Historiography, meet the paywall

In the course of logging on to my blog site just now – for the first time after having installed Google Chrome – I paused in progress as the search results for ‘Makurra’ appeared as I typed.  A click on  http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Place:Makurra,_Sudan afforded a minimal stub indicating that Makurra is the name of a ‘former nation/state/empire’ located in what is now Sudan.  The site provided the ‘alt name’ Maqurrah, and very little else.  The source cited was the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names, which itself proved disappointing, offering little more than an indication that ‘by about 1366, Makurra had become Islamic.’  On the Getty page I clicked a link to the entry for ‘Makurra’ in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, which provided a link to another entry, that for ‘Dunqulah.’  It seems that Old Dunqulah was situated on the east bank of the Nile, and was the capital of the Christian kingdom of Makurra, and…. BAM!

A paywall.  So I have to subscribe and face monthly debits to read the full entry in the hopes of finding out, among other things, when and how Makurra’s inhabitants converted – or were converted – from Christianity to Islam?  Historiography – even on this modest a scale – should not be impeded by paywalls.

4 Comments

Filed under Culture, History and historiography, Reading and writing, Weblogs

4 responses to “Historiography, meet the paywall

  1. Thanks for the great description of smacking into a paywall unexpectedly.

  2. Well you know, there’s a widely known but often overlooked community resource that’s been offering free access to paid content for centuries: public libraries. I have library cards at two of them, and logged into their websites, and found that one of them (the Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley, CA) has a subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online. So by typing in my library card number, I was able to access the whole Dunqulah article for free and even save it as a PDF. Maybe your library has a subscription, too.

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