Third Annual Symposium
Population and Urbanization in Latin America and the Caribbean
Dr. Betty Smith, Geology-Geography
Slowing in its rate of urbanization, Latin America and the Caribbean are highly urban and contain four major world cities: Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro. In Mexico urban growth is occurring in small and intermediate size cities along the US-Mexico border, among edge cities around the largest urban agglomerations, and near the coast in response to tourism. In contrast, the Caribbean islands are characterized by primate cities and declining rural populations. In South America the highest urbanization rates over the past fifty years occurred in small to intermediate size cities in the interior of the continent. One of these, Curitiba, Brazil, provides a hopeful model for good city planning. Employment opportunities have not kept pace with population growth. In response to economic need, many individuals throughout Latin America and the Caribbean travel regionally and internationally for employment opportunities.
Mal-Respiration" and the Importance of Shutting Your Mouth: From William Wordsworth to George Catlin
Dr. Suzie Park, English
My paper makes the unusual claim that Wordsworth may have been influenced by medical debates about actual resuscitation that were in circulation at the time of his composition of his magnum opus The Prelude. Most of these debates centered on the efforts formalized by the Royal Humane Society of the Apparently Dead, established in 1776, an organization of physicians interested in promoting knowledge about the “best method of restoring animation” to those who had drowned or suffocated. As many victims of drowning and suffocation were women, it is not surprising that this was a time when the nascent fields of standardized medical practice were solidifying around such professions as the coroner's and the obstetrician's.
In order to examine the mutual influence of poetics on medical practice and sociological description, I begin with the ethnographer and painter George Catlin (an American known for documenting the lives of over 150 North, Central, and South American aboriginal tribes), who in 1861 published a tract called The Breath of Life or mal-Respiration. Catlin’s thesis is a relatively shocking one: the reason people in so-called civilized societies have much higher infant mortality rates and a host of illnesses unknown in aboriginal societies is that they do not shut their mouths. Specifically, they sleep with their mouths open instead of using their nostrils, which provide the perfect and finely-tuned filtering machinery of Nature, where a person breathes so low that he almost “ceases to exist.” Using this model of aboriginal tribes’ death-like sleep, Catlin urges Westerners--especially mothers--to train their children to breathe and sleep more naturally.
What Minority History can Contribute to Community Living History
Dr. Debra Reid, History
Minority history in the rural Midwest remains an understudied topic, but one with the potential to add an important dimension to living history, broadly defined. Most studies have focused on the story of migration to the urban North from the rural South, but this tells only the majority story. The session will present an overview of histories of African American and Mexican American communities in the rural Midwest, and then will share some sources to use to start documenting any community’s minority past in a way that involves often under-represented communities in the process.
I devised this session as a counter to comments made by peers in history museums about the “whiteness” of the Corn Belt (defined climatologically as an area stretching across rural Indiana, Illinois and Iowa), about farming being “the whitest of occupations,” and about how community history museums and living history farms have no minority history to interpret. In fact, they might have a richer history than they imagine, but documenting it can prove challenging. African Americans who migrated to the Midwest prior to the Civil War tended to establish enclaves, sometimes with the support of white patrons, and sometimes within bi-racial settlements with no discernible patron. Those who purchased land appeared in traditional public sources (deed and mortgage documents, probate and wills). Others existed outside of legal jurisdiction. Those who did not own land did not file deeds, often did not have! property worthy of securing a mortgage, and had nothing to probate upon death. Documenting these communities depends on oral tradition or on newsworthy incidents that indirectly left evidence of the community’s existence. Attendees will receive a general overview of minority history with some specificity for all eight states in the MOMCC region, and will then interpret primary sources that document rural minority experiences in those states. The last fifteen minutes will be devoted to discussion of how sites and historical societies can design research projects to document their histories, and interpretive scenarios to interpret what they find.
“He was born free”: The Enslavement of Philip Johnston, a free black seaman
Dr. Charles Foy, History
“'He was born free’: The Enslavement of Philip Johnston, a free black seaman” was part of a panel that explored how to craft biographies of seamen, who often left little documentary records of their lives.
This paper proposes to show how the Black Mariner Database, a collection of records for more than 19,700 eighteenth century black seamen and maritime fugitives, can enable one to write biographies of such men. The paper will do so in three discrete ways. First, it will answer the central question concerning individuals for whom there is limited documentation: were their lives exceptional or commonplace. The BMD allows us to place Johnston’s life within the larger context of the Black Atlantic. It illustrates that the most striking characteristic of all black mariners was their continued vulnerability to re-enslavement. Equiano's story of his fellow mariner John Annis, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the West Indies, was not an isolated event. Thus, long before Seamen’s Acts restricted mobility for black mariners, illicit enslavement of black sailors was commonplace throughout the Atlantic. Second, the! BMD permits us to place Johnston within the shifting legal boundaries of the Atlantic. As abolition took hold in various regions freedom was granted to many former slaves. At the same time many slave masters moved their slaves to avoid the effects of gradual emancipation. During the last quarter of the 18th century large numbers of black mariners such as Johnston found themselves swept up in this movement of black bodies into slave-holding regions. His life illustrates well the opening and closing of doors within the Atlantic. And lastly, the BMD illustrates the critical role of compassionate humanitarianism among whites in assisting enslaved black mariners obtain freedom.
Making Whiteness Visible in Young Adult Literature: The View from the Other Side
Dr. Tim Engles, English
Join us for discussion of some illuminating passages from award-winning contemporary Young Adult Literature in which non-white writers reverse the 'multicultural' lens, providing readers with an outsider’s first-person perspective on white (majority) culture that defamiliarizes cultural norms, levels the classroom playing field, and sparks critical thinking about American cultural diversity.
Constructing the Irish Past: Contextualizing Personal Journal Entries from the Twentieth Century
Dr. Janet Marquardt, Art
I was asked to organize a medieval art history session for the American Conference on Irish Studies meeting at New Orleans in March 2011. Since I knew other scholars in the same field and was working on a publication of her excavation daybooks, I designed a session around the pioneering work of the French archaeologist and art historian Françoise Henry in Ireland. She was the first woman to write for the famous Zodiaque books on medieval art and the scholar who introduced the study of Irish archaeology as a subject of higher education as well as art history as a field at University College Dublin.
To her studies of Irish art, Henry brought an intense focus on literary and historical documentation, stylistic analysis, and iconographic comparisons. She visited early settlements all over Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, and France, looking for Celtic artifacts and excavating little known sites. When Henry began her analysis of Irish remains, there was no one in the country who taught Irish art and few who had written about it, but the time was ripe for the rediscovery of a national heritage that had been noticed in the nineteenth century by antiquarians like George Petrie yet had never entered the curriculum in the Academy. In fact, Henry herself was hired at University College Dublin to teach modern European painting and only later had an association with the Department of Celtic Archaeology. It was she who brought Irish art into the art-historical canon.
Henry was a scholar and a cosmopolitan citizen of the modern world. In contrast, the journals that I found in the Royal Irish Academy, and at University College Dublin, describe a lifestyle that was just becoming obsolete. In the earlier 1930s, the inhabitants of the Inishkea islands had been moved by the government to homesteads on the Mullet Peninsula. Henry hired some of these people to work for her back in the island for her excavations in 1938, 1946, and 1950. She found the local customs and lore fascinating while her deep love for nature makes her descriptions of the environment around Blacksod Bay an intensely poetic evocation of this area of the Atlantic coastal region. Written by an outsider, but by someone who had learned Irish and studied the early history of Irish art and architecture more fully than anyone before her, this work has the potential to represent for the Inishkeas what Peig Sayers' or Maurice O'Sullivan's autobiographies did for the Blasket Islands.