Selecting A suitable Columbarium

Cemetery and church columbaria are becoming common nowadays especially for families who feel the need to keep the memory of loved ones fresh in mind. Apart from the memory part, one of the most exciting facts about columbaria is their designs. Judging by their appearance, it takes very precise and creative columbarium architectural plans to come up with such incredible models. For instance, the niches for display the cremation urns come in several designs and sizes. If you wish to find a suitable columbarium for your loved one, there are several factors to put into consideration.

 

Location

Suppose you and other family members plan to be visiting your lost loved one on frequent occasions, the closer the columbarium, the better. You will find it convenient to pay a visit to the resting one any time you want.

 

Rules of Columbarium

You should know the rules of a columbarium before selecting it for your cremation urn. The different columbaria have contrasting rules. Nobody wishes to put their loved one in place with restrictions that limit their interests. For instance, you may want to bring flowers to the resting one several times, but the rules restrict you to do so. Therefore, select a columbarium that allows all your interests. If you prefer a place that limits your actions, there are a lot of others that you can choose.

 

Contemplate a Grass Front Niche

It feels better viewing the cremation urn from a glass front than staring at a sealed wooden door. Glass front niches are the best because you get to see the urn every time you pay a visit. That way, you can also monitor the earn to check for any abnormalities

 

Consider the Size of Niche

Some niches only fit one cremation urn, others two while some fit urns for a whole family. If the wish of your family is to rest at the place, choose a larger niche that can fit urns for several family members. If your reason for selecting the columbarium is due to the deceased’s wish, it is advisable to select a niche that fits only one urn.

Select Your Preferred Urn Design

Cremation urns come in several shapes, colors, and material among others. You are free to select an urn that you prefer. Suppose you are not certain of which type to choose, try to recall the favorite color, designs are material that the deceased loved. Materials are available in marble, wood, metal, marble, stone and granite and amazing quality. As long as the material you select suits all your preferences; you are good to go.

Columbaria are beautiful places to rest your loved one and visit them any time you want. Choosing the best place is easy as long as you consider some significant factors. Once you know the rules of a columbarium, select a beautiful urn with your most preferred characteristics and put your family member or friend in a place you are sure they would love.  Read the rest

Languedoc et ses environs

Languedoc et ses Environs

 

© Cyril Belshaw

 NOTE in 2004 :  This was intended to be a chapter in a travel-food book. Details will have changed enormously since 1990, but the general principles, the distinctions between foods, will be much the same. HOWEVER I would be most interested if you can send me information about those changes and what you find.  Do so by email here — appropriate comments will be incorporated into the text.  I Will add images when I find them !!!!   You can submit images too…………..

The Languedoc I am writing about is centred around the towns of Montpellier, Bèziers, Sète, and the one we stayed in, Agde. With the hills behind, and lands to the east and west, this is the political-cultural centre of Languedoc, which local people firmly distinguish from other southern areas. Carcassonne and Toulouse are usually included, as Nimes and Arles, although the latter already show marked Provençale influences. It is necessary to say this. The linguistic term Langued’oc simply distinguishes all those people whose original dialects were in contrast to the Parisian language of the north, the langue d’oie. (“Oc” and “oie” are dialectical terms for “oui”). It thus includes, roughly speaking, all French who live south of Lyons — and thus Provençale and Catalan. It is not easy to distinguish Provençale — sometimes thought of as being only those communities east of the Rhone, but sometimes going to the western side of the Rhone valley and delta. After all, Tartarin de Tarascon is thought of as Provençale, but he lived west of the main Rhone. And most people include Nimes and Arles and the Camargue as Provençale.

Most definitely, Catalan is different. It is closer to the Spanish Catalan than it is to central Languedoc or Provençale, both in language and in cooking.

The confusions are reflected in treatments of cuisine. The French writers of course get it right. But the English…..? Only in the Freson book (see my references) does the brief essay on Languedoc refer to the confusion and express the situation with accuracy. Elizabeth David doesn’t talk about Languedoc at all (though she has a recipe for langouste àà la Sètoise). And Patricia Wells gets it thoroughly confused, writing in her brief Languedoc chapter almost entirely about Catalan food, or the marginal — though fascinating — areas like Nimes.

My view of Languedoc is centred in the centre, on the township of Agde, though that doesn’t make it all-emcompassing. And even I, to round out my discoveries, include some things about Nimes and the Camargue, since alas we did not have time to eat in Montpellier.

Agde seemed small and dark. Not at all like the white-washed, orange-tiled villas of Provence, with their almost tropical blossoms. There were none of the vivid skies of the south the day we arrived, straight out of Kenya and the warmth of Rome.

It was cold. The skies were grey. The agent found our apartment through little streets, leading in a maze of directions. We stepped carefully over dog shit. We learned to tie our garbage bags  to any possible protuberance to avoid their being scattered by cats. The keys were forbiddingly double and heavy. Inside, the Scandinavian style floors and furniture, the white walls, endeavoured to make up for the lack of windows.

Agde is built of a black local stone. The narrow streets are there, as in Kenyan Lamu or a Moroccan souk, to keep out the intense summer heat. So the houses reject the exterior and face inward, maximizing shade. They have been built higgledy-piggledy over the centuries, no walls exactly square because property lines would not allow it, the roofs meeting in a pastiche of angles and varied planes.

Once or twice every three or four years the heavens open and water descends as if the flood has arrived. The river swells so that even low p‚niches cannot get under the bridges. We experienced two such downpours, an unusual privilege. The tiny streets became ankle deep rivers. In two minutes raincoats soaked you to the skin. The ceiling of the apartment opened to drip drip leaks, fortunately avoiding the beds. Insurance companies must have a nightmarish task determining the source of the leaks, in whose property it all starts. Or maybe they just ignore that problem and accept responsibility.

Yes, indeed, it was a grey cold October and November, compensating perhaps for the record heat wave that had struck in August. The Spanish lady who did my laundry, with her husband a refugee from Franco’s days, told me, with dramatic gestures, how impossible it had been to do any ironing in that kind of weather. She was but one of so many immigrants who by now possibly outnumber the Languedociens — from North Africa, French West Africa, pieds noirs  and their descendants, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Greek. Agde often feels like an African city, with the women in their long black robes and head scarves, children of all skin colours and hair styles playing together in the lanes, symphonies or belly-dance music coming from the windows.

Agde is still a fisherman’s port. About five kilometres up from the sheltered mouth of the Hérault, the banks of the river are lined with fishing boats, large and small, little launches, p‚niche barges which take tourists for trips along the Canal du Midi or to visit the shellfish farms of the salt water lake, the great Bassin du Thau, which stretches from Agde to the rival port of Sète, now commercially outstripping it.

The harbours of Sète are esplanades, some lined with restaurants. In Agde, by contrast, the mediaeval houses come almost to the water’s edge, the ground floors, it is true, mostly occupied by eating places. The quay is dominated by a unique fortified cathedral of hard squared lines. You can walk along the quayside, stepping carefully over huge nets which fishermen, friendly eyed for attractive female passers-by, are busy repairing.

The most Midi-like part of Agde is the square, more accurately a rectangle, shaded by the typical platane trees, smooth- boled large leaved.  Read the rest

Santa Fe – History in Food

Santa Fe – History in Food

©  Cyril Belshaw

NOTE in 2002 :  This was intended to be a chapter in a travel-food book. Details will have changed enormously since 1990, but the general principles, the distinctions between foods, will be much the same. HOWEVER I would be most interested if you can send me information about those changes and what you find.  Do so by email here — appropriate comments will be incorporated into the text.  I Will add images when I find them !!!!   You can submit images too…………..

Spanish expeditions reached New Mexico, after months of travel, in 1540. The territory was “conquered”, from 1607 to 1692, in the search for lost golden cities and a passage linking the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was definitively lost to the United States by treaty in 1848 after a disastrous war and years of military skirmishes, along with Texas (already de facto occupied by the Americans) and New California.

Santa Fe itself is not the oldest Spanish settlement in New Mexico, but its founding as an administrative capital in 1610 makes it the oldest capital city in the United States, and it has been continuously such ever since. Despite a rumbunctious history, though not nearly as macho as that of Texas, and waves of immigrants of several varieties, it has managed to retain styles of life and an aesthetic flavour that makes it, to me, the only city in the whole of the U.S. of A. to which I could think of devoting my years. Taos. nearby, has its undoubted charm, but seems dilapidated and uncared-for by contrast. Bustling Albuquerque has no character, even though it does have the airport.

The town is 7,000 feet above sea level on the rise of a plateau, in the lee of a hill where skiing is possible in winter. The quite small central core of the town maintains the layout and many of the buildings of the original Spanish occupiers, churches, mansions, haciendas, old government buildings, the plaza.

The Spaniards of course were not the original occupiers of New Mexico. Their settlements were surrounded and in competition with those of the Indian pueblos, corn growing communities sheltered by soft coloured clay-adobe houses, some terraced upward to several stories, that to this day draw thousands of tourists, and have captured the senses of artists and writers, including D.H.Lawrence.

Spanish officials did not understand much of their Indian cousins. They had known such people in Mexico itself, especially in the north and west; but they had also crossed arms with Toltecs and Mayans who had worked their great stone pyramids and temples, their astronomical observatories, and expressed themselves in writing. The New Mexican pueblos did not command the same respect. From time to time they revolted, fought back, often with a background of U.S. intrigue.

Even New Mexico has its regions. Santa Fe is regarded as the beginning of Northern New Mexico, as distinct from the hotter, closer to Mexico, south. I have to bear this in mind, because the food I write about begins with Northern New Mexico, and resists being blended into something wider, like U.S. Southwest. Thank goodness for that. Tex Mex, with some stuff like chile con carne, and Californian Mexican, in which everything is mushed together, has not yet quite taken over. You can find it in Santa Fe, alas, but there is other food too.

The climate of Northern New Mexico is mostly dry and clear and for most of the year hot in the day, cool at night. The clarity of the skies are characteristic of desert lands, but with a difference. The lights, particularly in the early morning and at sunset, are full of radiant colour, aquamarine, turquoise, pale beige, rich russet-brown, peach colours, colours that are present in the land itself. For in the land there are sands and stones of almost every hue imaginable, which, ground down, are used in the magically-healing sand paintings of the pueblos.

The adobe structures are as much a part of the landscape as anything made by nature. In remote villages you will find centuries-old churches of adobe, their flowing forms matching the hills around them, some sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage and healing, as holy and magnetic as anything in Europe. They are still places of faith.

The Spaniards adapted the style for their palatial and domestic buildings. They added more out-jutting beams, and built their rooms around garden or utilitarian courtyards, with cool fountains and shady terraces and balconies. As USAers came down, they added wooden cottages in the middle of lots, very different. But in the centre of town the two styles live pleasantly side by side, the adobe dominating as nostalgia governs city planning.

The city spread up canyons and ridges, and as it did so the newly rich and the newcomers, even commercial firms and hotels, mostly adopted adope styles, adapting them to modern living. My brother built some for a while. They can be totally phoney, that is ordinary structures with a bit of sand coloured cement thrown on. But in their architectural expression, their soft colours and gently moving lines, minimizing sharp angles, their ability to blend with the landscape and yet create oases of courtyards, shady spots, gardens and vistas, they are without compare. Many world renowned architects found their inspiration in this countryside.

So too did artists of every description, painters, sculptors, workers in beads, cloth, silver, jewelry, potters, traditional Indian geniuses, immigrants who gained inspiration from Indian motifs and techniques and the soft colours of the countryside. Indian art itself grew and adapted without losing its truth. It is mostly soft art. But it also mostly speaks to the soul.

So that, whether you look at pottery, textiles, jewelry, painting, sculpture, Santa Fe is, downtown and along some of the canyon roads, one great artistic show-case. It is much more than those little European towns like Les Baux de Provence or even Carcassonne, because it is not just a front for history, transformed to make a living.  Read the rest

The Effects of Limited Anthropological Theory on Problems of Fijian Administration

[NOTE: In my “humble” opinion the issues raised here have a great deal to do with recent political events in the country. But the lesson is that, as  anthropologists, we (including me) are not always right]

IN DEALING WITH FIJIAN MATERIALS, it is apparent to any serious research worker that for a colony of its size Fiji has not only been richly endowed with natural resources, but that it has been unusually fortunate in the research interests of its administrative and technical staff. The natural fauna and flora are well known and have been described in considerable scientific detail. Mapping has reached an advanced stage, and exhaustive material has been recorded on such matters as soil types, land tenure, and forest resources. When the Burns Commission on Population and Natural Resources took up its task, it could use as data voluminous studies dealing with a wide range of agricultural material. The census data at its disposal went back to the early years of the colony and reached a high standard of effectiveness in the portrayal of demographic trends.

The interest in systematic gathering of data began early and extended into several social fields. It is not my intention to present a highly documented historical account of the ways in which administrators and others assembled social data, and of the development of the ideas which formed the framework for research, although strictly speaking my thesis would demand such a study. It is my hope, however, that there can be tentative agreement on the main outlines of these developments, sufficient at least to demonstrate that there is a significant hypothesis to be tested by a future social historian.

It is indeed remarkable that the accepted knowledge of Fijian anthropology and society has been obtained largely through the work of long‑term professional residents, notably administrators and missionaries. One of the most perceptive accounts of land ownership was published by Fison (1880), a missionary, and this itself was largely a protest against interpretations current in the administration of that early time. Men like Henry Balfour (1904), A. B.

63

64                               Induced Political Change in the Pacific

Brewster (1922), R. H. Lester (1940), G. K. Roth (1953), Basil H. Thom­son (1908) – administrators all – published scholarly works which provided a more or less consistent view of Fijian society. This view was also reflected in official minutes, surveys, and policy documents. Indeed, one might say that the view began with observations made during official work, which became extended through additional contacts and refined by scholarly ambitions. In­terestingly enough, many of these men were not averse to counting, crude though some of their methods of assessing affinal relationships may seem to present‑day theorists.

It would be interesting to know the influence of Hocart (1929, 1931, 1952) in all this. Some of the enquiries, of course, preceded him, and it is at least possible that his interest in anthropology (he was a schoolteacher) was encouraged by his contact with missionaries and administrators of similar broad interests. There is also little doubt that his view of anthropology, and of the nature of societies such as the Fijian, was very similar to that of his colleagues. It was part of the Cambridge tradition of the early century, reinforced by contact between like‑minded persons, by formal training during periods of leave, and by discussions with members of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

The first nonresident professional anthropologists to spend lengthy periods in Fiji were American. Laura Thompson (1940) and Dorothy Spencer (1941) made important contributions, but they were young, the significance of new approaches to field work were still only in the making, and they had to contend with an image of Fijian society which had already become firmly established in the minds of administrators, missionaries, and even Fijians. Only Buell Quain (1948) broke through the limitations the image imposed, but he was fortunate enough to be dealing with a clearly distinct variant of Fijian society and to have a theoretical perspective which forced him to ask new questions.’

It is a little difficult to be sure which came first as a factor influencing the formation of the image of Fiji, the “chicken” of administrative convenience or the “egg” of anthropological theory. The data were certainly scrambled, and many of the questions were posed in ways which could lead only to unsatisfactory answers. Yet it is important to realize ‑ and central to my thesis ‑ that whatever the motivations, the questions and answers were consistent with a respectable body of anthropological theory. What is more, when they were related to practice, they worked and could be seen to work. Anthropological ideas and administrative policies were meshed together. Both were posited on the notion that a society described in ideal theoretical terms could and should work in practice; that variations from the ideal represented social impurities which administrative practice should treat with suspicion. Where anthropology

1 See also a later work, Sahlins, 1962.

Belshaw‑Anthropological Theory and Fiji                                        65

recognized social movement, as it did by implication when it recorded the distribution of variants of custom, it thought of movement toward or away from some stated ideal. Fijian society, in theory as well as by administrative reference, became the society of Bau. If the administrators had succeeded in making Bau the model for all Fijian society, as in effect they tried to do, there would have been little protest from the anthropologists. (As a matter of fact Fison did protest vigorously, which is perhaps why he is little quoted in the later literature.) Even before the advent of formal functionalism, stability was the theoretical norm of society and the ideal of administration. Unfortunately, stability became confused to some degree with stasis.

I shall now set out some of the typical formulations of the static viewpoint, contrasted with a point of view which incorporates my own personal bias.

There was, for example, the use of myth as social evidence. The relevant myths in this context were those which bore upon the exploits and migrations of social groups.

  Read the rest

Alsace – Cultural Separatism

Alsace – Separatism in Food

NOTE in 2001 :  This was intended to be a chapter in a travel-food book. Details will have changed enormously since 1990, but the general principles, the distinctions between foods, will be much the same. HOWEVER I would be most interested if you can send me information about those changes and what you find.  Do so by email here — appropriate comments will be incorporated into the text.  I Will add images when I find them !!!!   You can submit images too…………..

There are those who doubt the seriousness of the contribution of Alsace to great cuisine, and those who declare that in Alsace there is the most refined and advanced regional cooking of France. Most of those who adhere to the first viewpoint are foreigners whose idea of Alsace cooking (with some justification) is that of heavy weight-producing massive plates. I  know of only one small English language book that is totally devoted to the recipes of Alsace — most English writers concentrate on Provence, because they think of it as a better place to live. Tra la la, we’ll see about that.

French writers, chefs, and English writers who describe the regions of France in a single volume, know better. The Robert Freson volume on the Taste of France contains by far the best, very short, account I know of in English on the cultural roots of Alsace food. Paul Bocuse’s most recent compendium gives good weight to the Alsace. Elizabeth David only tips her hat, and Patricia Wells is quite summary. Before I left Vancouver, several of the better French style chefs declared to me that in Alsace you will find the most imaginative and inventive cooking in the country. Perhaps they are not far wrong.

Many of the well known traditional Alsace dishes, from choucroute garnie to baeckaoffa, from foie gras to kougelhopf are heavy, often highly salted, cooked with butter or bacon fat or cubes (lardons). At first sight, especially when caricaturely downed with copious draughts of beer, they are not consistent with modern international tendencies toward light food and small portions.

A choucroute royale  will be a mountain of preserved cabbage, larded and seasoned, heaped with gigantic pieces of back bacon, ham, pig’s knuckle, at least a couple of kinds of fatty sausage, frankfurters or Strasbourg sausages, and as many other meats as imagination dictates. The mountain can be consumed by a single person in a restaurant, although it is often prepared for several, and as such fits, not unreasonably, the image of the Alsacien as gourmand and massive eater. While this kind of eating can and does occur, the modern Alsacienne cannot be bothered doing all that, and can be just as concerned about weight as anyone else. Hence domestically, and in many restaurants, there is more emphasis now on smaller servings of choucroute as a modest accompaniment to lighter dishes, and there is innovation to find ways of using it with different taste combinations.

Choucroute itself is a complex food with as many variants as there are commercial, artisanal, or domestic producers. It consists of finely chopped cabbage hearts, the outer leaves and stalks discarded, pressed between layers of salt (mostly washed out before final presentation) and left for several weeks to ferment. The taste of the final product, from highly to moderately acidic, changes as the cabbage is stored after fermentation is stopped. There is almost as much interest as in Beaujolais nouveau for the first arrival of choucroute nouvelle in the boucheries and delicatessens, which can be any time from July (where I sampled it in Katzenthal) onwards. When cooked it may be seasoned with lardons, potato, juniper, herbs, or left to its natural taste, and may be served as the base of dishes like the one I described above or as a bed, or lit, for almost anything. Some of these concoctions I will mention when we get to the restaurants that innovate on the basis of traditional beginnings.

The use of salt for preservation and fermenting is an art the Alsaciens have developed highly. One can be taken aback at the proliferation of sea fish dishes in an inland region (local river fish having almost entirely disappeared as a public source of food through heavy pollution and over-fishing). But salted fish, particularly North Sea and Baltic herring, and smoked salmon and trout, are part of the traditional fare. True “fresh” fish is rare, as it was in early England. But long before the invention of the refrigerator or freezer, Alsatian traders perfected the art of transporting fish well packed in ice, so that sea fish was a common part of the diet.

The use of salt for preservation à la choucroute was extended to other products, especially navets, i.e. turnips, (now, alas, quite rare in public menus) which were once used like choucroute itself, and beans. Josianne Syren’s book, describing potée aux navets salés simply says, from a base of salted turnips, make the suriruewa just as you would a choucroute and with the same ingredients.

The heavy use of salt, sometimes subtle, sometimes extreme, turned out to be the main difficulty I had with Alsace diets. It turns up of course in prepared meats of almost infinite variety, in cheeses, in sauces, to a level that is not so universal in French national cooking (although always in France and Italy I am aware of it.) I do not know what effects if any there are on blood pressure in Alsace; I do know that my own rose significantly, though perhaps not for that reason.

You cannot be long in Alsace before you discover that the country is both France and Germany, but wishes to be neither. The people do not love their cousins outre-Rhin, yet many of their foods and their dialect have important similarities. They love even less the centralizing mania of French bureaucracy and political life, a lack of amity that we will find repeated in many parts of France.  Read the rest

Quintana Roo and its Mayan Arts (a.k.a. CANCUN and its Mayan Food)

Quintana Roo and its Mayan Arts

© Cyril Belshaw

NOTE in 2001 :  This was intended to be a chapter in a travel-food book. Details will have changed enormously since 1990, but the general principles, the distinctions between foods, will be much the same. HOWEVER I would be most interested if you can send me information about those changes and what you find.  Do so by email here — appropriate comments will be incorporated into the text.  I Will add images when I find them !!!!   You can submit images too…………..

Quintana Roo, as a phrase, probably doesn’t mean much to you. The Yucatan Peninsula probably means more. Cancun is that place in the sun that is touted as Mexico’s greatest shopping spree, the centre of the best scuba diving in the world, the resort you are planning to go to some day. They are all linked together.

The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has a line drawn through it, more or less NE to SW. On the western side is the State of Yucatan, capital the old Spanish-colonial city of Merida, most famous archaeological site Chichen Itza, where the Toltec observatory and pyramid do fabulous tricks at the equinoxes and solstices, attracting visitors like circus performances.

The indigenous people, and majority population, of Yucatan are Mayan (the Toltecs conquered them and were rulers for a time until the Spaniards put them in their place.)

On the eastern side of the line is the State of Quintana Roo, which contains the magnificent Mexican Caribbean coastline, with its resorts, beaches, reefs, environmental parks and non-Toltec ruins, each in competition, mostly destructive. Quintana Roo has only been a state since 1974. The people of Q.R. are Mayan too, but Mayan with a difference. They have been, and in some respects still are, determined separatists. Like the Indians of British Columbia, Canada, they do not consider themselves to have been legitimately conquered; but they lack the means to make an independence stick.

To understand this, you must know some things that are not in most of the history books. I looked through all the history books in English that were available in the poorly stocked book shops of Cancun (when you go to Cancun, the theory seems to be, you don’t go to read), many of them classics. Most of them do not even have Quintana Roo in the index. They give chapters to the wars and the twentieth century revolution; and the works of Presidents constitute the organizing themes, like the works of Renaissance princes (who did a lot better). But the Mayans of Q.R.? Zilch.

(There is a monograph I have not been able to consult by Nelson Reed, The Caste War of Yucatan, Stanford University Press, 1964; and a good summary of many features, but mainly dealing with events outside of Quintana Roo, in Demetrio Sodi Morales, The Maya World, published by Minutiae Mexicana, third edition, 1989.)

Yet.

The Spaniards made their influence felt, I won’t say dominant, from the very earliest years, from the sea. The first Spanish explorers were scared stiff at what they saw, sailing past the coastal fortress and religious city of Tulum, afraid of its extensive population. For years after some of the coastal islands became playgrounds of Caribbean pirates, literally. But eventually, by persistent efforts, the Spaniards prevailed, on the surface. From time to time they were faced with Mayan armed protest, sometimes small, sometimes massive, not only in Quintana Roo, but in Chiapas and Yucatan

In the middle of the nineteenth century, from 1847 to 1901, when their leader Santa Cruz de Bravo was captured and executed in the mystically famous town of the Talking Crosses, Chan Santa Cruz, the Mayans were in full fledged politico-religious revolt, known as the war of the castes. That was a long long time to be omitted from the history books. And long after the death of Santa Cruz there were forceful and psychological resistances in Quintana Roo. In all parts of Mayan country there are major examples of continuing religious syncretism, many with significant political overtones.

But then even by comparison with other states, to Mexico  Quintana Roo and its Mayans were marginal. There wasn’t much of an economy — a little fishing, and great copra estates on the coast. For the rest, the Mayans were, and to some extent still are, hidden in the forests of the great limestone plain.

Once the revolt was officially quashed, the Mexicans didn’t quite know what to do. They named Quintana Roo, not after a geographical or ethnic entity, but after a nineteenth century leader who was on the side of joining the Mexican State. The name continues to rankle among some. They gave Chan Santa Cruz the new name of Felipe Carrillo Puerto after a Mexican Revolutionary Governor, and made sure eventually that the streets of new towns honoured national Mexican patriots and archaeological sites, rather than Mayan heroes. They recognized that the Mayans of Q.R. were less tractable than those of Yucatan, within whose boundaries the territory formally lay, or at least they were less overlaid by Spanish-Mexican power — sporadic revolts were still going on. The solution was to create the present boundaries and establish a political Territory, directly ruled from Mexico.

It didn’t work. As I say, I don’t have a history book to tell me why. The period is an embarrassment to officials, politicians and historians. All I know, and of all things it comes from the text attached to a poorly drawn map of the area, is that in 1913 Q.R. was attached to Yucatan, in 1931 it was moved into the State of Campeche, and in 1935 after only four years it became a federal Territory again — until 1974. That does not sound like an easy-going peaceful kind of place.

If you cull the guide books carefully you occasionally get other snippets of information. You learn that much of the resistance was centred on the archaeological sites of Tulum and Cobal, and that Mayans still hold Tulum in religious awe, using it for ritual.  Read the rest

Claims on Irian

The Claims on Irian

(By a Correspondent in Australia)

[NOTE: This was written and submitted to The Economist some time prior to United Nations decisions on the issue.  In another piece, which I may find soon, advocated the creation of a “United States of Melanesia”, thinking of the islands from Irian to Vanuatu.]

The present deadlock in negotiations concerning the future of Dutch New Guinea focuses attention once again upon the rival claims and the possibility of armed conflict.

The basis of the Indonesian claim on Irian, as Dutch New Guinea is sometimes called, has received very little publicity in Australia. Holland was the first Western Power to establish an effective claim in New Guinea. Readers of Wallace and other early travellers may remember references to the weak and quarrelsome Sultanate of Ternate and Tidore in the Moluccas, the latter of whom claimed suzerainty over the coastline of New Guinea, which was then occasionally visited by traders, partic­ularly for slaves. The Dutch claim to this coastline arose when they established authority over the Sultanate and now, say the Indonesians, since the Sultanate has reverted to Indonesian control, so too should its original dominions

There has also been an ethnic claim, recently abandoned by the Indonesians themselves. There are of course linguistic and cultural affinities between the Indonesians and the peoples of Oceania; but these have become so modified over the centuries that it would take a very glib politician indeed to persuade  scientists of the validity of claims based upon them. Apart from one or two areas of close trading contact and the use of Malay as an official lingua franca they are weakest of all in Irian, where indigenous Malayo-Polynesian elements are hardly traceable.

At first sight, therefore, it would seem easy to rebut Indonesian claims. The Dutch do this principally on moral grounds. In effect they say to the Indonesians, “Your legal claim is no

stronger than ours. We can administer the country better. Therefore we have the moral duty to remain.” The question is, what grounds are there for believing that the Dutch will administer more effectively? To that question we can only give a partial answer. In Borneo and New Guinea Indonesian doctors, police, and other technical personnel have been an indispensable instrument of Dutch administration. Indonesians are now gaining experience in responsibility for indigenous peoples throughout their present territories. Meanwhile, the Dutch cannot be said to have developed New Guinea, which is commercially much more backward than the neighbouring Australian territories. Insecurity, which is likely to be permanent while Dutch and Indonesian claims conflict, prevents the attraction of Dutch capital thus placing them on the same level as the Indonesians, who are also said to lack capital. Apart from an occasional oil tanker and official plane, there is no communication with the territory. The strangest point in favour of Dutch administra­tion is that serious attempts are being planned in the field of native social development but even this owes much of its inspiration to the South Pacific Commission which presumably could inspire the Indonesians as well.

The attitudes of India and Australia to these claims are of some interest. India’s support of Indonesia is widely supposed to be based simply on friendship for a struggling neighbour. Indian writers, however, have long pointed to the huge sparsely-populated island as an outlet for Asian migrants and there is no doubt that Asian peasants, after some adaptation, could grow rice and other crops much more successfully than the present population. One wonders just what weight is given to migration in Indian and Indonesian opinion

3

This of course is the great fear of Australians, who see the possibility of Asians infiltrating into their own territories. bringing with them social problems and perhaps Communism. This fear has led to an intransigent attitude and the belief that Australians would take action against Indonesian control has no doubt contributed to recent softenings of Indonesian statements which at one time threatened armed invasion. Australian extremists have even advocated that Australia should administer Dutch New Guinea herself, though critics have pointed out that Australian resources are hardly adequate for the development and defence of  existing territories. The more recent Australian suggestion is that administration should be by Condominium government, with Indonesia, Australia and Holland probably leading to permanent frustration as in the New Hebrides. The Indonesians  themselves, perhaps realising their limitations when possession by Holland is nine points of the law, made the desperate suggestion that Holland should administer under Indonesian sovereignty.

 A review of these claims seems to indicate that none of them are strong enough to sway world opinion, and that the question will be decided rather in the darkness of balance of power, crowd hysteria, and the personal characters of those who sit around conference tables. Certainly the deadlock seems beyond peaceful solution except perhaps through United Nations mediation. In the meantime, despite Dutch allegations that the Papuan inhabitants of  the country would resist invasion by force , it is certain that all but the small elite are blissfully unaware of the issues as involved.  Read the rest

Origins of Canadian University Service Overseas, 1961

Let’s Amend the Peace Corps Idea and Create a Canadian Venture

 


[NOTE: This piece was the result of press opinion that young people in Canada were softies.  I submitted it to the magazine Maclean’s in June 1961, but it was not published because they had already run another piece – with a different message – in a recent edition.]

On June 19th, [1961] the Vancouver Sun carried an editorial commenting upon the views of Dr. John I Ross, Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Ross is reported to have remarked upon the university students of to-day: “Unexcited, pessimistic, unmoved by enthusiasm for anything……committed only to be uncommitted……” For the past few months I have been having a running argument with some of my colleagues who, like Dr. Ross, see “… no hope or rebellion.…..nice people, expertly polite.” This is a distressingly frequent opinion.

As I read it, I thought of some students I have known. Of Thora Hawkey, at this moment emerging, I hope unscathed, from the isolated cloisters of the Tenri University in Japan. She had gone, knowing no sentence of Japanese, to spend two years in this centre of a strong, militant expansionist Buddhist sect, with a fellow-Canadian as the only Westerner within reach, knowing full well that every pressure would be exerted upon her for her conversion And I thought of another student, Michael Ames, carrying out fieldwork in a Ceylon village, writing half—jocularly that he was washing elephants to earn some ready cash. I remembered, too, the way my office door was besieged when I announced to my class that I was off to do research in Fiji. The enthusiasts were prepared not only for the glamour, but for the hardships and disappointments. My colleagues in the University had already shown this when we depended on students to do the basic leg-work of research, living with British Columbia Indian families while we supervisors wrote up their data as a survey of contemporary Indian life.

Don’t sell the young people of Canada short. Don’t admit that they’re a bunch of physical and intellectual softies, without the stamina to face a challenge. Of course living is soft in the present condition of Canadian life, and there are many young men and women who would draw back if presented with any other alternative. But it is we, the adults, who have created such conditions, and let us not forget it. Don’t blame youth for our own ambitions and omissions. And if we want youth to be tough—minded, we should provide the openings for them to show what they can do.

At this moment at the University of Toronto, some dozen students, screened down from a group of fifty volunteers, are preparing for service in India, Sarawak, and possibly Ceylon. They will work abroad for a year, with Government and voluntary agencies, on minimal local rates of subsistence. The most exciting thing about this scheme is that it originated with students and is carried out by students, a whole army of them who worked night and day helping organize a drive for the funds necessary to provide the travel and ancillary expenses ($2,000 for each volunteer). The originator of the group which is known as Canadian Overseas Volunteers Who was Keith Spicer, a graduate student in political science, worked out the idea and received encouragement from Asian officials while he was gathering material in South East Asia for a thesis on Canada’s Colombo Plan. Even with the enthusiasm of his group, however, he found that if he were to make progress (for example, in fund-raising), he needed support from established seniors. His search for such support was one long disappointment, until he found ready recognition and sponsorship from Mr. Fred Stinson, a Toronto Member of Parliament.

Here is the critical question. Can student enthusiasm get the backing it needs from you and me without stifling it? Can we provide the resources, the continuity, and the support, without destroying initiative?

We have failed to recognize the direction of student interest.

In the parochialism of our citizenship, we have not fully recognized that the excitement of University life is largely because it is an international life. Important though the domestic issues of Canada may be, they lack the drama and challenge of the issues which confront the peoples of Asia and Africa. Here the fight for survival is real, not hidden behind the achievement of social security. Here the concept of common humanity is put to the test as technicians of many countries and persuasions work for the benefit of others. Here new societies are in the making, examining,  accepting, and rejecting many of the basic social assumptions that we tend to take for granted. And. here is one of the major challenges (together with those others which evoke a response from youth disarmament and control of nuclear fallout) to the future of mankind.

With characteristic imagination the Americans have seized upon this challenge and have based the Peace Corps movement upon it. “Movement” is indeed the right word, for despite the dampening effects of bureaucratization, the Peace Corps floats upon a ground swell of considerable magnitude. There must be literally scores of organizations in the United States, small and large, and mostly voluntary with funds drawn from the income of interested citizens, which are engaged in the task of sending young Americans abroad. The pity of it is that the Peace Corps phrase was ever coined.

For now the notion is inseparably bound up with the idea of Peace, which is the antithesis of war, and implies that young people going abroad are saving the world from cataclysm. While this hope is by no means irrelevant, in many of the potentially host countries, the notion has political overtones. It is inextricably mixed up with the Cold War, and countries can feel that they are being singled out for treatment because somehow their loyalty to the concepts of the West are in question. The American Peace Corps is now making brave attempts to live this notion down.  Read the rest

Origins of C.U.S.O 1961

Let’s Amend the Peace Corps Idea and Create a Canadian Venture

[NOTE: This piece was the result of press opinion that young people in Canada were softies.  I submitted it to the magazine Maclean’s in June 1961, but it was not published because they had already run another piece – with a different message – in a recent edition.]

On June 19th, [1961] the Vancouver Sun carried an editorial commenting upon the views of Dr. John I Ross, Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Ross is reported to have remarked upon the university students of to-day: “Unexcited, pessimistic, unmoved by enthusiasm for anything……committed only to be uncommitted……” For the past few months I have been having a running argument with some of my colleagues who, like Dr. Ross, see “… no hope or rebellion.…..nice people, expertly polite.” This is a distressingly frequent opinion.

As I read it, I thought of some students I have known. Of Thora Hawkey, at this moment emerging, I hope unscathed, from the isolated cloisters of the Tenri University in Japan. She had gone, knowing no sentence of Japanese, to spend two years in this centre of a strong, militant expansionist Buddhist sect, with a fellow-Canadian as the only Westerner within reach, knowing full well that every pressure would be exerted upon her for her conversion And I thought of another student, Michael Ames, carrying out fieldwork in a Ceylon village, writing half—jocularly that he was washing elephants to earn some ready cash. I remembered, too, the way my office door was besieged when I announced to my class that I was off to do research in Fiji. The enthusiasts were prepared not only for the glamour, but for the hardships and disappointments. My colleagues in the University had already shown this when we depended on students to do the basic leg-work of research, living with British Columbia Indian families while we supervisors wrote up their data as a survey of contemporary Indian life.

Don’t sell the young people of Canada short. Don’t admit that they’re a bunch of physical and intellectual softies, without the stamina to face a challenge. Of course living is soft in the present condition of Canadian life, and there are many young men and women who would draw back if presented with any other alternative. But it is we, the adults, who have created such conditions, and let us not forget it. Don’t blame youth for our own ambitions and omissions. And if we want youth to be tough—minded, we should provide the openings for them to show what they can do.

At this moment at the University of Toronto, some dozen students, screened down from a group of fifty volunteers, are preparing for service in India, Sarawak, and possibly Ceylon. They will work abroad for a year, with Government and voluntary agencies, on minimal local rates of subsistence. The most exciting thing about this scheme is that it originated with students and is carried out by students, a whole army of them who worked night and day helping organize a drive for the funds necessary to provide the travel and ancillary expenses ($2,000 for each volunteer). The originator of the group which is known as Canadian Overseas Volunteers

Who was Keith Spicer, a graduate student in political science, worked out the idea and received encouragement from Asian officials while he was gathering material in South East Asia for a thesis on Canada’s Colombo Plan. Even with the enthusiasm of his group, however, he found that if he were to make progress (for example, in fund-raising), he needed support from established seniors. His search for such support was one long disappointment, until he found ready recognition and sponsorship from Mr. Fred Stinson, a Toronto Member of Parliament.

Here is the critical question. Can student enthusiasm get the backing it needs from you and me without stifling it? Can we provide the resources, the continuity, and the support, without destroying initiative?

We have failed to recognize the direction of student interest. In the parochialism of our citizenship, we have not fully recognized that the excitement of University life is largely because it is an international life. Important though the domestic issues of Canada may be, they lack the drama and challenge of the issues which confront the peoples of Asia and Africa. Here the fight for survival is real, not hidden behind the achievement of social security. Here the concept of common humanity is put to the test as technicians of many countries and persuasions work for the benefit of others. Here new societies are in the making, examining,  accepting, and rejecting many of the basic social assumptions that we tend to take for granted. And. here is one of the major challenges (together with those others which evoke a response from youth disarmament and control of nuclear fallout) to the future of mankind.

With characteristic imagination the Americans have seized upon this challenge and have based the Peace Corps movement upon it. “Movement” is indeed the right word, for despite the dampening effects of bureaucratization, the Peace Corps floats upon a ground swell of considerable magnitude. There must be literally scores of organizations in the United States, small and large, and mostly voluntary with funds drawn from the income of interested citizens, which are engaged in the task of sending young Americans abroad. The pity of it is that the Peace Corps phrase was ever coined.

For now the notion is inseparably bound up with the idea of Peace, which is the antithesis of war, and implies that young people going abroad are saving the world from cataclysm. While this hope is by no means irrelevant, in many of the potentially host countries, the notion has political overtones. It is inextricably mixed up with the Cold War, and countries can feel that they are being singled out for treatment because somehow their loyalty to the concepts of the West are in question. The American Peace Corps is now making brave attempts to live this notion down.  Read the rest

The Burns Commission on the economic future of fiji

[NOTE:  This is the text of a broadcast recorded by the Canadian Broadcasting Commission for airing by the Fiji Broadcasting Commission in August 1961.  Since that time Fiji has become an exporter of many new products, some of which involve small industry. The reform of land is inhibited still by Fijian vested interests.]

The report of the Burns Commission is an outspoken and timely document. It contains a great deal of considerable value to the colony and any intelligent observer must be in general agreement with the main outlines, Of course, any informed person must have his own opinion about policy and direction of policy in Fiji, and the facts and interpretation of the facts upon which policy is based. The report attempts to be very wide in its scope and this is to be welcomed. But any such report, based as it is upon the work of busy people, must be patchy in some matters, and in my opinion, in this case the report does not go nearly far enough in others. It poses some very serious problems concerned with the rapid growth of population in the colony and the limitation of resources in the colony. And after having posed these questions and suggested some technical means of increasing production, and after having considered a number of the institutions of Fijian political life, it seems to me that the report does not answer the questions it has itself posed. 

My commentary is not that of a technician, not that of an agricultural officer, or of a political administrator, but of an informed observer of social behaviour and of social institutions. My work in Fiji ended about a year ago and therefore may be somewhat out of date in certain respects, And it is concerned mainly with the Fijian viewpoint, the viewpoint of the Fijian people, and is based upon fairly widespread contact with village Fijians in a limited area of the colony, namely Nadroga and Navosa. Nevertheless, from this low level viewpoint it is possible to see some of the wider implications of Fijian policy and some of the directions and tendencies that are built into the processes of Fijian society.

I must say that there are a large number of fundamental points and recommendations in the Commission’s report with which I am considerably in agreement. The agricultural section in particular is technologically sound and has been most outstanding in the way that it has concerned itself with the preparation and analysis of highly complex data. Of course, the Burns Commission was heralded well before it arrived and this data has been prepared over a considerable number of years. It is now  available to agricultural officers in the colony itself who, I am sure, will be able to draw the same conclusions in due time.

But it seems to me that this is not the most important section of the report in the long run. It’s something that competent agricultural officers could handle at any time. 

A number of the worth while minor points include the attack on the suggestion that there should be a produce tax for Fijians, the idea that the standards of low-cost housing are perhaps sighted a little too high, the notion that tax concessions should be the main point in supporting industry as it comes to the colony, and the emphasis upon roads as the means of communication, without which any sound economic development cannot take place. These points, of course, are obviously sound and useful, even though they seem to have been d down-played to a certain extent in the colony heretofor. 

The major points are ones which will, without doubt, cause considerable controversy and some difficulty in their application and these are the ones that are of most interest to us, and I am sure which are receiving a great deal of attention in the colony at the moment. The most important of these perhaps is concerned with land and I must say that I felt very refreshed after having read the report, and very encouraged by its head-on tackling of this very, very complex problem. The major innovation suggested in this connection is that Fijian lands should be subjected to a form of taxation which would possibly be extended to cover all the lands of the colony eventually. This taxation should be related to land use and it should be based upon the notion that the mataqali is, in essence, a corporate entity, responsible for the economic administration of the land. Now this I must say, is an important suggestion and one which is bound to cause  considerable heart searching, but to my way of thinking, it is absolutely  fundamental and is bound to have far reaching consequences in the  economic usage of Fijian lands. Now, having said that, I feel that perhaps the report could have gone just a little further in this  direction. It refers to the mataqali as the most practical ownership unit at the present time, for political reasons as much as for any other.  It suggests that the mataqali should be in a position of using its land as sound security for credit of one kind or another, provided it is not lost to the Fijian people. I feel that eventually the mataqali is going to be a kind of incorporated unit, a kind of firm in which the members will be, as it were, shareholders and will be able to deal with their property more or less as any commercial  firm does at the present time, provided that the land is not alienated without certain controls. 

Now, fairly close to Fiji is a country which  has had a good deal of experience with regard to this kind of matter and has developed a number of very interesting innovations to deal with the question of land tenure among indigenous peoples whose society is based upon kinship units, such as the mataqali. I refer, of course, to the situation among the Maori of New Zealand and I feel that it would pay Fijian officials, Fijian leaders, to make a very close study of what has happened in New Zealand in this regard.   Read the rest