Europe, Smallpox, Measles discussed on Jewish History Matters


With sort of set of beliefs. Really at the heart heard of it for them right right. I WanNa go back to something you said before you were talking about the publishing of scientific research today. There's one thing that could be said about the the publishing of Peace talks about how to construct a bio weapon or smallpox or something but how to Three D. print into gun o s a great example right But I think one thing that really strikes me think about research on vaccines and whether they are harmful or not and and I mean So many of the papers have been debunked that that makes the case that vaccines are harmful. You know clearly necessary but one might ask. Is it a public flick. Danger to publish papers that even ask the question to begin with because it provides fodder for people to begin to say you know what I don't want to vaccinate my kid for measles and and then this becomes a public danger one of the things that this interesting as we talk about censorship and we think about it in the early modern context is that it highlights the ways in which ideas are powerful full and that I generally not a fan of censorship. You but I think that that was interesting about looking at the history of censorship is that it raises all sorts of very difficult Colton unsettling questions about the role of censorship in a society whether or not is useful in some instances I think I I think that generally speaking censorship is something that we should avoid but when we look at it in historical context to ask. Why did they wanted this so badly? Why do people go along with it and it? What can we learn from that? I think that there's is a very important question. I think the question to which there aren't easy answers but I think it's helpful to understand that these are questions that we've struggled with for many many centuries I mean I think one of the examples again the vaccine example. We think about this as calling the efficacy of vaccines into question in the first place opens up the question of whether or not they are effective to people who don't understand the science behind it and makes them active participants in in that conversation even if they don't understand the science this gets to the idea of an expert and a certain point you have to question like so. How different is it from saying that the the Catholic Church thinks that you shouldn't be able to read the Bible unless you read it in the Latin vulgarity? They're gonNA come up with different ideas if you're only reading it in the Latin. Ah In in the in the vernacular these are sort of the same questions about who should have access to information and these are questions that we have to grapple with a democracy like in a democracy we think that information should move freely and the people should be informed but that requires a great deal of thinking especially in this era of expertise. I think I think we're in an era era of sort of deep expertise in which people have huge deep learning and then we both need to respect that and also not isolate late them as the only people who are able to them participate in that conversation. This is one of the lessons maybe from thinking historically about censorship Yeah I mean I think. Think one of the challenges is that you know we do live in. An era of experts packs are often ignored. Part of what happens is well when we talk about sort of our own era is that experts censor themselves when we look at the history of censorship. It trains are I to look for the ways in which censorship exists Whether we're talking about self censorship or or any other kind of censorship in our own society and makes us think seriously about what constitutes information control troll and when that feels like censorship. When it doesn't yeah I mean I'm partial to thinking about questions of information control? That's the central question that it drives my own research in terms of the history of archives. It's a different kind of control but I mean if we brought in the way of thinking about censorship that it's not just about the books and the text but about the ideas it allows us to look at a whole bunch of different historical contexts alongside it for instance when we think about the Jewish context and the and the inquisition cushion and the inclusion of course did not just target crypto Jews they they targeted native Americans extensively as well when we think about throughout central and South America. But I think that that was interesting is that we think what the dynamics of the control of information there as well. It's it's there's something very very important going on that. We need to think about in the early modern era And Censorship is part of that story there. Yeah and I'm glad you brought up the inquisition. It's important always to differentiate shade also. There are many inquisitions right inquisition. The Spanish inquisition. The Portuguese inquisition the Roman inquisition. The Venetian inquisition the medieval inquisitions that are based in cities. So just just as a as has a heads up there. These are different Legal structures involved in different places and their rules are slightly different. But I think that one of the things that's really interesting here is that the inquisition is all about control. Role of people and their ideas and the congregation of the index of prohibited. Books is about the control of texts. But these things you might realize the control of ideas he has in the control of texts. In the control of people are all intertwined at the same time this becomes is actually one of the things that I'm quite interested in studying is how these Different Regulatory Tori bodies Conflict at times or come into conversation with each other different times the archives that I work in when I'm working in the Vatican archives of the congregation agregation of the doctrine of the faith which holds the archives of both the inquisition and the index of prohibited books. So it's it's helpful to put both of those things into into context together one for controlling heresy. The other for controlling books and books as spread heresy in particular Right so I guess especially when we try to think about the relationship between the censorship of Medical and scientific texts and the context of Jewish history. Ustry what what is the relationship there when we think about the relationship between for instance the inquisition and the index or any other sort of elements of thinking about the intersection of of these two realms. But do you think that it's mostly just in terms of the conceptual frameworks that we can apply from one to the other. It's not just conceptual frameworks. Though these are governing bodies that are in a certain sense both responsible for the same thing but maybe in different media. Yeah and so. There are times at which the inquisition is intervening and in fact when when it should be the index and vice versa Though mostly settled by the seventeenth century mid to elite seventeenth century but over the course of the sixteenth seventeenth centuries when we spoken about reading licenses the ability to grant reading licenses bounces back and forth between the inquisition and the congregation of the index of prohibited books. So it's There are these aspects of censorship that as the Catholic bureaucracy itself is evolving these different parts these different kinds of regulations and up in different hands at different times. And I think that it's like really. I think it's really important to break down that when we talk about the church and this is probably true for thinking about Judaism in different times and places as well but when we talk about the church the church is made up of a bunch of different actors. A bunch of different factions. And I think that when we think about the inquisition and end the congregation of the index as separate bodies that allows us to see the people who are part of those groups Acting sort of in their own interest in the interest entrusted their beliefs that that comes out much more clearly right. I mean I think the other thing to always keep in mind as well is that we are talking about Catholic censorship in particular all right and there were of course many many diverse censorship regimes Throughout Europe at this time absolutely censorship is ubiquitous in early. It is everywhere. There's state censorship and it's to point out that when I talk about Catholic censorship that that's also state censorship right because I'm talking about the papal states that controlled much Italy In this period so yes it's religious censorship but it's also political censorship but all all states have censorship regimes. They're rate ways that you have to license a book before it can be printed much of what we've been talking about is tax that are already printed in already circulating that are being censored but censorship happens at multiple levels roles in many different sort of governing the level of many different governing authorities Right so I guess someone to think about here. Is You know like what are some of the the distinguishing features of these different censorship regimes. And and how they apply to the different areas where they are accent. Yeah I think one of the most important things to bear in mind especially as we think about sort of along the way or a long history of censorship is the biggest difference in my view between censorship in the early modern period and censorship today the level of secrecy people in early modern Europe knew what they weren't allowed to know when the index of prohibited books is published that means that it's printed it's nailed to the doors of churches and read aloud from pulpits. That's what it means to publish not just the printed but that it is literally made public people so people know what books they aren't supposed to read and I think that that's very different from when we think about sort of censorship regime today a day where we don't even necessarily know what it is that we're missing there's a level of secrecy that's just sort of maybe in someways beyond the early modern imagination that's quite different right. I mean I wasn't sure how much we're gonNA talk about this. But I mean it's it seems like a great example of this one takes for instance the Muller report. We don't no what it was that that was redacted from the report. We have a sense of some of the things in some of the reasons why things have been redacted but we don't know what could be. There could be anything with the same thing about any other government document that is redacted submitted foia request for some kind of documentation. They're required to blot out. You know expurgate you might say some information and there's no way to really know if they are removing things that they should or things that they just don't want you to see you know. I'm not sure I would call that censorship in of itself. But but I think that you raising an interesting point here about to a certain extent. We don't know but we don't know I'm sure you know this already. But the freedom of Information Act requests some of the things that have to come out of those in. This isn't censorship to my view. This it's about privacy if you're certain kinds of medical information what about people has to always be removed but incredibly onerous process to do this and it's always an incredibly onerous process to go through and figure out what materials to come out but my understanding is that there are some sort sort of ideas kicking roundabout ways of sort of using blockchain to automate those kinds of processes in having a reading some of this material in order to do that level of redaction. which again? I don't think it's the same as censorship. We have to always ask when we are trying to figure out if information is removed if it's censorship or not we have to understand the context accent great. That's what gets us the answer to that question. I think that what is interesting about all of this is that it highlights a couple of things about kind of our modern modern information age. That are again. Perhaps different from the early modern period in you know really interesting in these distinctive ways the first one being that there is just too much information formation to censor that if we tried to take the same methods of censorship that were being utilized in in Sixteenth Century Italy for instance it. This would be impossible. It's just not practical then again. Of course you look at China and they have put into place a very effective censorship regime in terms of the Internet there and and so that's one thing is that it highlights the different scale of the amount of information it limits to the censorship in it also highlights the ways in which algorithms play play a role in censorship. or in at least filtering information and this comes down to some perhaps touchy political issues. You have people on on the conservative side of the political spectrum making claims that there are kind of censorship this taking place say on social media platforms. I actually think that that's like totally overblown. It was interesting there. Is that the the US the idea of censorship to hold up and say this is what's happening now. Of course. There's no way to prove that such censorship is is happening but but what is interesting about that is it. Highlights the pervasive idea of what is censorship among the public and this idea also of the role of computers and algorithms like Ai. Or whatever that could be put to use in censorship Even if it's not because we don't know what's being censored and what we're seeing versus what we're not people can come to this conclusion. Even if it's not really based on any data yeah I think one of the things that my research adds is constant reminder that you can't have censorship without outs sensors as I mean..

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