How to explain semiotics in one easy step. Tuesday, Aug 20 2013 

“They say the shape of Cheshire looks like a minuteman.”  I studied the map of Cheshire, posted as an insert to an article about the town’s borders supposedly having more corners than any other town or city in Massachusetts.  According to one of my interviewees, he had found out that the number of corners was overcounted.  Still, the enduring image of the multi-cornered township seems to have a great deal of symbolic import.

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The Significance of the Underground Railroad Monday, Aug 19 2013 

This summer in Western Massachusetts I’ve noticed a recurring theme while discussing my research.  No sooner do I parrot my elevator speech (“I focus on memories of the African-American slave trade and how they are embedded in roles, rituals and aesthetics in Atlantic World sites such as the Caribbean and New England”) than the person I’m talking to immediately says something along the lines of “you know, I just took a tour of this house that was on the Underground Railroad.”

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And now for something completely different . . . Thursday, Aug 15 2013 

in which I take a break from my usual inane ramblings to contemplate a different sort of inanity.  Namely, pop cultural characterizations of gender.

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Nelson versus Bussa Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

Alright.  It occurs to me that in my previous post I forgot to include a link to the Bussa statue.  This might therefore be as good a place as any to outline the differences between official history and public memory as reflected in monuments and aesthetics in Barbados.  I do this by exploring two major concepts inspired by Greenblatt’s resonance and wonder: visibility, and accessibility.

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Whither Horatio Alger? Monday, Aug 23 2010 

You’ve probably gathered by now that a lot of my interest lies in the performance of status Issac Royall and John Brown were gave.  What kind of men were they?  What kind of men did they want to be perceived as?  As an anthropologist ([ahem] in training) those are questions I’m obligated to get to the bottom of.  The trouble is is that the answers are not exactly clear.  They probably weren’t even clear to Royall and Brown.

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Or maybe Adam wasn’t slowly dying inside. Friday, Aug 6 2010 

Come on; I couldn’t leave posting on that kind of downer.  Maybe, just maybe, Adam did what countless people in his situation did.  Maybe he, in the words of Frederick Douglass on slave experience, “endured.”

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Metaphor and Religion Saturday, Feb 27 2010 

It should come as little surprise to many of you that, as a die-hard word-nerd, linguistic anthropology should be an area of significant interest to me.  The particulars of language can carry powerful symbolic (or, for you fellow pointy-headed social scientists, “semiotic”) import.  Language can be sexy; we talk of “pregnant” pauses or “copulative” verbs.  From the time humanity began to orally communicate as well as set ink to paper, our identities and perspectives have been shaped in part by our use of language (more will be blogged on that part at a later date.  Also, yes; I know I just split an infinitive.  More on that at a still later date).

I understand if many of you find a post about language dryer than a Sauna in Tuscan.  If Tuscan were relocated to the Sahara.  Click on the link, then, if you dare.

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