African American Cultural Anthropology
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Grand Opening Ceremony
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This session will bring together representatives of local and national governments, civil society and experts, each with experiences that can help build a global sense of how partnering through culture can power resilient and inclusive recovery. In he was elected as the Mayor of Seferihisar and carried on this task for two terms. He has implemented the international local-scale development model Cittaslow Slow City first to Seferihisar and then introduced it to the seven geographical areas of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. City of Mannheim Dr. Peter Kurz is the mayor of Mannheim, Germany, since , with various honorary posts in European and international committees. Kurz was one of the founding members of the Global Parliament of Mayors GPM in and appointed chair of the organization in November As a cultural anthropologist trained at Seoul National University M.
In , he joined the newly founded College of Liberal Studies of Seoul National University and served as its dean until He is particularly focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and oversees work on copyright, heritage, internet governance, and human rights. The work of the Committee is based on Culture 21 Actions, the most complete toolkit on culture in sustainable cities. The Committee organises a global award as well as a biennial Summit, manages a unique database of good practices and promotes a range of learning programmes on capacity-building and connectivity of cities.
As coordinator of the Committee, he is involved in the global campaign culturegoal that advocates for the role of cultural factors and actors in the UN Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. He has published books, articles and reports on cultural rights, international cultural relations, culture and sustainability and the governance of culture. Despite the fragmented nature of such evidence and despite the bias of what has survived, we can use such materials along with written records to conjure the past.
Culturally expressive forms—both cultural practices and material objects—can complement written records, offering perspectives lost in the records themselves. To use various forms of evidence moves our stories of the past from the words of those with control over the written word to larger spheres in which more kinds of people participated. Cultural history goes across disciplines and beyond written documents to study objects, language, practices, relationships, etc. We often signal such larger spheres by speaking of culture. In the search for cultures of the past, historians gather fragments of evidence—oral narratives, material objects, and traces of embodied practices that involve language, food cultivation, forest use, building, making, sacralizing, and forming relationships of all sorts.
These shreds and shards extend what can be told about the past and enlarge the circle of historical subjects who we recognize as integral in making the past. A second step, however, is to work from these eclectic source materials to ask about the forms of coherence that might have tied these shreds and shards together. What social practices, meanings, and values are associated with the fragments we find today? To understand the lives of Africans brought to the Americas as slaves, we must go beyond written records. The puzzles and challenges of cultural history have been particularly evident to scholars committed to investigate the life worlds and perspectives of the Africans who were brought to the Americas against their will within the institution of slavery.
Enslaved Africans had very little ability to keep their own written records. There are documents about them, but they do not reflect the perspectives of the enslaved, and the written documents often obscure and erase the very things that may have been most important in their lives—their relationships, their skills, their forms of knowledge, their hopes and dreams. Under slave society, slaveholders wrote enslaved Africans out of history, inscribing the emerging contributions of varied American regions into the archives as if Africans were virtually absent.
The ambition of contemporary cultural historians is to write against this erasure, showing the historical contributions and perspectives of enslaved Africans. The southeast coast of United States is a particularly exciting place for this task. Enslaved Africans were able to form large communities in the coastal southeast. European American settlers retreated from the malaria that spread from parasites brought from Africa. Although European American slaveholders owned the land and controlled its use, due to the absence of large communities of European Americans, Africans were in more important roles , as farm supervisors, landscape engineers, and community leaders than in other areas of the United States. The cultural worlds of slaves in this area, then, are particularly vivid and impressive.
But documents cannot be our only source of evidence for understanding these worlds. We need many sources. Small holes have been carved in its wide boards; together they form an intricate aesthetic pattern. It turns out that the pattern is a Congolese spiritual design. Perhaps the pattern was both a source of delight and a signal. Furthermore, the holes served more than aesthetic and communicative purposes. Escaped slaves, reportedly, were able to hide under the floor of the church; the holes allowed them air and light. Similarly, what should we make of the following? The array was not random at all, but evidence of an active African ritual life!
Such shards of evidence expand the collection of historical materials that contribute to a sense of the past. For more on interpreting plantation artifacts, see the results of archaeological research at Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation in Louisiana. Rice field dyke in South Carolina. Rice field dyke in Gambia, Standing on a marshy bank by the side of a water channel, at first there appears nothing but tall grass of little consequence. The view is picturesque, but is there something of history here? To geographer Judith Carney, experienced from her research among rice cultivators in The Gambia and Senegal, this site itself is a text from which we can see history being made.
In Georgia and South Carolina, land was worked for over a century by enslaved Africans, who, Carney argues, brought with them their knowledge of rice cultivation. Their British American masters had little knowledge of how to grow rice; they depended on their slaves to transform the landscape to make rice cultivation possible. Africans used the knowledge they brought from Africa to dig irrigation canals, build dykes and water gates, and design drainage and salt-water exclusion.
A number of features of the engineering are distinctively West African. Carney uses multiple forms of evidence to bring this story to life, moving back and forth between the evidence of material forms and the evidence of documents. Social Sciences Anthropology. But oddly enough, these same women, who are said to run amok in their own communities, are thought to be entirely competent at parenting the children of the elite-as mammies during slavery, as domestic workers during segregation, or as child care workers today. Battle-Baptiste, Whitney. Black Feminist Archaeology. Cole, Johnnetta B. Johnnetta Cole. New York: The Free Press, Johnnetta B. Cox, Aimee Meredith. Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Chroreography of Citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press, Davis, Dana-Ain.
March-April : Ebron, Paulla A.