Parallel Lives Wednesday, Jun 30 2010 

If there is any concept that has survived the post-structuralism juggernaut within Anthropology it is bipolar opposition.  Claude Levi-Strauss, considered by many to be the primary founding figure of American Anthropology, posited that life — particularly cultural life — consists of trying to bridge the gap between dichotomies.  Good versus evil, body versus mind (or soul), earth versus heaven . . . the list goes on and on.  Similar dichotomies are found within the field itself, frequently reflected in academic jargon: objectivity versus subjectivity, macro versus micro . . . again, the list goes on and on.

Why do I mention dichotomies?  Well, for starters, they can help us explore the subtleties in everyday life.  At the Royall House, for example.  In this way anthropologists can truly become what Peter Segel of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me terms “scholars of the obvious.”



Puttin’ on the Ritz Tuesday, Jun 29 2010 

At the age of 28 a man by the name of Isaac Ryall established a sugar cane plantation in Antigua, in the West Indies.  This was the apex of an adolescence and young adulthood devoted to surpassing his beginnings as the son of a carpenter.  Along the way, he added an “o” to his name in order to alter it to the more patrician “Royall.”

Like others of his ilk Royall’s holdings were worked by slaves and, when he moved his family back to New England in 1732 as Antigua’s economy began failing amidst mass civil unrest, he brought 27 slaves with him.  He purchased “Ten Hills Farm” and built up what had been a modest farmhouse into an elegant, three-story Georgian mansion with a finished attic.  It was massive for its time.


Tory Row Pictures Sunday, Jun 27 2010 

This past Saturday, before a trip back to the Berkshires, I biked down Cambridge’s Tory Row (the link is to another local blog, powered by a local writer strongly devoted to pre-revolutionary/revolutionary war local history).  If you will recall from my interview with Mr. Docent Tory Row was largely populated by, well, Tories loyal to the British Empire.  Want to hear (and see) more, for some masochistic reason I can’t fathom?  Click onward!


In which the good doctor shamelessly cribs from Said. Tuesday, Jun 22 2010 

Edward Said, that is.  Author of “Orientalism,” to date one of the most comprehensive and illuminating books on the notion of the “Orient,” or “East,” as a construct of the West.


Lockeing it up and turning the key. Friday, Jun 18 2010 

Last night I pondered John Locke’s perception of slavery.  Actual slavery, I mean — Triangle Trade slavery, not metaphorical “the king has enslaved the English people slavery.”  Did he see it in terms of small scale, household, domestic/handyman slavery, or large-scale plantation slavery?  The grand answer to this is that, in the end, it doesn’t really matter.


Locked Up Friday, Jun 18 2010 

I really, really could not come up with a more effective pun for this title.  Suffice to say that in this entry I try and explore Locke’s philosophy regarding slavery; both the lofty words and sentiment and the actual practice.  It’s liable to be incomplete and cursory, but hopefully the start of something more trenchant.  Here goes.


The one word that legalized slavery in MA. Tuesday, Jun 15 2010 

“Unless.”  One tiny word, creating a tiny loophole that slavers stretched open large enough for an entire herd of camels to pass through.


In which the good doctor finds Aphra, Monday, Jun 14 2010 

and tries to annoy her beyond endurance into fitting into his project (a la singing “Henry VIII I am to Whoopi Goldberg).  So.  In our last few entries we’ve met the cast of Oroonoko and subsequently explored issues of race and gender underlying Behn’s text.  How, then, does this factor into my project?


In which the good doctor searches for Aphra (part 2). Saturday, Jun 12 2010 

So we’ve met the characters and the author, and I’ve kind of alluded to how this fits into my research.  I now attempt to back up my rampant explanation, in this second installment.


I accidentally deleted a new comment posted to this blog. Thursday, Jun 10 2010 

If it was you, please resubmit it.

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