Dr. Livingstone, may not be such the hero we once presumed.
New digital imaging technology and a team of scholars have recovered David Livingstone’s faded journal entries from the period when the colonial era explorer had lost contact with his European benefactors 140 years ago.
As the introduction of Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition states, the digital project “reveals for the first time the original record of a remarkable and traumatic period in the life of David Livingstone, the celebrated British abolitionist, missionary, and explorer of Africa.”
While on an expedition to find the source of the Nile River, Livingstone encountered illness and other types of hardships. He had lost contact with his European suppliers and required the benevolence of traders and locals to survive. His experiences would be later immortalized by Henry Morton Stanley’s dispatches to the New York Herald. The journal materials cover his most challenging crisis, the one that helped encourage the Crown’s crackdown on the slave trade in East Africa and thus, cementing Britain's dominance in the region.
The journal was written on an old newspaper using ink made from berries and other natural pigments. Until Spectral Imaging Project used ultra-violet and infrared light to dim the newsprint and bring out the faded ink, scholars have settled for the account as it was reported in the international press of the time and as reproduced in its various cultural manifestations. Now, the materials, available online, are making it possible for researchers to revise what has been a nearly unchallengeable history.
The big, bad Iran nuclear threat is one of the American news media’s favorite evergreen stories. Year after year, it picks up where it left off: Enrichment, sanctions, red lines, the usual.
In November, the media circus on Iran exploded. From Foreign Affairs’ catastrophe “Time to attack Iran,” to The New York Times Magazine’s seemingly-million-word “Will Israel attack Iran?” (Conclusion: Yes, this year), to The Atlantic’s new “Iran War Clock” (It’s 10 minutes to midnight, by the way), the blockbuster stories that paint broad strokes of fear, panic, and war keep rolling out.
At a time when 71 percent of Americans incorrectly believe Iran has nuclear weapons and nearly 90 percent view the country unfavorably, fiction in the American press has grown so pervasive that it has become it’s own reality. A headline like “What Happens After Israel Attacks Iran?” normalizes the idea of war and assumes it as inevitable.