Archive for February, 2013

Death and Humility: Richard III and the Historical Desecration of Corpses

Ancient and Early Medieval historian Sarah Bond shares her thoughts on the recent discovery of the skeletal remains of Richard III

bonesThe story of the English King found underneath a car park has captured the world, it seems. Following his death at the hands of Henry Tudor’s troops at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, it was widely reported that Richard III’s bones were interred at Greyfriars church in Leicester. It would be half a millennium later, with the careful excavation and examination of bones exhumed by the University of Leicester in September 2012, that the king’s body would be found. The discovery of the king’s remains confirmed that he had died after “one of two significant wounds to the back of the skull — possibly caused by a sword and a halberd.” This fact is consistent with the accounts of his death; however, the skeleton also reveals a number of other injuries given to the ribs, pelvis, and head. Accounts of the battle do hint at degradation of his body, noting that he was stripped naked, then placed on the back of a horse after his death. The injury to the pelvis shows an even greater degree assault, since it likely came from a posthumous thrust through his right buttock. These injuries, scientists suggest, are “humiliation injuries.”

Admittedly, folks, I am an ancient and early medieval historian. Yet, when I heard about these injuries, I was not altogether surprised. The desecration of corpses is not a new or even remotely innovative assault, I am afraid. Continue reading ‘Death and Humility: Richard III and the Historical Desecration of Corpses’


AMWRRI: Documenting the Lives of Arab and Muslim Women

Today we offer a blog written by Enaya Othman, who received her PhD in American history in 2009.  She wrote her dissertation, “The American Friends Mission in Ramallah, Palestine: A Case Study of American-Arab Encounter, 1869-1948” under the direction of Steve Avella.  Enaya is currently an adjunct professor of Arabic language and literature at Marquette.  She is also Director of the Arab Muslim & Women Research & Resources Institute, which seeks to document lives of American Muslim and Arab women through its oral history project and to disseminate information about their histories and experiences through educational programming and exhibits.  One of their projects seeks to understand how dress helps Arab and Muslim Women immigrants in the Greater Milwaukee Area create and maintain their identities.  Her blog explains the mission of the AMWRRI and the ways in which the stories of these women have been gathered, often by students at Marquette and elsewhere. Find out more about the AMWRRI at


AMWRR BannerThe oral histories of Arab and Muslim women show that their identity is a complex and a significant process inside and outside their domestic, familial lives. In particular, events in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the rise of Arab nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s, the Gulf War, 9/11, the prolonged Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the American invasion of Iraq, among others, have played roles in the perception as well as assertion of identity.

These testimonies reveal that women’s identities and perceptions are multifaceted; they also speak of an array of determinants that influence the degree to which integration and acculturation shapes identity. These factors include the level of education, time of immigration, the consistency of keeping ties with the homeland, the geographical region from where they migrated (village, refugee camp, city, and country), their contribution to family economy, and the level of interactions with members outside their ethnic and religious group. Consequently, as each of the stories addresses its multiplicities and uniqueness, simultaneously it shares communality and general pattern that connect them to their group’s history.

The Arab Muslim & Women Research & Resources Institute contends that clothing serves as a multifaceted metaphor in this rich history. Continue reading ‘AMWRRI: Documenting the Lives of Arab and Muslim Women’

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 817 other followers