Browse

The Testimony of Late Seventeenth-Century Library Auction Catalogues
Lawrence Rabone

In this article on book circulation, I survey twelve English library auction catalogues from the period 1676–97, in order to show how interest in the writings of the Amsterdam rabbi Menasseh ben Israel (1604–57) continued after his death. I do this by identifying the circulation of his works in Puritan personal libraries. I focus particularly on the library auction catalogues of leading Puritans, notably Lazarus Seaman, Thomas Manton, Stephen Charnock and John Owen. I also show that of all Menasseh’s books, De resurrectione mortuorum libri III was the one most frequently owned by Puritan divines. This article demonstrates how books helped to catalyse the boundary-crossing nature of the Jewish–Christian encounter in seventeenth-century England.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
A Realistic Ambition?
Pierre Mendiharat, Elba Rahmouni, and Léon Salumu

Despite a concerted international effort in recent decades that has yielded significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the disease continues to kill large numbers of people. Although there is still no definitive cure or vaccine, UNAIDS has set an ambitious goal of ending the epidemic by 2030, specifically via its 90-90-90 (‘treatment cascade’) strategy – namely that 90 per cent of those with HIV will know their status, 90 per cent of those who know their status will be on antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of those on antiretroviral therapy will have an undetectable viral load. These bold assumptions were put to the test in a five-year pilot project launched in June 2014 by MSF and Kenya’s Ministry of Health in Ndhiwa district, where an initial NHIPS 1 study by Epicentre (MSF’s epidemiology centre) in 2012 revealed some of the world’s highest HIV incidence and prevalence, and a poor treatment cascade. Six years later, a new Epicentre study, NHIPS 2, showed that the 90-90-90 target had been more than met. What explains this ‘success’? And given the still-high incidence, is it truly a success? MSF Deputy Director of Operations Pierre Mendiharat and physician Léon Salumu, Head of MSF France Kenya programmes, discuss the political, scientific and operational challenges of the Ndhiwa project in an interview conducted by Elba Rahmouni.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Trevor Russell Smith

This article reconsiders the value of ‘shorter’ chronicles written in fourteenth-century England through a case study of the most popular of these, the Cronica bona et compendiosa, which survives in more manuscripts than most of the chronicles frequently used in scholarship. It examines the text’s authorship and narrative to show what it can reveal about history writing and ideas of the past, especially as they relate to medieval readers. It demonstrates the text’s influence on contemporary writers by showing how it was slightly adapted by the important chronicler Henry Knighton, which use has so far gone unnoticed. This article also includes an appendix listing twenty-three ‘shorter’ histories and their manuscripts, nearly all of which have not hitherto been identified.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
A. D. Morrison

The letter collections of Greco-Roman antiquity dwarf in total size all of ancient drama or epic combined, but they have received far less attention than (say) the plays of Euripides or the epics of Homer or Virgil. Although classicists have long realised the crucial importance of the order and arrangement of poems into ‘poetry books’ for the reading and reception both of individual poems and the collection as a whole, the importance of order and arrangement in collections of letters and the consequences for their interpretation have long been neglected. This piece explores some of the most important Greek letter collections, such as the Letters attributed to Plato, and examines some of the key problems in studying and editing collections of such ancient letters.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
An Unpublished Manuscript Illuminated by the Master of the Haarlem Bible
Natalija Ganina and James H. Marrow

This paper analyses an unpublished Dutch-language Book of Hours in the John Rylands Library, focusing on unusual core texts the manuscript contains and distinctive features of its cycle of illumination. The miniatures and the richly painted decoration of the manuscript can be attributed to the Master of the Haarlem Bible and dated c.1450–75. The inserted full-page miniatures include iconographically noteworthy examples, and the placement of some in the volume is anomalous, suggesting that they may not have been planned when the volume was written. Our analyses of distinctive texts and images of the manuscript lead us to offer suggestions about the religious status or affiliations of its patron and to propose possible monastic settings in which it might have been used. We discuss the disparate character of its textual and illustrative components in relation to current reappraisals of the organisation of manuscript production in the Northern Netherlands.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Open Access (free)
The Politics of Infectious Disease
Duncan McLean and Michaël Neuman
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Lachlan McIver, Maria Guevara, and Gabriel Alcoba

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple fault lines in the performances of health services at every level – from community to national to global – in ensuring universal, equitable access to preventive and curative care. Tragically, this has been to the detriment of those who have suffered and died not only from COVID-19, but also from the myriad other ailments affecting people around the world. Of those, we wish to highlight here some key categories of diseases that have caused a greater burden of illness and deaths as a consequence of the policies and political decisions made in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our view, these should be considered epidemics or, more accurately, syndemics – the clustering and interactions of two or more diseases or health conditions and socio-environmental factors – of neglect.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Positioning, Politics and Pertinence
Natalie Roberts

This article explores the actions of Médecins Sans Frontières during the 2018–20 Ebola outbreak in Nord Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based on the experiences of practitioners involved in the response, including the author, and on the public positioning of MSF during the first year of the epidemic, it argues that although the actions of response actors were usually well intentioned, they could rarely be described as lifesaving, may have exacerbated disease transmission as much as limited it and had the perverse effect of fuelling corruption and violence. The article documents and analyses contradictions in MSF’s moral and technical positioning, and the complicated relationship between the organisation and the international and Congolese institutions leading the response. It argues that the medical and social failure of the response was the result of an initial belief in a strategy designed at a time when the only realistically attainable outcome was to relieve suffering, and of the later inability of the organisation to convince the authorities in charge of the response to adjust their approach. It suggests that for future success new protocols must be elaborated and agreed based on a better social and political comprehension and a better understanding of the tools now available.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Martin Thompson

This article proposes that Manchester, John Rylands Library, Latin MS 165 was an ‘accessory text’ produced and gifted within the Tudor court and passed down by matrilineal transmission within the influential Fortescue family. It proposes that from the text’s conception, the book of devotions participated in various projects of self-definition, including Henry VII’s campaign for the canonisation of his Lancastrian ancestor, Henry VI. By analysing visual and textual evidence, it posits that later female owners imitated the use of marginal spaces by the book’s original scribe and illuminator. Finally, it traces the book’s ownership back from its acquisition by the John Rylands Library to the viscounts Gage, in whose custody the book underwent a transformation from potentially subversive tool of female devotion to obscure historical artefact.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
How Can Humanitarian Analysis, Early Warning and Response Be Improved?
Aditya Sarkar, Benjamin J. Spatz, Alex de Waal, Christopher Newton, and Daniel Maxwell

In 2017, the UN raised the alarm on famines in North-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Starvation has been used as a weapon of war in Syria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has among the largest numbers of severely food-insecure people of any country assessed by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system. Each of these sites of mass starvation or famine can be understood as a ‘political marketplace’. They are characterised by the dominance of transactional politics over public institutions, and elite politics is conducted for factional or personal political advantage, on the basis of monetised patronage. This paper examines the relationship between these systems of transactional politics and famine and other forms of mass starvation, and outlines the implications of the political marketplace framework for humanitarian action. It argues that both transactional politics and mass starvation emerge from particular political-economic configurations characterised by economic precarity and mismanagement, violent forms of peripheral governance and war economies. Applying the political marketplace framework can help improve humanitarian information and early warning systems, as well as programme decision-making, while helping humanitarians think more carefully about the constant trade-offs they are forced to make.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs