just the right description at just the right time.

The collection of 4,700 black-and-white photographs and 600 hand-colored lantern slides amassed by the prominent Sinologist, sociologist, and amateur photographer Sidney D. Gamble (1890-1968) depicts pre-revolutionary China’s urban and rural life, public events, architecture, religious statuary, and the countryside in the 1920s and 1930s. Over the course of his long and illustrious academic career, Gamble published seven books on China and always used his photographs to supplement his narrative. He even created an index of roll numbers, exposure numbers, and brief captions, which usually included the place names and subjects depicted in his photos. This index functioned, in effect, as the analog version of the initial metadata that was used to describe the digitized version of Gamble’s photos.  But, as I will demonstrate below, this was only the beginning of the process of cataloging, contextualizing, and providing access to the images in the Gamble digital collection.

As Duke’s subject specialist on China, I started working on the black-and-white images in early 2008, when the Gamble collection first arrived at DUL’s Rare Book and Special Collections (now Rubenstein) Library. The original nitrate negatives had just been digitized and placed in cold storage, to preserve them in perpetuity. Gamble’s own handwritten and typed captions, which were digitized alongside these fragile negatives, were transformed into raw text using optical character recognition (OCR) software. The digital version of Gamble’s captions thus became the foundation for the image captions and geographic headings of the Gamble digital collection as a whole. The collection was published on the DUL website in fall 2008 and immediately attracted the attention of researchers worldwide. The hand-colored lantern slides were digitized and added to the digital collection in 2014. Another photo album, containing 170 images of Gamble’s first China trip with his family, was the latest item digitized and added to the database in 2019. The Gamble digital collection that now resides on DUL’s website and servers, therefore, is a careful compilation and comprehensive presentation of all his photographs and slides together with metadata in four different languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Creating bilingual geographic headings in English and Chinese

In 2008, the expert staff in DUL’s Technical Services department extracted out of the raw text from the digitized image labels a list of all toponyms (proper names of places) identified by Gamble. Removing the duplicates left a list of roughly 1,000 alphabetically organized entries for me to work on.  That is, I took on the task of adding the Romanized form of Chinese characters—a system of transliteration known as Pinyin—to these place names. After going through the spreadsheet and identifying (and excluding) duplicates, I was able to reduce the total list to about 500 relatively unique geographic place names.

Next, I grouped these Chinese place names into three general categories.  The first category consisted of the proper names of well-known and popular places that foreigners regularly visited in early twentieth century China. Gamble’s spellings of these place names—such as Hangchow (for Hangzhou 杭州) and Beijing’s Lama Temple (for Yonghegong 雍和宫)—relied on an earlier, popular, Romanization form of Chinese characters (known as Wade-Giles) and was relatively easy to identify for anyone familiar with the history of the transliteration systems used in the field of Chinese studies. The second, and much smaller group of Chinese toponyms, consisted of photographs depicting locations in neighboring Russia, Japan, and Korea; places with general, descriptive titles (“On the Sea”); and those that lacked any identifying information. The geographical heading assigned to this group usually just referred to the names of the countries that Gamble had visited on his various trips to Asia. The third, and most challenging, group consisted of toponyms for remote or lesser-known locations, as well as those known by a different geographical name than the one in use today. Gamble’s Romanization of these place names was inconsistent and often did not use the standard systems available to him. In fact, many of the geographical names in the last group could not properly identified until a year or two after Gamble’s photos arrived at Duke, sometime in 2009 or 2010, when I was able to do additional archival research about Gamble’s trips and his work in China. And a few were identified more than six years after the database was published when a Chinese blogger provided a clue.

Initially the digitized images and the typed image labels resided in separate locations on the DUL server. Since these items were not yet linked to each other in the database, it was impossible to compare Gamble’s photographs with the captions and geographic locations that supposedly described them. Luckily, after inspecting the physical materials, I realized that Gamble filed his negatives with roll number and exposure number in the order of his visits to different places. By arranging the photos by their roll numbers, I was able to reconstruct his trips in sequence. Inspecting the physical collection also led me to conclude that Gamble used two different photo cameras, which he called “Camera A” and “Camera B.”  The negatives of the photos produced by these cameras have roll numbers from 2A to 95A and from 1B to 77B. Later Gamble relied primarily on Camera A, so we have roll numbers from 96 to 663, which actually are 96A to 663A.

To give you an example of how I used these archival discoveries to improve the metadata for the Chinese place names used by Gamble, let’s examine the images in rolls from 2A to 95A and from 1B to 36B, which cover the places Gamble visited from May to October in 1917, when he arrived at Shanghai, before travelling up the Yangtze River into Sichuan (四川) Province. Since most of the photos from this trip were taken in Sichuan Province, the place name that Gamble assigned to Image 1 (Fu Chou in roll 21A) must be located somewhere in Sichuan, despite the fact that this place name also sounds very similar to FooChow (Fuzhou 福州), a city in Fujian (福建), which is an entirely different province. So it is reasonable to conclude that Gamble’s designation (Fu Chou) actually refers to Fuzhou (涪州), which later came to be called Fuling (涪陵), a city famous for its pickles (榨菜). In order to make this location more discoverable in the digital collection, the metadata for this geographic place name now includes both its modern name (Fuling) and its old name (Fuzhou).

To take another, somewhat more complicated example, let’s inspect the toponyms that Gamble assigned to the photo of the walking “spinner” (Image 2). This label confusingly refers to two different place names: Li Fan and Tsa Ka Lo. However, since this photo comes from roll B22, these places must also be located in Sichuan Province. Li Fan is clearly a reference to Lifan County (Lifan Xian 理番县), which changed its name to Li County (Li Xian 理县) in 1945. The County is in today’s Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (阿坝藏族羌族自治州). The Chinese character 番 means “foreign tribe” while 理 means “to manage.”  People living in this region are mainly Tibetans and Qiangs, plus some Hui and Han Chinese. In the eighteenth century, Qianlong Emperor appointed rotating officials to rule this region as a way of incorporating minority groups living on the frontiers of the Qing Empire. The Chinese character for “foreign tribe” (番) was removed from the county name during the Republican era (1912-1949) because of its derogatory connotation, suggesting that the residents of this region were not Han Chinese. The county government sits at Zagunao Town (杂谷脑镇), which comes from Tibetan phrase for “land of good fortune,” as heard and spelled by the Han Chinese. It is not difficult to match Zagunao with Tsa Ka Lo, Gamble’s Romanization of the Chinese place name. The metadata for this place now includes both the old and the modern names (in Pinyin and Chinese characters), which makes it easier for users of this digital collection to match the image with other, textual sources.

Locating the actual place name for Gamble’s “So Village” presented a somewhat different challenge. That name appears on 85 photographs in rolls from both Camera A (44A to 51A) and Camera B (17B to 19B).  Judging by its location in the sequence of photographs, this village must also have been located in Sichuan Province, most likely somewhere in the triangle region formed by Mao County (茂县), Wenchuan County (汶川县) and Li County (理县).  Since there are also at least three different Chinese words for “village”—cun (村), zhuang (庄) or zhai (寨)—locating it in one of these counties required figuring out what Gamble meant by the word “So.”  My initial guess, which was based on the assumption that “So” referred to the name of the honored ancestor of one of the more prominent families in this village, led me to suggest that Gamble’s “So Village” was really called either Suo Cun (索村) or Su Cun (苏村).  Unfortunately, neither place name was found in that geographical area.

The actual name and location of Gamble’s “So Village” remained a mystery until a researcher in Sichuan brought my attention to a blog post from China in 2014. According to the Chinese blogger, the name of this agricultural settlement was the Village of Suo Chieftain (Suo Tusi 索土司), called Wasi Tusi Guanzhai (瓦寺土司官寨). With this hint, I went through DUL’s copy of the local gazetteer for the counties of Mao and Wenchuan and confirmed the blogger’s findings. The village of So is located in Wenchuan County and is populated mainly by Rgyalrong Tibetans, who moved to this part of China a very long time ago. Rgyalrong Tibetans believe that they are the descendants of the mythological “Great Peng Bird” (Dapengniao, 大鹏鸟) and therefore use a bird as their totem. Interestingly, one of Gamble’s photos (Image 3) shows a guardian statue on top of a gateway: it has a bird’s head and a human’s body and is holding a snake in its hands. This image from the Gamble collection matches the description of the village entrance in a local gazetteer published in 1997. And so, now, the metadata for “So Village” has been updated to read: Wasi Tusi Guanzhai (瓦寺土司官寨), located in Miansi Town (绵虒镇) of Wenchaung County (汶川县).

Adding Metadata, Adding Value

As these three examples suggest, identifying and assigning accurate geographical descriptions to the photos in DUL’s Gamble digital collection is as much an art as a science.  Usually, it depends on a knowledge of the language and history of China and a good bit of research.  But, sometimes, all you need is a helpful hint from a user located on the other side of the globe.  The fact that the blog post about the contemporary name of “So Village” would never have been brought to my attention if the digital collection did not include Chinese language metadata only serves to confirm the importance of creating bilingual geographic headings for digital collections of non-English materials.

The “added value” of revising metadata cannot be put into strictly monetary terms; nor can it always be counted, like the number of clicks on a webpage.  The value of including bilingual geographic headings, for example, is not merely a matter of convenience, i.e. the fact that it allows researchers who may be familiar with only one place name to identify all the photographs in the Gamble collection that are associated with this toponym. Revision of metadata also makes it possible to uncover the existence of suppressed, unknown, or undocumented subjects in DUL’s image collections (such as the Han Chinese of Zagunao and the Rgyalrong Tibetans of Wasi Tusi Guanzhai). But its true value lies in the intention to establish a meaningful connection between the international and area studies materials collected by DUL’s subject specialists and the researchers who use them, irrespective of where these researchers happen to live, what religion they practice, and what language they speak.  And it is precisely because of DUL’s commitment to such cosmopolitan values that the geographical headings in the Gamble digital collection will continue to be updated and revised as new research findings come out.

Lilly Collection Spotlight: Films to Help Fortify and Fight Back

April 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). To commemorate the anniversary, we’re highlighting powerful films in Lilly Library’s collection that illuminate and interrogate this urgent, essential issue.

scene from documentary film, "On the Record"
On the Record (2020, dirs. Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering)

On the Record (2020, dirs. Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering)
streaming video | Duke netid/password required
On the Record presents the haunting story of former A&R executive Drew Dixon, whose career and personal life were upended by the alleged abuse she faced from her high-profile male bosses. The documentary follows Dixon as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color, in the wake of #MeToo, to come forward to publicly accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct.

film still from "Primas"
Primas (2018, dir. Laura Bari)

Primas (2018, dir. Laura Bari) Lilly DVD 32294
Primas
is an evocative and poetic portrait of two Argentine teenage cousins who come of age together as they overcome the heinous acts of violence that interrupted their childhoods.

Image from documentary film, "The Bystander Moment"
The Bystander Moment (2018, dir. Jackson Katz)

The Bystander Moment: Transforming Rape Culture  at its Roots  (2018, dir. Jeremy Earp)
streaming video | Duke netid/password required
The #MeToo movement has shined much-needed light on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and abuse and created unprecedented demand for gender violence prevention models that actually work. The Bystander Moment tells the story of one of the most prominent and proven of these models – the innovative bystander approach developed by pioneering scholar and activist Jackson Katz and his colleagues at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society in the 1990s. Check out this and other films on gender violence prevention in the Media Education Foundation collection. 

Graphic from "Breaking Silence: a Film"
Breaking Silence: a Film (2017, dir. Nadya Ali)

Breaking Silence: a Film (2017, dir. Nadya Ali) Lilly DVD 31056
In Breaking Silence: a Film, Three Muslim women share their stories of sexual assault–and, in a deeply personal way, they challenge the stigma that has long suppressed the voice of survivors. Throughout America, many Muslim communities persist in stigmatizing all discussion of sex-related subjects. This documentary takes a radical and humanizing approach to the emotional scars of sexual assault, giving women the space to share their voices without shame.

Film still from "Sisters Rising"
Sisters Rising (2020, dirs. Willow O’Feral & Brack Heck)

And coming soon to Lilly’s film collection: SISTERS RISING, a powerful feature documentary about six Native American women reclaiming personal and tribal sovereignty. Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault than all other American women, federal studies have shown, with one in three Native women reporting having been raped during her lifetime. Their stories shine an unflinching light on righting injustice on both an individual and systemic level.

Collecting for Global Diversity, Part 3

The third post in the blog series on the role of international collections and their collectors in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion was contributed by Heidi Madden, Ph.D., Librarian for Western European and Medieval Renaissance Studies, International and Area Studies Department, Duke University Libraries.

Muslims represented around 5% of the total European Union (EU) population in 2016, and according to the World Fact Book, the highest numbers of Europe’s Muslims reside in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The influx of refugees fleeing conflicts in the predominantly Muslim countries of the Middle East (and parts of Africa) and seeking asylum in the EU has prompted heated debates about immigration, social integration, security policies, and religious freedom. In response to these debates, governments in several different EU countries have passed legislation restricting religious expression in public places (especially schools) in an effort to maintain a strict separation between church and state and to foster religious pluralism without creating civil strife.

The headscarf (Arabic: حجاب‎ ḥijāb, “cover, wrap, curtain, veil, screen, partition”‎) traditionally worn by some Muslim women in the presence of people outside of their immediate family, has received negative attention in these debates because it is seen as a visible signifier of religious identity. The first major controversy about women wearing Islamic headscarves occurred in France, in 1989, when three female students were suspended from school for refusing to remove their head scarfs (the media coverage at the time can be followed in our French newspaper database Eureka). This incident sparked controversy about the extent to which government legislation should be used for negotiating culture clashes. In the end, France passed a law in 2004 banning ostentatious religious clothing or objects in public schools, including the Islamic head scarf, the Jewish brimless cap (Hebrew: כִּיפָּה, kippah, “dome”), and large Christian crosses.  Since then, several European Union countries introduced similar legislation. A 2017 European Commission report on “Religious Clothing and Symbols in Employment,” authored by members of the European Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination and freely-available on the website of the Publications Office of the European Union, describes the chronology in greater detail.

It is within, and in response, to this polarized political context that Ayşe Taşci (b. 1983), a Turkish-born (Aydin, Turkey), German-based (in Bonn since 2003) photographer organized ÇAPRAŞIK – Verwickelt, a well-received exhibit of contemporary photographs featuring ḥijāb-wearing women.

Source: Ayşe Taşci, Çapraşik–Verwickelt (Bonn, 2010)

The exhibit, which took place in 2010, asked the viewers to question how they look at a woman in a Muslim headscarf and what they see when they do so. The rich, multilayered meaning of the hyphenated exhibition title, which employed both the Turkish word çapraşık and the German word Verwickelt, explicitly evoked the sense of being tangled, wrapped-up, complicated, knotted, complicit, and involved. These are the perfect words to describe the questions raised by Taşci’s photo exhibit. What is the relationship between veiling and unveiling? Does the wearer of a ḥijāb  hide or reveal her (religious, cultural, gendered) identity? Is the Muslim headscarf oppressive or emancipatory? How does a photographer represent the woman who wears a ḥijāb ? And how does photography itself veil, unveil, or stage the identity of women wearing a head covering?

Source: Ayşe Taşci, Çapraşik–Verwickelt (Bonn, 2010)

For example, what happens to viewer’s expectations when a photographer chooses to represent an ordinary woman’s wig as a headscarf? In Turkey, until 2013, wearing the veil at university, and other places, was prohibited. In order to get around this law, Turkish women would wear a headscarf over their hair and then put a wig over the headscarf. Would the act of photographing this kind of life-hack advance or hinder women’s participation in the public sphere?

Taşci’s exhibit helped visitors examine the complicated dynamic between their own unexamined, and often prejudiced, way of seeing the ḥijāb. Viewers also became aware of the often-unacknowledged power wielded by photographers, and the mass media in general, in creating positive or negative discourse through the mobilization of emotive images. By this means, the exhibit “entangled” the viewer and created “a space for open discourse, controversial debates and dialog between photography, art and people.”

The exhibit ÇAPRAŞIK – Verwickelt was based on Ayşe Taşcis master’s thesis at Folkwang University of the Arts (Essen, Germany), which was published in a very small print run at the beginning of her professional career. Professor Claudia Koonz, a noted European Studies expert at Duke University, who discovered the exhibit, suggested that the library purchase Taşci’s Diplomarbeit, because it is an evocative example of the kind of visual materials often used as primary sources, both in student term papers and in academic research publications. The acquisition of this primary visual source strengthens Duke University Libraries’ collection on Turkish-German relations, Islamophobia, gender, visual, and migration studies in Europe.  It also contributes to the pedagogical mission of the university by emphasizing visual literacy— an increasingly important skill of critical thinking and an essential component of a 21st-century education—potentially serving as the library’s counterpart to the visual materials in How Do You Look?, the online portal for the promotion of visual literacy hosted by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Just as importantly, the acquisition of this rare publication, which at the time of this writing is still held only by Duke University Libraries, allows us to see the Muslim experience in Europe from Taşcis unique perspective.  The book thus serves not only as a physical reminder of our commitment to building collections of distinction, but also to the broader mission of collecting for global diversity.

Readers who wish to see more photos from Ayşe Taşci’s exhibit on the ḥijāb are welcome to check out her book, which is located in the Lower Stacks (LL2) of the Perkins & Bostock Library on Duke’s West Campus.  You can also can consult the online article about ÇAPRAŞIK – Verwickelt on the German website Art à la Turka, which contains a number of evocative images from the exhibit.

Collecting for Global Diversity, Part 2

The second post in the IAS blog series on the role of international collections and their collectors in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion was contributed by Holly Ackerman, Head, International & Area Studies Dept. and Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino/a/x Studies.

The need to collaborate in collecting has risen swiftly on library agendas everywhere as a result of both the financial crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic and the simultaneous rise in concern about promoting and augmenting diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone is asking, “How can we collect and spotlight a wider range of voices, cultures, races, languages, genders, and cross-cutting themes even as our budgets stumble and fall?”

Here at Duke University Libraries, we are fortunate to participate in a long and healthy tradition of cooperation within the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), where the collaboration between Duke’s International and Area Studies Department (IAS) and UNC’s Global Resources and Area Studies Section (GRAS) is particularly vigorous. But other, lesser-known national projects have also steadily obtained unique, difficult-to-acquire, ethnically- and linguistically-diverse materials. One of these, which I will describe in this blog post, is the Latin American & Caribbean Distributed Resources Project (DRP).

Coordination of DRP is located at the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago as part of their overall Global Resources Program and is now celebrating twenty-five years of systematically assuring deep collecting of culturally and linguistically diverse materials from the thirty-three countries in the region.

What is the Distributed Resources Project?

DRP is a pledge made by 35 university research libraries in 1995, to reallocate a portion of their collections budget for Latin America toward enhanced coverage of ‘non-core’ materials in order to collect more deeply in specific areas of institutional specialization. Each institution chose 1-3 subjects of particular strength at their university where other universities would have interest but probably lack funds to collect deeply. The project deliberately built on existing strengths, believing it would lead to long-range commitment. After 25 years it’s still working!

Chosen subjects included particular countries, geographic regions, or unique subjects such as the African Diaspora in Latin America (the U. of Wisconsin) or Indigenous Languages and Literature (Indiana University). Duke University initially chose to collect on Latin American & Caribbean Labor History and the struggles for justice that accompany labor organizing. In 2003, we added a second focus on Political Humor & Caricature.  Each institution began by diverting 7% of their overall budget for Latin American Studies to the selected resource area while relying on other institutions to pick up deep collecting in their chosen area. Each institution also pledged to rapidly process materials acquired by DRP so that they would be rapidly available to users everywhere via their institution’s interlibrary loan service.

Over time these small amounts have grown and in the last two annual reports (with only 25 of 35 members reporting) collective spending ranged from $400,000 to $500,000 per year. Over the life of the program, more than $10 million has been devoted to this deep collecting dive. Small initial steps have resulted in distinctive collections (in local languages) that are rapidly available, and, equally important, are known to Latin American Studies librarians everywhere.

How do we obtain the DRP materials?

First, you put on your walking shoes. I remember well walking the “miles of aisles” at Guadalajara, Mexico’s huge national book fair a few years ago, where hundreds of exhibitors offer limited-edition books in Spanish, Portuguese, and indigenous languages published throughout Latin America.

Guadalajara International Book Fair

Over 800,000 thousand people attend this fair annually. Schoolchildren from every part of Mexico are bused to the fair to encourage their interest in books and reading. The kids rub shoulders with world-class intellectuals who speak about their work. And, of course, Latin American Studies Librarians are there is such large numbers that they give us a couple of days before the fair opens to the public to be sure that the books make it into libraries throughout the world.

At each stand I routinely ask whether they have materials in our DRP collecting areas. One vendor pulled out a box that was not on display containing a series called The History of Graphic Humor (La historia del humor gráfico), in thirteen volumes, one on each major country in Latin America and Iberia. In order to feature local appreciation of humor in each country, the publisher engaged a well-known local historian of the subject as the author. The books contained history and illustrative examples of political satire and popular cartoons from colonial days to the present.

Three books from the series “The History of Graphic Humor = La historia del humor gráfico”

They had just one complete set at the fair and I got it. A great find for our deep collecting! Each year when students in Spanish and Latin American Studies courses ask me where they can find political cartoons and learn about the graphic artists, I see the value of that purchase. And those numbers are growing as more students include primary, graphic materials in their class presentations.

Another way to meet our DRP commitment is to couple conference attendance with book-buying. In 2018, I was able to participate in the annual Latin American Studies Association Congress in Barcelona, which is the publishing capital of Spain.  I extended my stay for a couple of days to go to over 20 specialized bookstores and publishing houses. Best known and unique among the bookstores is El Lokal, which is located in a section of town historically renowned as the site of labor-organizing and -protest. The district was the epicenter of resistance to the fascist Franco regime and you can feel history in those streets.

El Lokal Bookstore (Barcelona, Spain)

In a very small space, the book store carries a huge cross-section of Marxist, anarchist, Trotskyist and other leftist thought . And since El Lokal is also a publisher, the store is chock-full of books about everything related to the labor movement, from labor resistance in Spain to indigenous resistance to forced labor under Spanish colonization in what is today Latin America.

Two books on labor and indigenous resistance, published and sold in El Lokal Bookstore

In other words, this independent, specialized, local bookstore is a veritable treasure trove for a librarian tasked with finding and acquiring unique material on Iberian and Latin American labor history, politics, and theory. This sort of in-country “shopping” not only deepens our DRP collection but also saves money. Our regular Spanish book vendor worked with me to have all the books I selected (at a discount negotiated at each store in Barcelona) moved to their warehouse in Madrid and sent to Durham simply at the shipping cost. Those savings outstrip the cost of the book-buying trip itself.

These are just a couple of examples among many of how we in IAS cooperate with other libraries to be sure that collecting on unique and important subjects is systematically covered and not forgotten in hard times.

Dr. Deborah Jakubs, 2017, in conversation with Daniel Divinsky, founder and editor of the publishing house Ediciones de la Flor, on his radio program “Books Talk” at the University of Buenos Aires

The Duke University Libraries can also be proud of the fact that Deborah Jakubs, Ph.D. , Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian, Vice Provost for Library Affairs, and Duke’s former Latin American Librarian, was one of the founders of the Global Resources Program of which the DRP is a part. When asked how she and her colleagues came up with the idea for this exemplar of cooperative collection development she replied, “We were trying different ‘proof of concept’ approaches to sharing responsibility for collection building in area studies.” In difficult financial times such as the present, the DRP members have turned that proof of concept into a tradition assuring that diverse perspectives from Spain, Latin America, and the Caribbean will be represented in the distinctive holdings of Duke University Library and, thanks to interlibrary loan and resource-sharing arrangements with TRLN and the IvyPlus Libraries Confederation, in university research libraries throughout the United States.

Those wishing to read more about the Global Resources Projects on Latin America will want to consult the description offered by one of the founders of this initiative, the late Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Collection Development, Dan Hazen, “The Latin Americanist Research Resources Project: A New Direction for Monographic Cooperation?” ARL: A Bimonthly Newsletter of Research Library Issues and Actions (April 1997), pp. 1-6.

 

Collecting for Global Diversity

This prefatory blog post to a series exploring the role of international collections and their collectors in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion was contributed by Sean Swanick, Luo Zhou, and Ernest Zitser, respectively the Chinese, Middle Eastern & Islamic, and Russian, Eurasian, & East European studies librarians, in the International and Area Studies Department of Duke University Libraries.

One can think of the variegated research materials (foreign-language books, journals, databases, photographs, postcards, etc.) acquired by the staff of Duke University Library’s International and Area Studies (IAS) department in at least two ways.  For some, they are the relatively poorly-circulating counterparts of the bread-and-butter titles in a predominantly English-language, general collection. For others, they are a unique, difficult-to-acquire, distinct, and special collection (with a small “S”) in its own right. However, regardless of how they are described, their provenance, or their eventual location within the library (on- or off-site, general- or special collection), international materials serve as conduits of ideas and identities across linguistic boundaries and cultural barriers. In this way, international collections are both transgressive and transformative.

This diversity applies not only to the material resources that IAS librarians collect to further the research and teaching of international topics at Duke University, but also to the core mission, organization, and composition of the department itself.  Not surprisingly, IAS is structured by geography and seeks to represent as many different parts of the world as possible: Asia (inclusive of the Middle East, South & Southeast Asia), Eurasia (Russia and former Soviet countries), Eastern and Western Europe, Africa (northern and sub-Saharan), as well as Latin America & Iberia. Nor is it surprising that IAS librarians are as diverse, multi-lingual, and international as the collections that they curate.  Only two of IAS’ current eight members were born in the US. All the rest moved from their home countries to work here at Duke University Libraries. Regardless of their differences—ethnic, linguistic, or religious—they all serve as intermediaries between one culture and another.  And they all share the unpleasant experience of dealing with border guards and customs agents, that is, the authorities who control the flow of goods and people into and out of a country and who are responsible for collecting government tariffs—the duties or taxes imposed on imported or exported goods and, before the abolition of the international slave trade, also on commodified human beings.

Smyrne, Les quais et le bureau des passeports = İzmir, the Docks and the Passport Office.
Smyrne, Les quais et le bureau des passeports = İzmir, the Docks and the Passport Office. İzmir (Smyrna) postcards and photographs collection. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

The French word for customs is douane—a variant on the Arabic word دیوان (dīwān), which likely came to Arabic from Persian/Farsi.  This word is thought to have arrived in France via the Mediterranean island of Sicily (the “toe” of Italy’s “boot”), which at one point in time hosted a significant Arab population. Although the etymology of the mellifluous-sounding French word hints at a process of cross-cultural fertilization (Persian to Arabic to French via Italy), in practice, a customs house serves as an architectural embodiment of the process by which established, governmental authorities label and domesticate the “Other.” A douane, in other words, is a stark reminder of the fact that you are crossing a demarcated border and entering a foreign country, a land where you do not really belong and where you are the unwelcome stranger.

Anyone who has ever travelled internationally knows that every time you enter a foreign country, you have to engage in certain social conventions: show a valid passport and (entry) visa, then explain why you are entering, why you left, where you went, and for how long. Even if you are just a librarian returning from an international book-buying trip or book fair, you are bound to be stopped at the border: “Welcome to the US, Mr. Swanick: Have you ever been to Yemen? When was the last time you visited Syria? And what was the purpose of your visit?” Or else: “I don’t recognize this visa, please come with me”—a phrase that sends chills up and down a global traveler’s spine, no matter which country’s customs agent pronounces it.  International borders, like the customs houses and checkpoints built alongside them, affirm your identity and nationality, whether you like it or not. They are meant to exclude the “Other,” to limit diversity, and to demonstrate your inequality vis-à-vis the natives of the country you are visiting. They are, in a word, the polar opposite of the global perspective cultivated by IAS.

Yichang (Ichang) Customs Station = 宜昌海关站 (1917). Sidney D. Gamble Photographs. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Yichang (Ichang) Customs Station = 宜昌海关站 (1917). Sidney D. Gamble Photographs. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

As the international border-crossing experience painfully demonstrates, the world and its inhabitants could stand with a little less “othering” and a lot more diversity. But what does “being” diverse mean for the international and area studies specialists of Duke University Libraries? Over the course of the next several months, a series of blog posts by different members of IAS will attempt to examine how our work as builders and curators of the library’s international collections contributes to the on-going, campus-wide conversation about equity, diversity, and inclusion.  We hope you will read our entries in the spirit in which they were intended and contact us if you have any comments, criticisms, or (we hope) compliments.

Stay tuned!