Gettin’ High

About a week and a half ago, I was lucky enough to actually go into the field and start doing research. Which meant, of course, that I got to rest my butt about 60 feet up an Acer macrophyllum tree for the first time.

It. Was. Spectacular.

The day was beautiful to begin with – it was sunny, the birds were chirping, the mosquitoes were biting – and it just got better when I was far above the solid ground. I looked around and saw nothing but sun-specked green for as far as I could see. Plus, the mosquitoes go away once you get far enough off the ground, so that also helped.

Needless to say, being so high in the canopy changed my perspective. But it didn’t do so in the typical “I saw the world from above” sense, as rock climbing has given me that sensation far too many times. But I’ve never been so far above the ground on another living thing, surrounded by thousands of living things. Before climbing the tree, I knew that research on these trees was important, but I didn’t really know why. Afterwards, however, the meaning behind what I’m doing became clear: these trees are beautiful, complex, and full of life. I want to do all that I can to have other people understand that, as well.

We return to the field in 4 days, and, needless to say, I can’t wait to get high again.

The research team, listed from left to right:  Dr. Carrie Woods, Kimmy Ortmann, McKinley Nevins, Eric Hartel, and myself (Micaela Seaver)

The research team, listed from left to right:
Dr. Carrie Woods, Kimmy Ortmann, McKinley Nevins, Eric Hartel, and myself (Micaela Seaver)



Some musings on Budapest and historical memory

Hi dear reader,

Thanks for finding your way here. I’m honored that my writing gets to be a part of your day. Broadly, this blog is a place for me to publicly reflect on my summer spent doing archival research at Stanford University, as well as in Hungary and Poland. I’m in the process of writing on Polish government propaganda’s use of Polish-West German relations in its efforts to discredit Radio Free Europe during the Cold War  That’s a lot, I know, but I will save the focused historical analysis for my final article, meaning that this forum will be a place for more personal musings.IMG_2998

Budapest is a funky place. Parts of it seem as if they could be in any other central European capital on the well-beaten tourist track. Sweepingly grand buildings and boulevards quickly grab one’s eyes, as well as those of the masses of tourists bussed from scenic spot to scenic spot. Yet despite the similarities, Budapest is not the same as Vienna or Prague.

Politically, Hungary is under Prime Minister Victor Orban’s aspiring “illiberal democracy.” Throughout the Trump presidency, Orban has been one of the few European voices of support. He has rallied against the “unholy alliance of Brussels bureaucrats, the liberal world media and insatiable international capitalists.” Though Hungary is a member of the European Union and NATO, Orban has not shied away from cozying up to Vladimir Putin, whose rule of Russia presents an attractive blueprint for the type of politics Orban aspires to bring to Hungary. Whether such a development is possible with Hungary remaining in the EU is one of the many questions that organization faces. In recent months, the democratic world’s attention has been placed on Hungary, as Orban has targeted the Sophos Foundation-funded Central European University for its promulgation of pro-West and shared European values.

In the world of nation-states in which we live, history frequently serves a distinctly political purpose. Hungary is a particularly interesting example of this. In order to correspond to Obran’s uncompromising nationalism, Hungary’s collaboration with Nazi Germany has been whitewashed. After the government law requiring such a construction, a monument was put up in 2014 in the center of Budapest commemorating the Nazi “occupation” of Hungary (Germany and Hungary were allies in the war until 1944, when defeat to the Allies was approaching and Hungary sought out a separate peace, whereafter Hitler occupied it). In the monument, Hungary, represented by Archangel Gabriel, is shown being attacked by an eagle (Germany). As a protest, the families of Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust have put up a competing memorial in front of the government’s, highlighting that the real tragedy befell Hungary’s Jews (in part due to Hungarian collaboration), not the whole nation of Hungary. That this period would be remembered as anything else is taken as a direct insult to families who lost loved ones during the Holocaust, and this anger is made very public. One part of the counter-memorial simply reads: “My mother was killed in Auschwitz. Thank you ‘Archangel’ Gabriel.”

It is into this context that I am jumping into with my research. tThough I’ll be spending most of my days in Budapest reading old documents about Polish propaganda inside the Open Society Archives, and thus will not interacting with Budapest and Hungary at a very personal level, I thought it important to orient myself and whatever audience I have to the dynamics of what’ll be my home for the next while.

~Thanks for reading

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thnks fr th mmrs

There’s a good number of us that graduated this year that were born in the year 1995 or before. It’s crazy to think we were five, already in kindergarten by 2000; that we grew up on disney channel releasing music videos and tv movies where other young people were just as weird and silly and unrealistic. The ages of the boy bands and girl bands, outfits of prints and denim, large sunglasses, big curly hair and accessories.

The kids of today and people growing up today have so much technology, connection to others and knowledge and care about what’s happening in the world around them and what those around them think it’s crazy to think how “uncool” I was ten or so years ago compared to the kids of today. I think it’s given me a unique appreciation for my upbringing and how amazing college is. So I just wanted to say to UPS thanks for the memories!

** Early 2000’s throwback reference to the title of this post!**