Week 2 Reading Reflection

At issue this week, is the discussion of how ideas about the medieval period have been incorporated into popular discourse. There are two main ideas that are relevant from this week’s readings. The first is the borrowing of chivalric values from the middle ages and the problems that lie with this. The second is the idea of the constructed nation, and how the use of texts and ideas from the middle ages help in the construction of these groups.

It is important to consider how ideas of chivalry affected the actions and ideas of groups, such as the KKK, as mentioned in Amy Kaufman’s article. She discusses the idea that these ideas are appropriated in order to make the members of these organizations feel more secure because they are looking back and dreaming of the patriarchal society of the Middle Ages. However, it is important to look at how these ideas have been taken out of context, warped and applied in ways that are not in keeping with historical fact.

This leads to one of the other main themes that I saw in these readings – the construction of groups (as nations, or social groups) based on “facts.” It is clear from what Patrick Geary says in both his article and podcast that these ideas are constructed to suit certain groups, and by extension disadvantage others. If we understand these histories as being constructed we must ask ourselves: who is telling this story, and to what end? It seems to me that the ultimate goal of these narratives is control and to assert that control by creating an identity.

My Introduction

I am an english exchange student from the reading History and Latin at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I arrived at Carleton University in September 2017 to complete one year away from Edinburgh to broaden my intellectual sphere and to do as much travelling as possible.

I am an avid sports player and fan. I came to Canada mainly to snowboard wherever possible.

I am originally from Bath in the south-west of England. This is where I established my love for the Latin language as it is an incredibly beautiful Roman city, built on a hot spring, making it a Roman bathing town. From this, I also developed a love of history, but focussed more on recent history. I particularly enjoy studying 19th and 20th century European history, up to present. There are such a wide array of sources on so many mediums available now that did not exist in earlier centuries. This gives an incredibly broad scope for discussion and analysis, which can become limited and dominated by assumptions. Within this timeframe, my preoccupation has been with political and economic history in Germany and the US. I find the creation of new nations and national identity extremely intriguing.

The element that drew me to this course the most was the analysis of articles from present newspapers and journals. I think it is very important to engage with current affairs in order to understand the discipline of history. This is incredibly interesting time in politics, with Trump as President of the US and the Catalonia dispute, and in history for the future, with current the nuclear crisis. I look forward to discussing these issues with similar like minded people in the class and working together to understand such complex issues.


Hello! My name is Morrigan, and I am a fourth year student who is majoring in English and doing a minor in History. As someone who is in the last semester of their undergrad, I thought it would be useful to take classes, like this one, that help me to better understand the current state of the world and how we got to where we are today.

My interest in history and literature stemmed from my love of reading, which is something I plan on doing a lot more of once I am finished school and have more free time. Some of my favourite books include Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane Austen’s novels, and of course the Harry Potter series. I also enjoy historical fiction and fantasy, which could explain my interest in real history.

My academic interests generally lie in the ‘long’ 19th century (approximately the time from the French Revolution to WWI) – many of my favourite books are from this period. However, I enjoy all types of history and literature. I like the way that literature and history allow us to understand other perspectives, and for me, especially the experiences of women in history. I find it important to understand precedents in order to understand why we are where we are now.

I am looking forward to the issues that will be discussed in this class because they will help me to understand the present. I am hoping that understanding the past as it relates to populism will make the path forward a little more clear. I also am interested in understanding how the political and social tensions we feel today reflect those of the past. Overall, I hope that this class will help us understand the past so that we can learn from it, and hopefully not make the same mistakes

Also, here is a link to my personal blog: https://morrigansinsights.wordpress.com



I am in the last few classes of my degree, therefore, it seemed like an optimal time to take some classes that both are electives, and develop a personal curiosity.  I have been working in social work and social services for the last ten years, and currently have a management position managing several staffing teams in an emergency shelter. Working within addiction, mental health, various forms of abuse, and other destructive behaviors people routinely engage in, has definitely influenced my world view, and view on human nature in general. My academic background is psychology and its biological underpinnings, however, I like to think I am a diligent student of history and geography. It may be mundane to some, but I see history as a long, unbroken, historical narrative based on human action followed by social or systemic reaction.

I am currently engaged to a truly wonderful woman. I enjoy archery, shooting, being in the woods, Jeeps, and I am an avid collector of antiques.

I took this class because it spoke to the political, and legal conflict I see in the media every day, and to be honest, I do not fully understand. The nations that constitute the post-war order are portrayed to be under attack both externally, and internally. In the western media populist leaders seem to advocate not trusting judiciary, the press, other branches of government, and calling for the jailing of political dissent. All this is predicated on the premise that migration, legal liberalism, constitutional and human rights, are synonymous with terrorism (or crime), wasteful bureaucracy, and human rights no longer needed.

I am looking forward to learning more about this phenomena, as well as the many points of view this class will bring forth. I feel this plurality will add depth and understanding to the complex historical, legal, and political issues we will be discussing, because the truth always resists simplicity.







To begin with, I am pursuing a major in History, I have already obtained a Japanese minor and I am in the beginning stages of getting a CTESL certificate for teaching English overseas.

Some would consider it pretentious to point out that I want to be a novelist, but that is exactly what I am going to do here. It is my life’s ultimate ambition. So far, in my third attempt to write a novel that would actually be worth reading, I have written approximately 10,000 words of acceptable quality (in my opinion).

…I have rewritten that second paragraph four times and I still find that it sounds pretentious. Oh well.

My pen name, as garish as it sounds, can be explained by pointing out two things about myself: “Nikolai” comes from my love for Russian novelists and “Narcisse”, which I nicked from a character on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, comes from the fact that I am an overly opinionated man with a big mouth, a combination which has led some to think of me as being narcissistic. You can decide whether that is accurate. In class, I respond to the name Julian.

As far as history goes, I have come to adore East Asia (Japan in particular) after taking practically every course that Professor Jacob Kovalio has offered. My general interests are somewhat scattered–the French Revolution, the Jacobin Terror, the disaster at Chernobyl, Nazism, North Korea, The Crusades, the dangers posed by religion in modern society, the impending arrival of artificial intelligence, the music scene in Manchester from the 1970s through to the 1990s, et cetera.

The people whose work I admire (whether it is artistic or intellectual) are Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Murray, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Orwell, Saul Bellow, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, H.P. Lovecraft, James Joyce, Bret Easton Ellis, Ian Curtis, Noel Gallagher, Nicolas Winding Refn and Stanley Kubrick (to name a few).

My blog, called “Atrocity Exhibitionist”, can be found here:


I think I have written enough here, don’t you?



Rebecca Sekine Bio

Hi! My name is Rebecca Sekine and I am a third year double major in History and Humanities. I’m from Burlington, Ontario and moved to Ottawa in 2015 to pursue my undergraduate degree here at Carleton. I hope this class will help me gain a comprehensive comparison between different examples of populism in history.

Who am I as a historian? I became entranced with history at a very young age through the “Dear Canada” diaries at my public library, where I became fascinated with topics such as the Titanic, the Spanish Influenza, and the First World War. My particular field of interest lies in ancient civilizations, early modern thinkers, and the very early 20th century.

Who am I as a person? I grew up a figure skater, I love to draw and paint, and I have a love for the theatre. I am an avid reader and my favourite genres are science fiction, fantasy, and romance. I would love to get to know everyone in this class! I work at Rooster’s Coffeehouse on campus, come visit me anytime!

https://rebeccasekinehistory3907b.wordpress.com Here’s a handy link to my personal blog


Welcome students in the History of Populism class. Here you will craft your weekly responses to our readings and respond to the in-class discussion. Take a few moments to introduce yourself.

I look forward to what comes next!



The Return of Hate 2.0

This research blog, devoted to how civil society has met the challenge of the rise and appeal of populist movements in Europe and the US, lay dormant for a spate while members of the Hate 2.0 team carried on with our other projects. It is now time to resurrect it. In what follows, students in HIST 3907/PCSI 3809 will blog about course readings and write Op/Eds on current events, bringing the tools of historical analysis to bear on contemporary problems shaping our world.

Buddhist Extremism on the Eve of Transition in Burma

 In discussions of contemporary religious extremism, Burma (Myanmar) is often overlooked. Yet in the past year, a Buddhist extremist movement in Burma known as 969 has become one of the most influential extremist groups today. 969 is the main vehicle for persecution and violence against the country’s minority Muslim population. In the last year, attacks which were largely contained in the western Rakhine state have now spread to the centre of the country suggesting that the violence is on the rise. According to a 2013 Human Rights Watch report, “125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims have been displaced while thousands of others have been killed or injured”[i]. While police have not formally charged or linked the violence to members of 969, the attacks are widely reported by citizens and local media to be a product of the movement’s inflammatory anti-Muslim politics[ii].

 Ashu Wirathu, a Buddhist monk, is the founder and leader of 969. Under the former military regime Wirathu was jailed from 2003 to 2012 for inciting religious hatred. However as part of the current government’s reform process, political prisoners including Wirathu (and most notably Aung Sung Suu Kyi) continue to be sporadically released. Paradoxically, Wirathu now preaches with no opposition from the government. The Prime Minister of Burma Thein Sein has denounced critics of Wirathu even calling him “a son of Buddha”[iii]. In a period of extraordinary political and economic transition, 969 has achieved widespread popularity for its aggressive Buddhist nationalist political agenda in a time of great change and uncertainty.

 The troubling narrative of 969 is that Muslims are “taking over” Burma. According to the group, Muslims are dominating the economy by taking over Buddhist shops, wrongfully acquiring  Buddhist land, and abusing and stealing Buddhist women to achieve a Muslim majority. To address these “problems”, 969 is openly advocating for vaguely defined population control measures in order to maintain Burma’s Buddhist majority. 969 has received approximately 2.5 million petition signatures in favour of its aggressive anti-inter-marriage campaign.  The petition was also recently endorsed at a meeting of Buddhist leaders which implies the motion will be recommended to parliament[iv].

 Unlike many radical groups, Wirathru embraces the depiction of himself and 969 as extremist movement. Speaking to the BBC he said, “At first the word extremist felt very bitter but later it became sweet. I have a deep love for this country”[v]. In the same interview, Wirathu also remarked that  “when alone Muslims usually behave well” but “in large packs they hunt on other animals”[vi].

 The danger of Wirathu’s comments is further compounded by his “celebrity monk” status.  At 969 public speaking events, the crowds that come to see Wirathu are often in the hundreds. DVDs of past speeches and Wirathu’s written works are readily available. At a speaking event attended by the BBC, there was also a large display of highly graphic images of people allegedly killed in past clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, further encouraging a culture of distrust and hatred[vii]. Stickers with the 969 prayer wheel insignia were also available. Buddhist shopkeepers are encouraged to display them in their windows to encourage loyalty to Buddhist stores, effectively introducing a culture of segregated shopping.

 969 also appears to be increasingly dedicated to fostering a greater audience in Burma and beyond via the internet. A keyword search for “Ashin Wirathu” on YouTube reveals pages of recorded speeches.  His book, The Guilty Side of the Burmese Regime, is also available on Amazon.com with the embarrassing approved biographical description; “well respected monk…active in movement for freedom of religion and human rights”[viii].  In June 2013, a Facebook fan page was also created for Wirathu. The page has 1470 “likes”, and the comments display a polarizing exchange between supporters and critics. Many of the offensive comments posted about Burma’s Muslims echo details from the 969 anti-Muslim narrative including that Buddhists are overwhelmingly under attack from Muslims. For example poster “Cat Ji” commented that Buddhists, “are bullied in every town…every single word he [Wirathu] says is true”[ix]. It remains unclear whether the fan page was created by 969. The dispersion of 969’s anti-Muslim narrative across a variety of online platforms underscores the extremity of the group’s message. That such a discourse exists on three well known websites without controversy is also arguably indicative of a continued lack of awareness or attention to Burma’s Buddhist extremism problem from the international community.  

 However technology is also being used to raise awareness of anti-Muslim violence in Burma. At one of the deadliest massacres in the central city of Meikhtila this past March, cell phones were used to record the horrific scene and the footage is said to clearly show Buddhist monks and the police participating in the violence[x].  Such videos have been an instrumental help to human rights groups and the media seeking to gage the situation in Burma. Yet despite this public criticism and the overwhelming posted footage of the massacres online, no formal acknowledgement of the attacks or investigation has been launched by the government[xi].

 Further troubling is the chillingly non-committal stance maintained by Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the opposition Aung San Suu Kyi.  In a recent interview with the BBC, Suu Kyi expressed that she does not feel the killings should be considered ethnic cleansing and stressed that “fear on both sides” is the main social problem.  Suu Kyi also commented; There’s a perception that Muslim power, global Muslim power, is very great. And certainly that is the perception in many parts of the world, and in our country, too”[xii]. Suu Kyi’s statements appear to be a political tactic with the 2015 presidential election in mind. To be elected, she would need the support of the majority Buddhist population. However whether Suu Kyi will be able to run also remains to be seen. Section 59 of the constitution prevents individuals with foreign born descendants from running and was specifically entered to bar her from the presidency. So far motions to appeal the constitution have been ignored[xiii].

 In defence of her comments Suu Kyi has since stated that she “is a politician not a saint”[xiv].  However politician or not, as an iconic figure of peace inside Burma and internationally, Suu Kyi’s voice is needed in the discussion perhaps more than ever. The greatest advantage that 969 enjoys is the silence of the majority population. Fear and violence have a leader in Wirathu and despite its current overtures to democratization, the Thein Sein government has consistently demonstrated its unwillingness to intervene.  The future of Burma could very well hang on the action (or inaction) of the Buddhist majority.  Without a concerted effort to silence and discredit the fear-mongering narratives of 969 and its supporters, Burma faces the heartbreaking reality of emerging from a decades long political nightmare only to enter a new period of division and brutality.

[i] Human Rights Watch. “All you can do is prey: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State”. Human Rights Watch. April 2013. Pg 19. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/04/22/all-you-can-do-pray-0 (date accessed November 28, 2013).

[ii] Michaels, Samantha. “In Burma, Mixed Reactions to Suu Kyi’s BBC Statements”. The Irrawaddy. 25 October 2013. http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/burma-mixed-reactions-suu-kyis-bbc-statements.html (date accessed November 28, 2013).

[iii] Hindstrom, Hanna. “Burma president backs anti-Muslim ‘hate preacher’ Wirathu”. DVB. 24 June 2013. http://www.dvb.no/news/politics-news/burma-president-backs-anti-muslim-‘hate-preacher’-wirathu/28955 (date accessed November 28, 2013).

[iv] Heart and Soul. “969: How Burma’s Buddhist Monks Turned on Islam”. The BBC. 1 September 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fnz3d (date accessed November 28, 2013)

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[ix] https://www.facebook.com/AshinWirathu (date accessed December 1, 2013).

[x] Heart and Soul. “969: How Burma’s Buddhist Monks Turned on Islam”. The BBC. 1 September 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fnz3d (date accessed November 28, 2013)

[xi] Pittman, Todd. “Massacre Of Muslims In Myanmar Ignored”. The Huffington Post. 13 June 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/06/massacre-muslims-myanmar_n_3554547.html (date accessed December 8, 2013).

[xii] Michaels, Samantha. “In Burma, Mixed Reactions to Suu Kyi’s BBC Statements”. The Irrawaddy. 25 October 2013. http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/burma-mixed-reactions-suu-kyis-bbc-statements.html (date accessed November 28, 2013).

[xiii] Pederson, Rena. “Things are Changing in Burma-or Are They?” The Huffington Post, 3 December 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rena-pederson/things-are-changing-in-bu_b_4380090.html (date accessed December 3, 2013).

[xiv]DVB. “I’m a politician not a saint, says Suu Kyi”. DVB 28 November 2013 https://www.dvb.no/news/im-a-politician-not-a-saint-says-suu-kyi-burma-myanmar/34733 (date accessed December 4 2013)