1980-81 Excavations of Cathcart Castle, Glasgow

An extract from Open Access article, Cathcart Castle, Glasgow – Excavations 1980–81, by Brian Kerr et. al. Published in the Scottish Archaeological Joursaj-covernal, Volume 38 Issue supplement, Page 1-100, ISSN 1471-5767 Available Online Oct 2016

‘The castle of Cathcart is now a ruin. From its remains, it seems to have been a very strong building. It stands upon one of the most commanding situations in the country, and has two of its sides completely defended by the Cart, to which there is almost a perpendicular descent of a tremenduous (sic) height. The access to it on the other side, except by a narrow entry, which might have been secured by a ditch and drawbridge, is pretty steep and difficult; so that in times when the art of attack was not so well understood, it might have made a considerable defence. The square tower, of which the original building consisted, appears to have had annexed to it, a more modern house, which is now completely removed. The castle, was within these 50 years inhabited, but was given up by its proprietor to be demolished, upon moving to another dwelling. The materials were sold to a tradesman in Glasgow, who hoped thereby to enrich himself. Having taken off the roof, he was proceeding with the rest of the building, when he found himself obliged to stop by the resistance he met with, from the strength and thickness of the walls. Having been left since that time in a dismantled state, it has scarcely suffered any farther injury from the influence of the weather’ (First Statistical Account of Scotland V, 1791–99, 349 fn).

View of Cathcart Castle tower after collapse, December 1979
Fig 1, View of Cathcart Castle tower after collapse, December 1979, SC 11498978 © Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor canmore.org.uk
The remains of Cathcart Castle had survived nearly another two centuries of exposure to the elements following its partial demolition, but on 9th December 1979 the front or east face collapsed, leaving the rest of the building in a precarious state (Fig 1). The owner of the site, Glasgow District Council, decided that it had to make the building safe. The intention was to remove loose and unstable walling, leaving the rest of the walls standing, but such was the nature of the demolition of August 1980 that little more than 2m of the north, west and half of the south wall was left (Fig 2). The rubble was largely removed from site, and was reportedly dumped as part of the infill of the Queen’s Dock at Finnieston, a site now occupied by the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). Some rubble was retained within Linn Park for future repair and landscaping work, mainly material that had fallen down the steep southern cliff during collapse and demolition.
Remains of the tower after demolition, looking west
Fig 2, Remains of the tower after demolition, looking west
Following demolition, it was felt that there was an opportunity to investigate the site before landscaping work took place. An excavation team was active in Glasgow in 1980, funded through the Manpower Services Commission’s Youth Opportunities Programme, sponsored by the Glasgow People’s Palace Museum and managed by Strathclyde Regional Council Education Department through its East End Community Service Agency. The team, then working at the Saracen’s Head Inn site in the Gallowgate, was asked by Glasgow Museums to undertake a small research excavation on the site of the castle, and the Museums Service provided funding to cover the costs of travel and other expenses. In November 1980 a small team under the direction of the present writer began work.

The Islamic Cult behind the Abortive Coup in Turkey

By Necati Polat

Who are the Gülenists ostensibly behind the failed Turkey coup of last July, when, for the first time in Turkish history, soldiers led by a large cabal within the military did not hesitate to bomb the parliament and open fire on civilians, killing hundreds? Also known as ‘Hizmet’ (literally ‘service’), the cult that appears responsible for the coup would instantly confuse, nay, dumbfound, some of the long-time observers, more abroad perhaps than in Turkey, who knew the movement active from the 1970s as the global advocate by and large of a uniquely accommodating, peaceful, democrat, tolerant, civil-society-oriented, rather than state-obsessed, ‘Turkish Islam’.

A clue to the puzzle seemed to be offered in a video statement by Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish cleric and the leader of the cult based in the United States since 1999, a week after the attempted coup. Referring to the crowds in an ongoing democratic vigil in support of the government in the immediate aftermath of the putsch as ‘fools’, who simply ‘deluded’ themselves when the international community did not take the event dubbed ‘coup’ in Turkey seriously, Gülen urged the followers to stand ‘firm’. He went on to instruct the devotees, now being rounded up in Turkey in large numbers, to remain proud and ‘spit in the faces of the oppressors, even as you’re being led to hanging, just as the late [Sayyid] Qutb did’. Was this reference to the iconic Islamist ideologue, executed in Egypt in 1966, an extension of Gülen’s known eclecticism in discourse? Or did it perhaps betray a radical streak in incongruity with the declared political mission of the movement, which carefully distanced itself from Islamism?

9781474416979_1Actually, the whole cult may have been a product of incongruities in public conduct from at least the 1980s, the period after the last big military coup in Turkey, which refashioned domestic politics, and which put Islamic movements such as Gülenism strictly on guard. A dizzying ‘transformation’ would in turn come to define the cult. To cite only one illustration, printing human photos in its publications only with the head severed from the torso by a clear line introduced into the picture (as deemed appropriate in accordance with the most inflexible reading of the Islamic rules, which prohibited images of ‘living’ people), the cult would seemingly ‘evolve’ by the late 1990s to endorse secular life styles for the adherents, prompting some of the woman followers under public spotlight altogether to remove the Islamic headscarf, the hijab.

Clearly, however, Gülen was no intellectual innovator as a cleric. It is next to impossible to find a passage in his writings that may offer an inkling of novelty or original thought in Islamic jurisprudence. The apparent ‘transformation’ was a sham (the dissimulation at work was called tedbir within the cult), and old practices continued at the grassroots. The Gülenists not in public view went on adhering to the traditional pious life style and to modesty for women, in ways more austere perhaps than that the settled piety required for Muslim women. More significantly perhaps, in small gatherings for the devotees, Gülen would continue discuss – until recently – just when it would be acceptable for husbands to use physical violence against wives, or whether apostates would have a right to life.

How did Gülen – a state-employed mosque preacher – come to be in control of a vast network of devotees busy conducting services in over 150 countries? Gülen captured the hearts and minds of a steadily growing community through his sermons and in time via periodicals published within the movement. The middle class devotees, as well as the new generation of pious business people outside the established centres, kept contributing generous, and invariably undocumented, donations (called himmet). The funds collected were easily laundered over decades with the tacit consent of successive governments, which found the overall work in education laudable, ignoring the secularist critics. Business owners close to the movement helped with the laundering of money and in return used the network soon extending far beyond Turkey for trade opportunities.

Initially the movement started running student halls for underprivileged high school students preparing for university entrance examinations, to be followed from the second half 1980s by rapidly proliferating private high schools. The educational activities of the cult would serve as a recruitment ground for volunteers to take part in the constantly widening scale of the work, stretching to countries outside Turkey from the early 1990s.

More controversially, in the light of full knowledge publicly available only for the last few years, the cult steered some of those recruited, who were as young as in their teens, to avenues of formal education that would eventually bring them to man strategic posts in the state apparatus, principally the police, the judiciary, and the army. The suspect statements and inside information by former members in the aftermath of the coup, unfolding in national media, would more than confirm what in that regard the critics had long claimed. Some of the students guided were apparently enabled to secure places at appropriate educational establishments, including military schools, through mass cheating at the entrance examinations. Mostly men, the recruits on their way to be in critical positions in state employment were then instructed by the cult to adopt fully secular life styles, pressured to marry women who did not observe Islamic rules of modesty, and permitted to take, when ‘necessary’ in self-concealment, the otherwise prohibited alcohol.

By 2007, when a ‘regime change’ led by the then Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan was under way, the cult seemed already to have a formidable presence in the police and in the judiciary. They also possessed by then a virtual media empire, notably bolstered by a de facto alliance with numerous secular intellectuals, genuinely interested in political change, hopefully towards enhanced democracy, and contributing to the media of the cult. Erdoğan availed himself of the services of the cult (with some being highly questionable and still debated), until 2011, when the regime change became virtually complete. The Gülenists were soon practically at the helm of both the judiciary and the police, thanks to the government. Yet, in the ensuing period, the government and the cult would drift apart, apparently over discords about the control of State Intelligence (MIT), denied to the cult, and the Kurdish peace (the Gülenists did not like the dialogue with the PKK), culminating, after a number of open skirmishes, in a spectacular war, one of escalating attrition, between the government and the cult, from the last quarter of 2013.

The aborted putsch of 15 July 2016 would reveal that, judging from the pace of the promotion of the ‘closet’ Gülenists within the ranks, the top command of the military might have become fully constituted by the members of the cult within only six years.


Necati Polat is Professor of International Relations at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, where he teaches on theories of international politics, international law, and the philosophy of social sciences. He is the author of Regime Change in Contemporary Turkey: Politics, Rights, Mimesis (2016, Edinburgh University Press).

Don’t Just Build It, They Probably Won’t Come

By Ruth Mostern

Here, Ruth Mostern gives some background to her article, “Don’t Just Build It, They Probably Won’t Come: Data Sharing and the Social Life of Data in the Historical Quantitative Social Sciences”. Her article appears in the October 2016 issue of IJHAC: A Journal of the Digital Humanities, a multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed forum for research on all aspects of arts and humanities computing, publishing twice a year.


On two occasions in my career, I have become involved with projects to build large-scale data repositories for history and the humanities.  These alluring projects seek to gather hundreds or thousands of specialists, each with a small-scale dataset about some aspect of the historical human experience, to upload content that collectively grows into a coherent global resource at the scale of big data.

My article in IJHAC: A Journal of the Digital Humanities is inspired by the two projects I have worked on, and it is based on research that I conducted through one of them, as a PI with the Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA), founded by the great world historian Patrick Manning at the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. The article, co-authored with my graduate student researcher Marieka Arksey, reviews the literature about content contribution to repository projects, it summarizes surveys of the CHIA community, and it includes a set of recommendations about how to foster participation in future such projects.  The article regretfully concludes that CHIA, like many such projects before it, did not succeed in creating a viable collection of datasets that are useful to world historians and likely to improve their research outcomes.cover

CHIA was my second repository project, and part of my disappointment in its failure to reach critical mass is that the same thing happened to the first such venture I was involved with.  In the late 1990s, I joined the staff of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), founded by Professor Lewis Lancaster, an eminent professor of Buddhist Studies.  Lew’s research tracked how the corpus of sacred Buddhist texts changed as the religion moved out of its South Asian heartland and spread through Asia and beyond.

A long-time digital innovator, he dreamed of contextualizing the historical geography of Buddhism with spatial data about the polities, cultures and climates through which the religion spread.  He gathered dozens of experts on Asian historical and cultural geography.  He enlisted pioneers in interactive mapping, digital librarianship, web design, and database management. The idea was to create an ever-expanding interactive digital atlas that would ultimately encompass all the world’s cultural experiences.

Each dataset – each sighting of a version of a Buddhist canon at a particular place and time, each route of pilgrimage – would necessarily be a tiny one, compiled by an expert and traditionally accessible only to other specialists in a small field. However, by bringing together hundreds and thousands of such datasets in one repository, and by creating map and timeline search and display tools, we would collate these abstruse materials into building blocks for an unparalleled, even revolutionary way to tell the human story in a way that was complex and simple at the same time.   As a graduate student, ECAI changed my life.

What went wrong? Both CHIA and ECAI had a beautiful vision, both were led by charismatic and famous founders, both received grant funding, both brought together scholars with content and developers with infrastructure.  However, both, like many similar projects, failed to gain traction.

My IJHAC article aims to figure out why not. In short, it concludes that many repository developers fail to account for data’s embeddedness in social life. To rectify this problem, repository developers should hire staff to solicit and curate data, they should collaborate with cohesive scholarly communities, they should identify forms of participation that do not require sharing of complete datasets, and they should  incorporate peer review into the repository lifecycle.

Regrettably, in this domain, a great idea and a strong will to succeed do not seem to be enough.

Ruth Mostern is an Associate Professor of World History at University of Pittsburgh, and an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced. Her email is rmostern@ucmerced.edu


Graham Harman interviews Markus Gabriel

Graham Harman, Speculative Realism series editor, interviews Markus Gabriel, author of Fields of Sense and Why the World Does Not Exist. It’s a long conversation, and very rich, so fix yourself a cup of tea or coffee, pop your phone on silent, and settle down for a read.

Since it’s so long, you can also download this interview as pdf that you can read as ebook or print out: Download the pdf

Graham Harman: Let’s start with a topic that is often dismissed as a cliché: the rift between ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ styles of philosophy. It seems to me that this split remains very real, at least in institutional terms. Yet you are one of the authors most difficult to classify in terms of this schema: your educational background is a traditionally German one in a ‘continental’ way, but you seem very much at home in the analytic style of arguing, to the point that Fields of Sense in some ways reads more like a book of analytic than continental philosophy. What is your view of the analytic/continental split: how did it originate, is it still with us, and where is it headed?

Markus Gabriel: Until recently, one might have characterized the state of the split in the way John Searle once roughly put it: if you ask an analytic philosopher a question, he replies with an argument; if you ask a continental philosopher, he replies with a name or a book title. If this were generally the case, analytic philosophy would basically just be philosophy as it ought to be practiced whereas continental philosophy would look like a hybrid of philosophy and history of philosophy mixed with some kind of admiration for authorities (the notorious dead white male metaphysics and their bearded contemporary counterparts in their fifties). What I like about the realist turn in continental circles is that in the work of figures associated with Speculative Realism we get arguments embedded in large-scale philosophical visions rather than the kind of fluffy exegesis and endless litanies that critics of continental philosophy identify with the practice as such.

If you read both contemporary so-called ‘analytical’ metaphysics and the debates in Speculative Realism, it soon turns out that both debates converge in manifold ways. Yet, Speculative Realism in my view is more advanced due to its historical context which involves a much more original understanding of the history of metaphysics and its various shortcomings. Both debates are haunted by various kinds of criticisms of metaphysics (Carnap and Quine on the one hand, Kant in between and Heidegger and Derrida on the other hand, say, and Wittgenstein making a comeback to) and all participants offer various grounds to resist the critique of metaphysics.

The debates in metaphysics and metametaphysics, however, are only one important point of overlap which in my view point towards an actual overcoming of the perceived profound distinction between the two overall traditions.


Continue reading Graham Harman interviews Markus Gabriel

Electronic Literature, Again – CounterText 2.2

By Mario Aquilina

What is happening to ‘literature’ in the digital age? Is it surviving, changing, under threat? How are we to think of works that are ‘born digital’ and hence shaped by modalities and affordances that are either absent in or not central to print literature, such as code, image, sound, video, play, and interactivity of various kinds?

Literature, it is safe to say, has not succumbed to the apocalyptic threat implied in Derrida’s comment on ‘a certain technological regime of telecommunications’. However, it is undeniable that what we mean by ‘literature’ cannot be unproblematic when we speak, for instance, of ‘electronic literature’: a label that no longer represents just a niche interest in literary studies. ‘Electronic Literature, Again’ – the special issue of CounterText (2016, 2: 2), edited by myself and Ivan Callus, – explores these and other questions.

With its focus on the ‘post-literary’ and the ‘countertextual’, CounterText is a forum that is ideally placed for such exploration, allowing for navigation of the spaces that take in new platforms and digital contexts as well as their complex differences and continuities with literature’s institutionality and with mainstream and established understanding of the term ‘literature’. In that spirit, ‘Electronic Literature, Again’ contributes to ongoing dialogue about the futures (but also the pasts, hence the qualifier ‘Again’, in the title) of an exciting form of literature that is attracting increasing critical attention as well as wider readership (if this, indeed, is the word – itself a fascinating point for discussion).

Some of the contributors to the issue, like Stephanie Strickland, Stuart Moulthrop and Gordon Calleja, are well known through their critical and creative work about electronic literature or its immediate relatives (like digital games), but what the issue does is to position their arguments and outlooks in further discussion about the significance of electronic literature for literary studies, the humanities and the arts today. The editors’ own experimental essay – ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at Electronic Literature, or, a Print Essai on Tone In Electronic Literature, 1.0’ – rounds up the issue in a performative framing of some of the irrepressible questions raised by electronic literature. There are further incisive articles by Eric Dean Rasmussen, Steven Wingate and Diogo Marques, raising across their pages questions related to post-digital fiction, textual screens and tropes of circularity as these feature in electronic literature.

The issue will be of interest not only to scholars of electronic literature but also to those who are interested in varying constructions of the presents and futures of literature.


Mario Aquilina is a Lecturer at the Department of English at the University of Malta, where he teaches literary theory, rhetoric and style, and electronic literature. He has published articles and book chapters on experimental literature, style, Shakespeare, Derrida, and Blanchot. He is also the author of The Event of Style in Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and has co-edited the special issue of CounterText, ‘Electronic Literature, Again’ (2016).

Studies in World Christianity, Issue 22.2 — Centre for the Study of World Christianity

By Brian Stanley

Beyond the Binary of East and West However hard it tries, scholarship in world Christianity does not find it easy to escape the grip of the long-standing historical binary of East and West. The Christianities of Asia, Africa, and even … Continue reading →

via Studies in World Christianity, Issue 22.2 — Centre for the Study of World Christianity