Environment and Cities in the 19th/20th Century:

Throughout this week we covered, read, and discussed different aspects of recent cities and urbanization within modern history. Beginning with the Bayly chapter reading for Monday, the first thing we examined was the pressure and strain which the fast-growing human population is placing upon our environment. Human attempts at advancement during this time often led to increased strain and in many cases consequences that we still face today. For example, in a later lecture we discussed how increased amounts of young farmers in Rwanda are having to push up mountainsides in order to have space to farm, and in turn has caused mass flash flooding. Along with this idea, Bayly also examined how a new age of innovation has changed human livelihoods. The availability of healthy food is much more prevalent than ever before, and with this we’ve seen increased life spans and other positive impacts. Next, in our Monday lecture we dove more in depth into the environment and the recent strains placed upon it. The fundamental idea behind this lecture was the fact that human success has drastically altered the environment in mostly negative ways. We also discussed how human have changed from being extremely adaptable to now relying on such a specific environment to survive. I found this entire lecture very interesting, and learning more about the specifics of this transition was quite eye-opening. I found it incredible to really see in front of me how humans have, over history, adapted in harnessing new, more efficient forms of energy while at the same time becoming less adaptable. Finally, Wednesday’s lecture talked more specifically about cities. Migration to cities was key to the rise and advancement behind what we see in our world today. Filled with metropolises, it truly began with the industrial revolution. However, these cities were essentially beta versions of modern day cities. Advancement has allowed cities to go from being highly disorganized, dirty, and overpopulated to being much more efficient and fluid. However, the process wasn’t easy, and throughout the 20th century there were many cities that were very limited in respective ways. For example, traffic flow within a particular city may have been improved drastically, but when trying to get to places on foot people’s safety and efficiency were jeopardized. Overall as urbanization continues to grow in relevance and city areas expand, the human race continues to change and, in turn, has to look to solve each new pressing issue that presents itself.

Family Migration Story:

When looking into my family’s immigration history, I found that my father’s side of the family came from a german background and my mother’s side is Irish. My parents/grandparents were unable to tell me the german side of the story, but I was able to uncover some more in depth information concerning my former Irish ancestors.

The first members of my mother’s side of the family arrived in the United States during the mid to early 19th century. More specifically, they came while the Great Famine struck Ireland and killed many. However, they were able to make it out and ultimately end up in America. As far as my family knows, they came to the Northeast and began as laborers. They were Catholic, and looking into American history at the time there was a clear need for workers especially for the building of the Erie canal. Irishmen made up the majority of workers for this project. I can even speculate that some of my ancestors even worked on this project since they resided in Cleveland, OH.

This timing of Irish immigrants fell right peace was reestablished between the United States and Britain after the War of 1812. Immigration from Western Europe began to rise, which caused a shift in the demographics of the United States. During this time period, the Irish amassed and made up half the immigrants entering the United States This was the first major wave of immigrants called the Irish Wave, and it lasted until the Civil War.

Israel vs Palestine Declarations:

  1. When looking at structure, one can see many similarities within the two documents. They both begin with brief religious histories for each country respectively talking essentially about religious displacements and hardships. Then, they both list statements regarding their independences. Overall, the structure is almost identical within the two documents.
  2.  Religion is integral to both nations respectively. They center religion around the holy land which they fight for. Therefore, religion is a defining factor while at the same time causing tension over the holy land.
  3. The Israelis view Palestinians as invaders or trespassers. They see these people who settled on land as aliens who are now vying to reclaim what isn’t rightfully theirs. Israelis think that they own this land due to and that is was given to them by god. However, Palestine view Jewish people as invaders who wrongfully take land. They believe there’s no basis for Israelis in their nation.
  4. The israelis simply seek peace. They are a bit of a lone wolf in that aspect since the surrounding nations do not respect the “invasion” of Jewish people into their nations.

The Export Boom as Modernity:

This article discusses broad Latin American ideologies and concepts while focusing specifically on singular events and countries. The time period would be late 19 century and into the 20th century as well. Mexican independence in 1910 was an excellent example of hope which blossomed in the early 20th century. While it is not truly a Latin American country, the new projects and changes proposed were revolutionary and hopeful. This age in Latin America was also considered the golden age of export oligarchy, which meant railroads played a crucial role in the mass exportation of goods which began in Latin America. Another broad concept in Latin America around this time was the idea of progress, then change. This meant an officials desired for an iron hand to be implemented so that progress could realistically be made. Another key factor to the success of this policy was the idea that large scale success in states would in turn allow for cities and communities within that state to prosper as a result.  It was a trickle down effect in that sense. However, violence and conflict was prevalent throughout a handful of countries, and bad policies were often forced upon people in order to restore control. Through all this, Latin America saw a golden age of export boom as countries were able to enter the global economy through this. Photographs were another key point in this article. They were used as the first documentation of poor working conditions but also the progress and expansion of the time period. Overall, it was a very useful technology to discover in such a time period.

Europe in the 20th Century:

Through our reading and lectures for this week, we learned and discussed the transformation of Europe in the 20th century. We read a piece by Tony Judt showing his take on these events as well as some primary sources about the EU and the recent economic crisis. Furthermore, the lectures regarded both key events as well as a central focus on the idea of the Nation State.

The rise of Europe throughout the 20th century can be broken essentially into two parts; pre 1945 and post 1945. The readings and lectures, however, focused primarily on the latter phase. A few things that Judt initially mentions are the rise of high art/theatre culture as well as football. Being an avid footballer and fan myself, I was quite interested in reading about the rapid growth of international players joining European clubs. We can still see legacies such as Ferenc Puskás being carried on in society today with football awards named in his honor. Another thing Judt focuses on is the lost status and importance of intellectuals in Europe. There was less focus on philosophy. The political topography was changing, and Governments no longer cared for what these brilliant minds had to say. Finally, arguably one of the most important part of Europe’s new identity in my opinion would be its dissociation from other cultures such as America. Europe was set on forming its own functional society/government, and through the years that really began to take shape.

Our second reading focused on even more recent European history. These sources discussed the creation of the EU, as well as its major setback in the unemployment crisis.  Wednesday’s lecture mentioned and overviewed the struggles of many countries such as France/Greece, but the reading provided personal stories from young men and women across Europe. One in specific mentioned that they had applied for over 100 jobs and only gotten a handful of interviews. This shows just how extreme the situation is. These accounts all sounded very similar in the fact that each person felt massively discouraged, worried, and irritated with the current state of the EU and their own governments.



This weeks reading and lectures included primary themes of the decolonization in Africa, imperialism, and the overarching racist views of Africa itself.

Europe and other western powers had a lot of influence on African history, and through ivory and slaves Europe especially was able to make great profit. Since Africa in the late 1800’s was pretty much up for grabs, many powers came to benefit. Through this, many economies in Europe were strengthened significantly without much payoff to Africa. Essentially, they were being used for their land and resources while also suffering from inequality and division of lands. However, Africa did not solely suffer from this. Instead, they were able to see population growth and revitalization movements a little later on.

It is interesting how Europe and other powers distorted and muddled African history and still somewhat continue to do so to this day. Since caucasians were viewed as the superior race for a long period of history much of the historical texts and information was skewed to fit the fundamental beliefs of the time. This filter is very evident in people’s misguided view on Egyptians and Egypt itself being declared as white. Furthermore, Africa is given this image of being a drained, impoverished continent. This really had a serious effect on culture and African ways of life. However, Africans themselves remain hopeful in their outlook today, although the media from other nations does not portray that quite well.  In fact, Africa has made quite a few developments in education, infrastructure, and more.