[Note: I originally made this my first post, but it quickly got so buried beneath other posts I thought to make it a page and explain the purpose and general aim of this blog. Enjoy!]
Before making the web suffer another blog, I thought it useful to introduce my purpose for this specific blog as well as provide an example of the sort of material and approach the reader will find here.
A Personal Introduction
My name is Nathan Albright, and I am a historian. (This is an ominous beginning–it sounds like one is introducing one’s self at a Historians Anonymous meeting.) I am currently seeking to enter a Ph.D program in history in 2011. I currently have an M.A. in Military History from Norwich University, where I graduated this past June. I have a dissertation topic in mind for my Ph.D, which I am already conducting preliminary research for, though I wish not to bore you on that topic at present. I have no doubt that many future blog entries will be about the process of researching for a dissertation–including reading, travel to dangerous foreign lands, and endless hours spent pouring over archival data.
A Note on the Title of the Blog
The title of this blog is “Edge Enduced Cohesion.” I thought that it would be worthwhile at the beginning to explain what that means and why I have entitled this blog so. In the book War And Peace And War: The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations, cliohistorian Peter Turchin comments a lot about how group identities (in other words, ethnicities) are formed as a result of the process of hostility towards other, alien identities around them. Social cohesion (asabiya, in Arabic) is formed as the result of conflict across metaethnic frontiers with those whose culture and worldview are so alien that there is mutual revulsion and incomprehensibility across the boundaries of the two cultures. As a result of fierce conflict and warfare, a strong cohesion with one’s cohorts of the same worldview is formed.
Therefore, as a historian interested in how cultures break apart and join together (to explain why I am interested in that at this juncture would be too personal), I wish to have my history blog reflect this aspect of social cohesion being the result of fierce conflict. By temperament, religious beliefs, educational background, and personal history I have a very strong interest in warfare and conflict on various levels and its repercussions. As a historian, I seek to understand those conflicts that I see around me and participate in, as well as understand why the world is the way it is in detail, and explain it to others.
A Note on the Content of This Blog
This blog, being about the life and studies of a historian, will contain various types of posts. I will try to provide the reader, through the use of tags, with fair warning as to the type of entry is present. Some of them will be posts about the life and activities of a historian. These would include (hopefully) posts about the process of being a graduate assistant, conducting interviews, applying for research grants, traveling to foreign lands, pouring through archives to find the right information, and so on. Some of the posts will be about my thoughts on various historical subjects. Some of these will be original to this blog, but others will be reprints on various other matters already published elsewhere (like Facebook) or already present in my personal archive of writings, but relevant to my behavior and philosophy as a historian. Included here would be essays I wrote as a Master of Arts student, my thoughts on the origin and conduct of the American Civil War (warning: I am a huge fan of the Union and of Abraham Lincoln in particular) or some other historical matter (I have written and studied a lot on Asian and Latin American history as well), or book reviews on my historical reading (which there is a large backlog of in my archives). It is my hope that the content on this blog will be accessible to non-historians, but I am always willing to explain when it is not, if asked.
A Note on My Approach to Moderating
I am fond of lively and spirited conversation (as anyone who knows me personally or through online debates can attest), but there are a few things I will not tolerate on this blog or its comments, and I thought it fair to tell those ahead of time. No spam links will be permitted. Additionally, there will be no toleration of any malicious slander towards anyone, or any group of people. There are blogs and fora where such speech is encouraged and tolerated–this is not one of them. Additionally, I will not tolerate any hostile speech directed at me or my views–such comments will be deleted, and if persisted, such people responsible will be blocked. You have been warned. Other than those restrictions, I welcome the conversation of other students of history. That said, let us begin.