Category Archives: Miscellaneous


Notes from The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity

p. 139 “Columanus’s spirital guidance “held out – humanely, intimately, personally – a lifeline to the individual members of an aristocratic society that was violent, guilty and fearful. The violence and the guilt we can read about in the the pages of Gregory of Tours …. fear of treachery, fear of revende, fear of shame, fear of pain, and above all fear of death and what might be beyond it. Penance healed guilt and drove out fear … could not the offering to God – in a society in which every cog of social intercourse was oiled by rthe giving of gifts – of a monastery, richly endowed, splendidly furniches, peopled by the founder’s own kin turned monks expert in praryer, buy His favour?

p. 140 One of the earliest Frankish converts to the Clumbanian monastic life was a young man named Chagnoald… belonged to an aristocratic family then settled near Meaux, to the east of Paris, although it had originated in Burgundy…While staying with Chagneric (his father), Columbanus blessed his young daughter Burgundofara (Fara, Fare) and “dedicated her to the Lord”. … When she grew up she entered monastic life and founded a nunnery upon one of the family’s estates, Eboracum, later to take its name from her, Fara’s monastery, Faremoutier, now Faremoutiers-En-Bric.

p. 141. her brother Chagnoald left Luxeuil to become bishop of Laon, … a third, …after service in the royal chancery of Dagobert I (d. 639) had become bishop of Meaux. Burgundofaraa’s will, dated 633 or 634, has survived. It shows how well endowed her nunnery was and how the different members of the family had contributed to these endowments… Faremoutiers later received endowments from Queen Balthild, wife of Clovis II (d. 657). Balthild was of English birth…. According to Bede the Kentish princess Eorcengota, great granddaughter of Ethelbert and Bertha, became a nun at Farenoutiers, and two East Anglian princesses became successive abbesses there.”

p. 181 In Gaul, the monastery of Nivelles was founded by Itta, widow of Pippin I – ancestors of Charlemagne – in 640, on advice from St Amandus. Its first abbess, Gertrude, was her daughter, and successive abbesses were also drawn from this high-ranking, aristocratic family often known from its most famous sons as the Pippinids. In England, Whitby was founded by King Oswy in 657. Its first abbess was Hilda, great-niece of Edwin of Northumbria; on her death in 680 she was succeeded by Eanflaed, widow of Oswy, daughter of Edwin and early patron of Wilfridl she in her turn by her daughter Alflaed. It is somehow appropriate that there should survive a letter which passed between Alflaed and Abbess Adela of Pfazel, near Trier. For Pfalzel was another Pippinid house and Abbess Adela unsurprisingly connected to the Pippinid dynasty; she was the sister-in-law of Pipppin II, grandson of Pippin I.

p. 183 “Bede tells a story .. involving the nunnery of Coldingham… like Whitby, was closely associated with the Northumbrian royal family. Its abbess at this time, about 680, was Abbe, sister of King Oswy.. As Bede tells it, the nuns of Coldingam were too given to a secular manner of life… “they occupy their spare time in weaving more delicate clothes with which to adorn themselves like brides, and make friends with visiting men. When the nunnery was accidentally dsetroyed by fire, Bede saw in this the manifestation of divine displeasure. Aldhelm uttered similar condemnations of worldly dress in writing to the nuns of Barking, founded by Bishop Eorcenwald of London for his sister. Excavations at the site have brought forward fragments of gold thread and some silver-gilt pins, which could have formed part of the elaborately decorated headdresses… women’s dress among the Franks and the English changed under the influence of Mediterranean and especially Byzantine models in the wake of the coming of Christianity”. A telling example of this is furnished by the so-called “Chemise of Sainte-Bathilde”, preserved in Bathild’s monastery of Chelles: a fragment of a linen shirt, with embroidery in four colours round the neck to simulate a necklace with a cross pendant from it. We cannot tell whether this garment really did belong to Balthild, though it would seem to date from her lifetime… the Empress Theodora, Justinian’s wife, is depicted wearing on ein the mosaics of San Vitale in Ravenna.”

p. 217 “The dissemination of Bede’s historical works in the Frankish kingdom provided food for thought and models for action in the mission field. King Alhred of Northumbria and his queen Osgifu assured Lul in 773 that “We have been careful to do as you asked about yourself and authority they are commended with everlasting memorial of writing and offered daily to God with the help of prayers. A bond of prayer … transcended space and time, had bridged not only the sea which divided England and Germany but also that other sea which divided the living from the dead… at some point between 765 and 774 King Alhred convened a synod which despatched another Northumbrian, the priest Willehad, across the sea. He worked initially in the north Frisian area where Boniface had perished. Later, in about 780, he was recruited by Charlemagne to work further east among the Saxons. When his work was interuppted by Widuking’s recolt he managed to escape … settled for two years of prayer and study at Echternach … presided over at this time by Abbot Beornrad, another Englishman … who was later to become archbishop of Sens and one of Charlemagne’s leading counsellors.”

p. 241 “from Ireland … St Brigit of Kildare. Although dates in the 5th century were later allotted to Brigit, it is practically certain that she never existed… Many scholars consider it likely that Brigit’s cult was the continuation of the cult of a Celtic fire-goddess. .. feast day on 1 February conincides with the pre-Christian festival of spring called Imbolg… the old Irish word erlam, “patron saint”, had the original meaning of “god of the tribe” or “tutelary deity”.

p. 247 “Columba’s grandest encounter on this journey took place at the court of the Pictish king Bridei (or Brude). The king’s chief magician – who was also his foster-father – was named Broichan. Columba had come to the Pictish court to seek the release of a captive Irishwoman, who to have occasioned these laborious journeyings and high-level diplomacy was probably a person of some considerable standing.”

p. 259 We now know that the practice of furnishing graves was maintained well into the Christian period. Among the Franks of northern Gaul, the Anglo=Saxons of eastern England, the Bavarians, and a little later the Slavs of Moravia, the men and women of the aristocracy continued to be laid to rest clothed, armed, bejewelled and equipped with the necessities of life in the Hereafter.

p. 261 At Eglwys Gwmyn in modern Dyfed, looking out over Carmarthen Bay, … stands a stone pillar commemorating in both Latin and ogham script a woman named Avitoria, daughter of Cunignos. It is difficult to assign even approximate dates to stones such as this, but the most expert modern enquirers would be inclined to place the inscription somewere in the sixth century. … We cannot be absolutey certain that Avitoria was a Christian .. however the feeling that what we seem to have … is an early Christian cemetery is strengthened by the widespread occurence of similar physical features in many more such graveyards in the western parts of the British Isles.”

p. 275 It is now clear that literacy among the laity in the 9th century was more widespread than once was thought, a tribute to the educational energies of the Carolingian reformers… a new emphasis on the non-Romance vernaculars for literurgical and homiletic uses (hymns, prayers, creeds, sermons etc)… We have works of Christian devotion composed for the use of the laity… Most remarkable of all, we even possess one such work composed by a member of the laity, the manual of advice for her son written in about 840 by a southern French lady named Dhuda. Such evidence tells us little directly about the quality of belief, but its mere existence and survival encourage the feeling that at least in some laity quarters Christian observance was taken seriously.”

p. 277 “Baptism gave life and salvation. .. Stephen’s biography of Wilfrid tells a heart-rending story of a mother who beought the bishop to baptise her dead son and thus “to save him from the lion’s mouth”… a rare and precious glimpse of a lay perception of baptism in the England of the 670s…. Infants could not receive the instructions which had traditionally preceeded baptism, nor could they make the renunciations and promises which were a part of the baptismal ritual. Sponsors had to act on their behalf. Hence the institution of godparenthood.”

p. 309 al-Andalus in the 850s “Flora’s story was particularly harrowing. She was another child of a mixed marriage, her father a Muslim and her mother a Christian. Her father died when she was very young and her mother brought her up a Christian. However, this had to be kept secret from her elder brother, who was an extremely zealous Muslim. Glora would later recall how difficult it had been to fast secretly in Lent. Eventually she ran away from home with her sister and the two young women took refuge in a nunnery. However, her brother tracked Flora down – we don’t know what happened to the sister – and handed her over to the authorities as an apostate. She was imprisoned, which was when Sabigotho met her. Refusing to renounce Christianity, Flora was executed in November 851.”

p. 343. “The geographical position of Bavaria meant that her relations with the Italian powers to the south were as significant as those with the Franks to the west. Agilolfing lorship reached deep into the Alps and intermittently beyond them, a force to be recokoned with by Lombard kings at Pavia, Byzantine officials at Ravenna and popes at Rome. The Bavarian princess Theodelinda married, around the year 600, two successive Lombard kings and was the mother and regent for another, King Adaloald… The last of the Agilofings, Tassilo III, also married a Lombard princess.”

p. 402 The medieval settlements in Greenland produced no native historians… We know just enough to sense a certain vitality in the Christian culture of the settlements during the 12th and 13th centuries. The cathedral at Gardar was rebuilt on a larger scale by Bishop Jon Smyrill, Jong th Hawk, whose episcopate fell between 1189 and 1209. It had glass windows and three fireplaces. The bones of a man who may have been Jon Smyrill have been excavated in the north transept. They were identifiable as the remains of a bishop by his gold episcopal ring and the crozier which had been placed across his body. This crozier had a finely carved head of walrus ivory, probably Icelandic work of the late 12th century. It has been speculated that it could have been carved by the celebrated Icelandic artist Margret hin haga, Margaret the Dextrous, who worked to commissions from Bishop Pall of Skalahoir, whom Bishop Jon Smyrill is known to have visited in 1202-3.”

p. 409 These 11th-century Danish bishops may have been, some of them, a roughish lot. Egilbert of Odense was an ex-pirate, Avoco of Roskilde was another drunk who met the same fate as the bibulous Henry of Lund. Christian of Aarhus was one of the leaders of a raid on England in 106970. One can readily imagine the reactions to them of smooth prelates like Fulbert of Cartres. Yet it was the lead given by these bishops that enabled the Danish church to become firmly rooted in its native soil”

p. 425 “As far as we can tell, Christianity entered Poland from Bohemia. It appears to have done so, as so often elsewhere, as the result of a dynastic marriage. In about 964 the Polish ruler Mieszko married Dobrava, the daughter of BoleslasI of Bohemia. It was a name of happy omen, commented Thietemar of Mersebeurg, airing his knowledge of Slavonic, because Dobrava meant “good”. She brough Christian priests and books with her to Poland, and soon the heathen husband was brought to god by his Christian wife. .. He established a new residence for himself at Gniezno (Gnesen) which had a chapel dedicated to St George. In this choice of saintly patron we might detect the influence of Dobrava, whose sister Maria was abbess of the nunnery of St George in Prague. … Mieszko’s second wife was a German girl of very high family, the daughter of Dietrich, margrave of the north-eastern frontier. The alliance was so important to both parties that she had to be hauled out of the nunnery of Kalbe to exchange a heavenly for an earthly bridegroom. Theitmar was shocked at this, though he admitted that she subsequently performed many Christian good works.”

p. 431 The abandonment by the Magyars of a nomadic way of life and the permanent settlement in the Pannonian plain was followed by the expansion of east-west trade through the region and the gradual consolidation of power in the hands of a single princely dynasty, the Arpads. It is a familiar pattern. This does not mean that conversion to Christianity would follow as the night the day; but we may, ny now, be unsurprised to learn that it do so follow. The earliest ruler of the settled Magyars to adopt Christianity was Geza, probably around 980. The adoption took the form – again, not unfamiliar – of simply adding the Christian deity to his pantheon of traditional gods. When his bishop taxed him with this Geza is said to have replied “that he was a rich man and well able to afford sacrifices to all his gods”, so at least Thietmar of Merseburg had heard. Theitmar had also heard tales about Geza’s wife [Sarolt], that she was a hard drinker, rode like a night and had killed a man with her bare hands. Bruno of Querfurt reported that Adalbert’s missionary dealings were more with her than his husband, because “she held the whole kingdom in her hands”. Thietmar knew her by a Slav name, not a Magyar one. He rendered it Beleknegini and tells us that in Slavonic this means “beautiful lady” (more acccurately, actually, ‘white lady’). Had Geza married into a Christian Slav family – like Mieszk of Poland – and this was one means by which Christianity got a toehold at the Magyar court? If so, then the coming of Christianity to Hungary was evidently a rather more complicated matter than the Passau version would have had it; or, for the matter of that, the Constantinopolitan version”.

p. 469 It is not often that we can witness the foundation of a parish. But … in the year 922 a church was consecrated in the name of St John the Baptist at the village of Mundarn in the district of Berga, high in the Pyrenees to the borth of Barcelona. It had been built on the order of a lady named Emma, who was abbess of the nunnery of San Juan de las Abadesas, Emma Barcelona, the daughter of Count Wifred the Hairy of Carvelona (d. 898) who had been the uncrowned king of the SPanish March (though nominally subject to the king of West Francia. Wifred had founded the nunnery in about 892 and installed his daughter as its first abeess, a familiar arrangement. Emma president over San Juan de la Abadesas for 50 years. Evidently an active and decisive woman, she devoted her considerable energies, among other things, to the orgnaisation of pastoral ministry on the monastic estates… whatever rural pastoral organisation had existed in the Romano-Visigothic period (if any) had been disrupted during the period of Islamic rule, which had come to an end only during Emma’s father’s lifetime and to some degree owing to his efforts… So she commissioned the building of the church at Mundarn and then invited the local bishop Rudolfo (or Ralph) or Urgel – who was her brother – to come and dedicate it…. She provided the new church with vestements and bookss: a chasuble, stole, maniple and alb; a missal, lectionary, psalter, antiphonal and a selection of ‘uplifting homilies from the holy Fathers of the Catholic church’… she also gave a house on the south side of the church as a residence for the parish priest together with various plots of land for his support” … On gets a sense, in studying these rare survivals, that setting up a new parish in Catalonia in the early 10th century was something that people knew how to do. It was not some unfamiliar new departure.”

p. 504 “Raiding brough Christian captives into Lithuania… A writer of the mid13th thought that the Lithuanian aristocracy would be easy to convert because so many of its members had been brought up by Christian wet-nurses and nannies. Foreign merchants brough theiir faith with them, just as they had done in earlier centuries to the ports of the north German and Danish coastlines. .. A complicated web of diplomact bound the Lithuanian ruling dynasty into the princely houses of Christendom. “


Notes from Food and the City: Histories of Culture and Cultivation (D. Imbert ed)

“Three Acres and a Cow” David H Haney

P. 19 “the Liberals supported the widespread establishment of small holdings, in opposition to the Tories, who represented the landholding class. As early as 1879, William Gladstone spoke of the need for “petite culture” in England, referring to the perceived success of the proprietary peasants in France. The chief figure behind this movement was Liberal Member of Parliament Jesse Collings, whose phrase “three acres and a cow” became a popular slogan. Beginning in 1887, Collings set in motion the passage of a series of Acts of Parliament designed to provide individuals with allotments and small holdings from which they could derive all or part of their income. This series of Acts culminated in those of 1908 1909 and 1920, which directed local county councils to procure and administrate allotments and smallboldings for either lease or sale, according to local demands. This was a highly political issue, with some politicians categorically denouncing the notion of small holdings as a viable economic solution. Published government reports from 1909-10 indicate significant popular interest, but a massive amount of small holdings was never provided, largely due to apathy and interference from government officials and the landed classes. (See maps etc Report of the Land Division for 1909 (Board and Agriculture and Fisheries)

William Booth of Salvation Army “succeeded. In raising £100,000 to purchase nine hundred acres of farmland and to set up operations next to the village of Hadleigh in Essex near the Thames Estuary,,, more land gradually acquired bringing the total area to more than 3,000 acres. While not entirely economically self-sufficient, the venture was by all accounts a success, as the primary goal was to retrain destitute down-and-out men. (In 1895 there were 350 men in residence.) The majority o the men trained at Hadleigh were sent to colonies overseas, as Booth had promised with Canada a preferred destination. But the outbreak of WWI marked the gradual decline of the British Empire, and the farm as well.”

”The landscape of the Dutch IJsselmeer Polders: Amsterdam and its food supply system 1930-69” Z Hemel

P. 128 “In 1941, when the general plan for the Southwestern polder was drawn up, the capital set up a Municipal Zuider Zee Committee… growing opposition to the large-scale technical works within the Dutch local history and nature conservation movements led to the Organization of a Preservation Day in Amsterdam held in September 1942,,, Fir the first time there was something that could be called a dialogue between the bureaucratic apparatus and town planners, landscape architects and preservationists… in 1940 Dudok developed a sketch in which the polder space was apportioned with great belts of wood, an unprecedented proposal, as it earmarked precious fertile land as forest area. Van Eesteren supported Dudok’s idea, not just for aesthetic reasons but because he thought it was ecologically sound: it prevented erosion, blocked the wind moistened the land, and offered shelter to useful birds and insects.”

p. 139 Although the Southwestern polder was never drained and Lelystad was build according to a somewhat different scheme (because the Dutch state considered Van Eesteren’s plan too bold and optimistic), most of the structure plan has been implemented. .. Food production on farms in the Ijselmeer polders ranks among the most productive in the world. ,, Even the introduction of a nature reserve of more than 56 square km between Lelystad and Almere – which some say happened by accident because nature took over when a planned industrial estate was no longer needed, – can be seen as the late fulfilment of the vision of Van Eesteren,,,, Beauty and function really coincided… and in 2-12, the new town Almere won the bid for the Florida and will host the prestigious world horticultural expo in the year 2-22. The MVRDV-designed plan for the expo proposes building a city that is literally green as well as ecological. As Windy Maas, one of the founders of MVRDV explains it will be a city “that provides food and energy, cleans its own water, recycles waste and holds a great biodiversity,,, Can this symbiosis between city and countryside offer essential argumentation to the global concerns regarding urbanisation and consumption?”

”From Beets in the Bronx to chard in Chicago,” L Lawson and L Drake

P. 143 “while general applauded as self-help and community activism, some geographers and urban studies scholars have exposed deeper political implications, questioning whether community gardens represent stopgap solutions that facilitate neoliberal policies or are emblematic of “rights to the city” Social justice discourse”

P, 145 “In the American city of the 1890s, gardening was an attractive solution for a range of economic, social and environmental concerns… the effort to engage unemployed workers in gardening for food and income, known as vacant lot cultivation associations. Starting in Detroit in 1894, the success of “Pingree’s Potato Patches” inspired charitable organisation in many other Us cities.. discourse primarily centred on the survival of individual families – allowing poor residents to grow a wide variety of food for household consumption, including food that could be stored for winter, and to sell surplus produce.

P. 148 Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor “the AICP report noted that gardening kept people busy so they could not organise or riot: “as long as US soldiers will shoot rioters, we need not fear an actual insurrection… [nonetheless] the idle man is still the dangerous one.”

p 152 WWII “agricultural experts considered gardening as a way to expand domestic diet options and improve nutritional outcomes. The importance of gardening was not just in the material production of food but also in the symbolic linkage of civilians and soldiers abroad, because “food will be one of our major weapons of war”. Campaigns thus promoted gardening in any available space, from backyards to public land and vacant lots, emphasising food production and an ethic of collaboration, collective welfare and national morale.”

“Transforming a Hostile Environment: Japanese Immigrant Farmers in Metropolitan California”

P. 198 Having developed irrigation for the region

S arid landscapes and a strategy for growing high-value speciality crops, California led the West in agricultural productivity by 1900. That year, more than 5.5 million thriving orange trees fulfilled the promise of California as an agricultural Eden, and the image of shiny-leaved, fragrant citrus trees was deployed by powerful marketing organisations to draw migrants from other parts of the US… developed as a type of industrialised agribusiness that specifically welcomed immigrants as long as they contributed to a cheap pool of farm labour. Out-of-work Chinese railroad labourers were the first major immigrant group… By 1882, when these workers represented up to 3,4 of Californian farm labourers, long-boiling, anti-Chinese organizing resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first major law restricting immigration to the Unite States. Yet landholders’ continuing need fir cheap labour opened the door to emigrants from Japan … between 1900 and 1910 when the Japanese population in California quadrupled to 41,356,,, men between the ages of 20 and 44 made up the majority of the first generation immigrants.. Issei leaders such as SAN Francisco-based publisher Kyutaro Abiko helped transform the vision of success for Japanese immigrants from that of temporary sojourner to rooted family farmer. Yet transitioning from a bachelor society was not a smooth process. Up to 1910, the dramatic gender imbalance in Japanese immigrant communities meant that Hapanese wives often lived in isolation in rural or urban setting surrounded by men, and often had to deal with harassment and even rape. When they fled their situation, Japanese newspapers frequently ran kakeochi (husband desertio) advertisements containing descriptions of runaway wives and their villainous lovers. But women looking to extricate themselves from unhappy marriages found that their status in an overwhelmingly male society also meant that new possibilities err plentiful in California’s early Japanese settlements.”

“How Tokyo invented sushi” J. Sand

P. 224 “the type most people would think of as ordinary sushi – can be dated through reasonably reliable sources to a restauranteur’s invention iOS the 1810s or 1820s in Tokyo (then known as Edo) although, as with most food concoctions, there is some fuzziness about what previcely was being invented. What the Japanese call sushi on the other hand, is a broader category of food and more ancient. The word simply means pickled rice.. mixing vinegar into cooked rice preserves it. Vinegared or salted cooked rice, in turn, makes a good medium for preserving other foods. In Japan and elsewhere in East and Southeast Asia, a variety of preserved fish dishes can be found that used cooked rice this way; it is likely that some date to prehistoric times. Typically the fish is laid on top or buried between layers of fermenting rice and pressed under weights for days, weeks or even years… Pressing removed the oil from the fish while fermentation of the rice, in essence, “cooked” its proteins… techniques for preserving proteins have special importance in the context of a peasant’s subsistence economy, in which people must ration their food supplies…. the simple nigirisushi, dependent on fresh ingredients, was an urban version .. by 1700 a population of 1 million … remarkable a city of this size could be effectively supplied with food when all transport relied on human and animal energy, and the regime severely restricted the use even of wheeled vehicles., ,, copious amounts of fresh fish, so fresh that some of it, at least, could be eaten raw. ,, rapid cargo boats that combined sails and oars brought fish caught in the outer bay and on the Pacific coast to the market… these boats were permitted to enter the bay without stopping for inspection at the guardhouse where other ships were inspected before entering”.

Paris is a land of plenty – kitchen gardens as an urban phenomenon in a modern-era European city (16th-18th century)

P. 274 The Maria’s were small plots of land intensively cultivated by market gardeners, who could rent or own the land.. during the three centuries of the ancien regime, the Masai’s attempted to hold out against urban expansion, but they were constantly pushed farther away, towards the outskirts of the city, as the built-up area advanced..when a road crossed a malaise that was then allotted, topamony my recalled the area’s market gardening past. Thus in the 18th century were laid the Rus de Maria’s, Rue des Terre-Fortes, Rue des Petit-Champs, Rue Nuevo de Petits Champs, rue du Pont auc Chou, Rue du Chenin Vert, Cul De Dac des Jardinieres, and Rue de l’oseille, remembering land use, gardeners and crops.

P. 275 population of about 604,000 As the population’s diet was mainly based on bread and soup, it was crucial for the authorities to ensure that the markets were supplied with vegetables for the cooking pot. (As is evident from the word’s etymology, the “portages”had to provide vegetables and herbs for the pot.) The ancien regime embraced a new enthusiasm for dishes made of fresh salad vegetables and fruits, and this was particularly so in the case of the elite by birth or wealth. Developed from the final decades of the 16th century to the early decades of the 17th, this new French way of cooking advocated early vegetables and lettuces, orprimeurs, and fresh fruits to be eastern as soon as they were ready or ripe, rather than dried vegetables and fruits for storage. The cooks also replaced exotic spices with native herbs – one of the most important of them was parsley, and so the culinery regime of the bouquet garni began..

P. 277 The fruit and vegetable garden was an integral part of the French cultural model that was developed under the Bourbons; therefore, the social spectrum of Parisians engaged in gardening was particularly wide, ranging from the highest echelons of the aristocracy to the market gardeners.”

P. 285 The choice of vegetables with very short period of edible ripeness, of growing early vegetables and of increasing the number of harvests on the ame plots of land throughout the year made possible the continuation of commercial horticulture in Paris… an ardent (about an acre) of Maria’s enabled a family of market gardeners to live from their work.. a significantly higher return on investment to fields sown with cereal crops or planted with grapes… in the 178-s the rent.. was.. 3 to 4 times higher… than in cereal-growing areas”.

P. 286 “Growing plants on layers of manure resulted in the stimulation of vegetative development due to the warmth produced by the decomposing manure and straw. Vegetable seedlings were planted in a layer of compost placed on top of a layer of animal manure … technique in common use from the 16th century onwards for the growing of cucumbers and melons. ,,, gardeners cleared away this urban waste free of charge and so they contributed to the cleaning of roads and streets.”

“Market gardens in Paris” S. Taylor-Leduc

P. 301 “circulars intelligent: Parisian waste returns as food.. today we would describe as an urban ecosystem. In the 19th century, such holistic systems fascinated city planners, politicians, economists, sanitation reformers, and utopian visionaries.. from 1858 to 1900, 1,6th of the area of Paris was sued to produce more than 100,000 tonnes of high-value vegetable crops annually.. remarkable productivity, unequalled by contemporary industrial standards,.. market gardeners were at the center, not the periphery, f 19th-century Oarisian urban planning and food culture.”

p. Emile Zola’s portrayal of the Carreau in The Belly of Paris remains one of the most evocative descriptions of vegetables in 19th-century literature.”


Notes from Hunger: A Modern History by James Vernon

p. 17 “The hungry became figures of humanitarian concern only when novel forms of news reporting connected people emotionally with the suffering of the hungry and refuted the Malthusian model of causation. In this sense hunger became news during the 1840s but it was not until the last decades of the ninteenth century that it became firmly estanlished as a humanitarian cause celebre- one that would later give rise to organizations intent on the conquest of hunger, like Save the Children and Oxfam.”

p. 45 “Refuting the widespread belief that the famine was an act of providence (John) Mitchell argued that it was manmade in England, where the potato blight was the pretext for a knowingly perpetrated genocide. Using Britain’s own parliamentary reports, blue blooks, and census figure, he provided a litany of examples – ample harvests, exports of grain from Ireland, the profiteering use of relief supplies, the absence of British funds for relief, incompetent and murderous bureacrats, and opportunistic Anglo-Irish landlords determined to rid themselves of unproductive tenants – that demonstrated a concerted British policy of starvation and depopulation…. His associationof classical political economy with the English and famine was doubly damning; it undercut both the presumed universality of the laws of political economy and it promise to deliver the wealth of nations, at least to any nation other than England.”

p. 61 “The hunger strike arrived in Britain on 5 July 1909. On that day Marion Dunlop refused her prison food, to protest at the government’s refusal to recogise her offence (which was writing a clause of the Bill of Rights on the walls of the Houses of Parliament) as a political rather than a criminal act. Released after 91 hourson hunger strike, she was greeted by the WSPU as an exemplary figure whose protest had demonstrated her selfless commitment to the cause…the enthusiasm soon spread to Ireland. .. Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, one of the first to go on hunger strike, recalled that the “hunger strike was then a new weapon – we were the first to try it out in Ireland. Consequently, she wrote: “Sinn Fein and it allies regarded [the tactic] as a womanish thing. This was soon to change. During the 1920s, in the rush to assemble an exclusively male republican tradition for the huger strike, its prior history was quickly forgotten … gendered the hunger strike in particular wys to suit their idea of who was capable of the requisite self-sacrifice and discipline.”

p. 88 Edwardian years “Maud Pember Reeves … recognized the importance of nutritional science in analysing the adequacy of diets but lamented those who championed scientific diets and classes in household management were blind to the realities the labouring poor were facing. A poor woman, she insisted, was not inefficient or ignorant of nutritional principles; she had “but one pair of hands and but one overburdened brain.. give her six children, and between the bearing and the reading of them she has little extra vitality left for scientific cookin, even if she could afford the necessary time and appliances. And even if she did, she would still have to conend with the well-established taste of family members, especially the male breadwinner, who would probably “entirely refuce the scientific food”. The poor assessed their diet not by nutritional standards but by its taste. .. the insistence that food had a social and cultural meaning of its own, quite apart from its nutritional value, was to be lost for a generation, before being rediscovered by anthropologists.”

p. 145 “Most social nutritionists, however, believed that the market was not a sufficient mechanism for the reconstruction of postwar society nutritionally. Writing in the year that the Beveridge Report captured the social democratic agenda for postwar reconstruction, Orr insisted that after the war “the main function of the Government will be the promotion of the welfare of the people governed, and food policy will be based not on trade interests but on the nutritional needs of the people”. The Wartime Food Survey had shown what planning could achieve, .. The Ministry fo Food’s white paper on postwar food policy hailed this triumph of planning [improved diets during the war] as the key to the future. Acknowledging that poverty was the primary cause of hunger and malnutrition, it stated that the task of the emerging welfare state was to ensure that all members of society had a sufficient income to secure a healthy diet. … it outlined two specific objectives for the Ministry of Food: to extend the wartime system of foods for nursing mothers and children on welfare, so that all “boys and girls of this country shall be equipped to face life in the best physical and mental condiition that a full diet can secure”, and “to assist the adult citizens in choosing foods of the right nutritional value” through the regulation of advertising and food labelling” as well as”the widest measures of education and publicitiy.

p.245 When Mary Docherty asked Hannington whether she could join the NUWM’s second national hunger march in 1929, he bluntly replied: “No, nae women were allowed.” Yet later that year the NUWM created a women’s department under the direction of Maud Brown, and she secured women’s limited participation in the third national Hunger March. What really brought women into the fold was the means test on family life, and the disqualification fo 179,888 married women from unemployment relief under the Anomolies Act of June 1931. In 1932, some 50 women, ranging in age from 16 to 63, marched from Burnley to London and into the mythology of the movement. … Yet deep down the hunger march remained an inveterately masculine phenomenon. Women were not even allowed on the Jarrow march. |Ellen Wilkinson, who was the only woman alllowed on the march, believed they would “add complications” … undercut the image of a hunger march as a display of the strength and dignity of unemployed men,.. the right to welfare they articulated was based on the assumption that the needs of the unemployed man always came first.”


Notes from Experiencing Famine in Fourteenth-Century Britain

p. 365 “The Great European Famine was a catastrophe of a remarkable magnitude. The crisis was initiated by a short-term weather anomaly, bringing about a very rare scenario of three back-to-back harvest failures in 1315, 1316 and 1317. Even though the adverse weather reduced the respective gross crop yields by 25, 25 and 14% respectively, and thus, created a relative shortage, non-negligible proportions of food were still available for human consumption. It was not Nature, however, that spurred the transformation of shortage into famine, it was a combination fo demographic and antropogenic (institutional) factors. … The disposal of gross harvests was managed in accordance with manorial customs, and a disproportional share of crops was invested as seed corn. The food crisis was aggravated further by the malfunctioning of local food markets, where segmentation, preferential trade, hoarding, and a very limited scale of foreign grain imports drove up prives to the point that very few could afford purchasing crops, even though very many desperately needed to do so to compensate for the calorific loss. .. While storage costs (and thus, spoilage rates) went up because of the adverse weather, transportation costs rose because of the combination of bad weather and voilence (especially in the sea). The ongoing warfare also had a devastating and long-lasting impact on food supply, through floral and faunal destrction within the ‘war zone’, which cut local communities off from their natural resources. Furthermore, warfare reduced the access of commoners to food supplies through purveyance sales, extortion and royal taxation, which could not have come at a worse time than 1315-16.”

p. 366 “Although our attempts to estimate the fall in population are far from secure, all available evidence hints that England may have lost at least 15% of her population (and most likely in the area of 15-20%)… teh Lordships of Ireland and south and east wales … may have suffered as badly on account of warfare. Southern and eastern Scotland … seems to have got away with much lighter losses – partially thanks to her demographic, institutional and dietary peculiarities.”

p. 368 The poulation.. resumed growing after the crisis … and seems to have reached its pre-famine levels by the time of the arrival of the plague in 1348″.


Notes from The Soul of An Octopus

p36 In our dreams, we humans experience our most isolated and mysterious existence. “All men,” wrote Plutarch, “while they are awake are in one common world, but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own. How much more inaccessible, then, are the dreams of animals. .. in In1998 a new study showed that, in fact, the platypus experiences more REM sleep – some 14 hours a day – than any known mammal. .. Even enamtodes and fruit flies sleep. A 2012 study showed that if fruit flies’ sleep is interrupted repeatedly, they have trouble flying the next day – just as a person has trouble concentrating after a sleepless night.”

p. 45 The cephalopods have a comment of 30 to 50 different patterns per individual animal. They can change color, pattern and texture in seven 10ths of a second. On a Pacific coral reef, a researcher once counted an octopus changing 177 times in a single hour… have electric skin. For its color palette, the octopus uses three layers of three different types of cell near the surface – all controlled in different ways. The deepest layer, containing the white leucophores, passively reflects background light. The process appears to involve no muscles or nerves. The middl layer contains the tiny iridophores, each 100 microns across. These also reflect light, including polarized light (which humans can’t see but a number of octopus pradators, including birds, do). The iridophores create an array of glittering greens, clues, golds and pinks. … appear to be controlled by the nervous system. They are associated with the neurotransmitter acertylcholine… helps with contraction of muscles in humans, it is also important in memory, learning and REM sleep. In octopuses, more of it “turns on” the greens and blues, less creates pinks and golds. The topmost layer of skin contains chromatophores, tiny sacks of yellow, red, brown and black pigment, each in an elastic container that can be opened or closed to reveal more or less colour. Camouflaging the eye alone – with a variety of patterns including a bar, a bandit’s mask and a starburst pattern p can involve as many as 5 million chromatophores. .. No researcher today suggests that all of this is purely instinctive. An octopus must choose the displaty it needs for a particular occasion, then change accordingly, then monitor the results – and, if necessary, change again. Octavia’s camouflage abilities were superior to those of her predecessors because, living longer in the ocean amid wild predators and prey, she had learned them.”

p. 48 For an invertebrate, the octopus brain is enormous. Octavia’s was about the size of a walnut, the same size as that of an African grey parrot. Alex, an African grey, trained by Dr Irene Pepperberg learned to us 100 spoken English words meaningfully, demonstrated an understanding of concepts of shape, size and material, could do math, and asked questions. He could also purposefully deceive his trainers – as well as apologise when he was found out… cephalopods are the only example outside of vertebrates of how to build a complex, clever brain”… the human brain is organised into four different lobes, each associated with different functions … an octopis brain .. has 50 to 75 different lobes. And most of an octopus’s neurons aren’t even in the brain but in the arms. These may be adaptations for the sort of extreme multitasking an octopis must undertake to coordinate all of those arms; to change color and shape’ to learn, think, decide and remember – while at the same time processing the flood of taste and touch information pouring in from every inch of skin, as well as making sense of the cacophany of visual images offered by the well-developed, almost humanlike eyes. … The common ancestor of humans and octopuses – a primitve, tube-shaped creature – lies so deeply enbedded in the prehistoric past that neither brains nor eyes had yet evolved. Still the octopus eye and ours are strikingly similar. Both have len-based focusing, with transparent cornea, irises that regulate light and retinas in the bacl of the eye to convery light to neural signals that can be processed in the brain. Yet there are also differences. The octopus eye, unlike our own, can detect polarized light. It has no blind spot… The optic nerve circles the outside of the retina. Our eyes are binocular, directed dorward for seeing what’s ahead of us, our usual direction of travel. The octopus’s wide-angle eyes are adopted to panoramic vision. And each eye can swivel independently, like a chameleon’s. Our visual acuity can extend beyond the horizon; an octopus can see only about eight feet away. There is another important difference. Human eyes have three visual pigments, allowing us to see colour. Octyopises have only one .. technically color-blind… New evidence suggests cephalopods might be able to see with their skin… the skin of the close relative, the cuttlefish, contains gene sequences usually only expressed in the retina of the eye.”

p 63 In Jennifer and Roland’s studies showing that octtopuses recogise individual humans, they found that after only a few trials, when the octopuses saw one of the staff members who always touched them with a bristly stick, they would make the eyebar as soon as they saw that person approach. When approached by people who always fed them, they did not.”

p. 72 The sight of a slender young woman sitting in the anaconda ehxibit with a 13-foot-long preatory reptile snuggled in her lap, the top of a tail coiled lovingly about one leg, provided dramatic evidence of what Scott and Wilson already knew: “Just about every animal” – not just mammals and birds — “can learn, recognize individuals and respond to empathy.” Once you find the right way to work with an animal, together you can accomplish what even Saint Francis might have considered a miracle.

p. 75 “Many of us respond without thinking to the angle of a horse’s ears, or the position of a dog’s tail, or the expression in a cat’s eyes. Aquarists learn the silent language of fishes.. the low-tide odor Scott detects, is that of heat-shock proteins. These are intracellular proteins that were first discovered to be released, in both plants and animals, in response to heat, and are now known to be associated with other stresses as well.”

p. 75 slime is a very specialised and essential substance, and there is no denying octopuses have slime in spades. Almost everyone who lives in the water does. Slime helps sea animals reduce drag while moving through the water, capture and eat food, keep their skins healthy, escape predators, protect their eggs… For some fishes – Scott’s Amazon discus and cichlids among them – slime is the piscine equaivalent of mothers’ milk. The babies actually feed off their parents’ nutiritious slime coat, an activity called “glancing”… A creature of the ocean bottom, a hagfish grows to about 17 inches long, and yet, in mere minutes, it can fill seven bucks with slime – so much slime it can slip from almost any predator’s grip. The hagfish would be in danger of suffocating on its own mucus, except it has learned, like a person with a cold, to blow out its nose. But sometimes it produces too much slime for even a hagfish to tolerate and the animal wraps its tail around its body like a knot and slides the knot forward, clearing the slime.”

p. 81 Evolutionary biologists suggest that keeping track of our many social relationships over our long lives was one of the factors driving the evolution of the human brain. Intelligence itself is most often associated with similar social and long-lived creatures, like chimps, elephants, parrots and whales. But octopuses represent the opposite end of this spectrum. They are famously short-lived, and most do not appear to be social … Jennifer, the octopus psychologist… believes the event driving the octopus towards intelligence was the loss of the ancestral shell… freed the animal for mobility… the octopus can hunt like a tiger.. a single octopus may hunt many different prey species, each of which demands a different hunting strategy, a different skill set, a different set of decisions to make and modify… in 20009 researchers in Indonesia documented octopuses that were carrying around pairs of half coconut shells, which they used as portable Quonset huts… At the Middlebury octopus lab … a sea urchin was feeding too near the entrance of the den belonging to a female California two-spot. So the octopus ventured out of her lair to pick up a 3.5 inch by 3.5 inch piece of flat slate lying six minches away and draffed it back to the den, where she erected it like a shielf to protect herself from the urchin’s spines.”

p. 97 “More than 500 million years ago… the arms of Octavia’s ancestor, sensitive, suckered and supple, would have been recognizable as one of an octopus.

In the wild, most female octopuses lay eggs only once, and then guard them so assiduously they won’t leave even to hunt for food. The mother starves herself for the rest of her life. A deep-sea species holds the record for this feet, surviving four and a half years withou feeding while brooding her eggs near the bottom of Monterey Canyon, nearly a mile below the surface of the ocean.”

p. 115 Hormones and neurotransmitters, the chemicals associated with human desire, fear, love, joy and sadness, “are highly conserved across taxa”… whether you are a person or a monkey, a bird or a turtle, an octopus or a clam, the physiological changes that accompany our deepest-felt emotions appear to be the same. Even a brainless scallop’s little heart beats faster when the mollusk is approached by a predator, just like yours or mine would do were we to be accosted by a mugger.”

p. 192 “Like us, apparently, fruit flies make choices propelled by emotions like fear, elation and despair. Another study found that male fruit flies, dejected after their sexual advances had been rejected by females, were 20% more likely to turn to drink (liquid food suuplemented with alcohol in the laboratory) than males who had been sexually sated.”


Notes from What is Populism by Jan-Werner Muller

p. 21 “This is the core claim of populism: only some of the people are really the people. Think of Nigel Farage celebrating the Brexit vote by claiming that it been a ‘victory for real people’ (thus making the 48% of the British electorate who had opposed taking the UK out of the European Union somehow less than real – or put more directly, questioning their status as proper members of the political community. Or consider a remark by Donald Trump … at a campaign rally in May, Trump announced that ‘the only important thing is the unification of the people – because the other people don’t mean anything’.”

p. 23 “some observers … associate populism with a distinct ideology of ‘producerism’. Populists pit the pure, innocent, always hardworking people against a corrupt elite who do not really work (other than to further their self-interest) and, in rightwing populism, also against the very bottom of society (those who also do not really work and live like parasites off the work of others.) .. claim to discern a symbiotic relationship between an elite that does not truly belong and marginal groups that are also distinct from the people. In the 20th-century United States these groups were usually liberal elites on one hand and racial minorities on the other.”

p. 27 “a notion of ‘the people’ beyond all political forms and formation was influentially theorized by the rightwing legal theorist Carl Schmitt during the interwar period. His work, together with that of fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, served as a conceptual bridge from democracy to nondemocracy, when they claimed that fascism could more faithfully realize and instantiate democratic ideals than democracy itself.”

p. 44 “Populists tend to colonize or ‘occupy’ the state. Think of Hungary and Poland as recent examples. One of the first fundamental changes Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party sought was a transformation of the civil service so as to enable the party to place loyalists in what should have been non-partisan bureaucratic positions. .. such a strategy is not the exclusive preserve of populists … they can undertake such colonization openly and with the support of their core claim to moral representation of the people.”

p. 46 “state colonization, mass clientism and discriminatory legalism are phenomena that can be found in many historical situations. Yet in populist regimes, they are practised openly and, one might suspect, with a clean moral conscience. Hence also the curious phenomenon that revelations about what can only be called corruption simply do not seem to damage the reputation of populist leaders as much as one would expect.. for supporters of populists, .. corruption and cronyism are not genuine problems as long as they look like measures pursued for the sake of a moral, hardworking us, and not for the immoral or foreign “them”.

p. 60 “As David Ost has put it starkly in an analysis of the 2015 PiS victory, “The problem… is not that people are not committed to democracy. Yes, plenty of people today aren’t committed to democracy, but they’re not committed to it because they feel that democracy, packed in neoliberal wrapping, is not committed to them.”

p. 73 “What about the shouts heard in Tahrir Square – or going back roughly a quarter century, the emphatic chanting of ‘We are the People” on the streets of East Germany in the fall on 1989? This slogan is entirely legitimate in the face of a regime that claims exclusively to represent the people but in fact shuts large parts of the people out politically.. in nondemocracies, ‘We Are the People’ s a justified revolutionary claim: it is precisely not a populist one.”

p. 79 “Parties … offered two or more competing conceptions of peoplehood, dramatized the differences between them, but also recognised the other side as legitimate. This approach was particularly attractive in countries that had undergone a civil war … parties represented diversity; party systems symbolised unity. .. neither parties nor party system fulfil their respective functions any longer. .. slow disintregation of parties and party systems .. affects the viability of democracy … including whatever remains of an ideal of democracy as providing political communities with a sense of unity and collective agency.”

p. 94 “The whole direction of political development in postwar Europe has been towards fragmenting political power (in the sense of checks and balances, or even a mixed constitution) as well as empowering unelected institutions or institutions beyond electoral accountability, such as constitutional courts, all in the name of strengthening democracy itself …

p. 96 “…always particularly vulnerable to political actors speaking in the name of the people as a whole against a system that appears designed to minimize popular participation. .. technocracy is crucial for understanding the present-day rise of populism. The two mirror each other. Technocracy holds theire is only one correct policy solution; populism claims there is only one authentic will of the people.”

p/ 99 “What is the alternative? An approach that seeks to bring in those currently excluded – what some sociologists sometimes call ‘the superfluous’ – while keeping the very wealthy and powerful from opting out of the system. This is really just another way of saying that some sort of new social contract is needed… a grand coalition actually empowered at election time. Alternatively, societies could officially renegotiate their very constitutional settlements.”