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Journal ArticleDOI

Agency and Diaspora in Atlantic History: Reassessing the African Contribution to Rice Cultivation in the Americas

01 Dec 2007-The American Historical Review (Oxford University Press)-Vol. 112, Iss: 5, pp 1329-1358
TL;DR: One approach focuses on folkways, the other on factor endowments as mentioned in this paper, and the polar extremes are persistence and transience, inheritance and experience, whereas a focus on experience highlights the physical and social environments, such as climate, natural resources, and settlement processes that they encountered.
Abstract: Broadly speaking, two contrasting models dominate interpretations of Atlantic history. One draws on Old World influences to explain the nature of societies and cultures in the Americas, while the other assigns primacy to the New World environment. One stresses continuities, the other change. The polar extremes are persistence and transience, inheritance and experience. An emphasis on inheritance prioritizes the cultural baggage that migrants brought with them, whereas a focus on experience highlights the physical and social environments, such as climate, natural resources, and settlement processes, that they encountered. In modern parlance, one approach focuses on folkways, the other on factor endowments. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these two viewpoints clashed, and the debate still reverberates in modified form. An emphasis on cultural continuities was the preserve of germ theory historians, such as Herbert Baxter Adams and Edward Eggleston, who stressed what immigrants from Europe brought with them when they crossed the Atlantic. Frederick Jackson Turner most famously challenged this emphasis, arguing that an egalitarian civil society and political democracy were rooted in the expanding frontier and availability of land in temperate North America. In the course of the twentieth century, the frontier thesis gathered considerable strength. Although historians of migration no longer mention the Turner school, the new environment continues to be seen as the dominant influence, whether in terms of physical resources or the evolution of new social identities. In the Black Atlantic, the frontier thesis might seem irrelevant, but there, too, the literature on creolization, stemming most notably from the work of Sidney Mintz and Richard Price, saw the historiographical pendulum swing toward an emphasis on the discontinuity of the transatlantic experience and the critical importance of the New World environment.1
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the bibliography continues its customary coverage of secondary writings published since 1900 in western European languages on slavery or the slave trade anywhere in the world: monographs,...
Abstract: For 2007 the bibliography continues its customary coverage of secondary writings published since 1900 in western European languages on slavery or the slave trade anywhere in the world: monographs, ...

196 citations

Book
11 Jan 2010
TL;DR: This chapter discusses mosquito determinism and its limits in the context of Atlantic empires and Caribbean ecology, as well as revolutionary fevers in Haiti, New Granada, and Cuba, 1790-1898.
Abstract: Part I. Setting the Scene: 1. The argument: mosquito determinism and its limits 2. Atlantic empires and Caribbean ecology 3. Deadly fevers, deadly doctors Part II. Imperial Mosquitoes: 4. From Recife to Kourou: yellow fever takes hold, 1620-1764 5. Cartagena and Havana: yellow fever rampant Part III. Revolutionary Mosquitoes: 6. Lord Cornwallis vs anopheles quadrimaculatus, 1780-1 7. Revolutionary fevers: Haiti, New Granada, and Cuba, 1790-1898 8. Epilogue: vector and virus vanquished.

195 citations

Book
27 Jan 2010
TL;DR: Carney and Rosomoff as discussed by the authors presented a new assessment of the Atlantic slave trade and upended conventional wisdom by shifting attention from the crops slaves were forced to produce to the foods they planted for their own nourishment.
Abstract: The transatlantic slave trade forced millions of Africans into bondage. Until the early nineteenth century, African slaves came to the Americas in greater numbers than Europeans. "In the Shadow of Slavery" provides a startling new assessment of the Atlantic slave trade and upends conventional wisdom by shifting attention from the crops slaves were forced to produce to the foods they planted for their own nourishment. Many familiar foods - millet, sorghum, coffee, okra, watermelon, and the 'Asian' long bean, for example - are native to Africa, while commercial products such as Coca Cola, Worcestershire Sauce, and Palmolive Soap rely on African plants that were brought to the Americas on slave ships as provisions, medicines, cordage, and bedding. In this exciting, original, and groundbreaking book, Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff draw on archaeological records, oral histories, and the accounts of slave ship captains to show how slaves' food plots - 'botanical gardens of the dispossessed' - became the incubators of African survival in the Americas and Africanized the foodways of plantation societies.

131 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The question of whether there can be no black history was first raised by the eponymous dictionary compiler Noah Webster, who wrote, “Of the wooly-haired Africans... there is no history and can be none.” as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: DOI 10.1215/01642472-3315766 © 2016 Duke University Press In 1843 Amos Beman, a black reverend from Connecticut, penned a letter to the eponymous dictionary compiler Noah Webster seeking information on the history of Africa and its people. In reply Webster wrote, “Of the wooly-haired Africans . . . there is no history and can be none.”1 Looking back on this exchange from the vantage point of the present, it is easy to dismiss Webster’s response as a mixture of racial arrogance and racial ignorance. Of course “the wooly-haired Africans” have a history; it has been recounted in innumerable volumes over more than two hundred years. As early as the eighteenth century, black activists and intellectuals believed that recounting examples of black achievement in both antiquity and modernity would form a bulwark of counterevidence against deeply entrenched ideas about black inferiority.2 By the twentieth century, this motley assortment of historical documentation coalesced into a desire among many black collectors and historians to recover black subjects from archives structured by violence and colonial dispossession.3 Yet what if we suspended this initial impulse and took seriously Webster’s claim that there can be no black history? This issue of Social Text takes as its starting point the generative tension between recovery as an imperative that is fundamental to historical writing and research—an imperative infused with political urgency by generations of scholar-activists—and the impossibility of recovery when engaged with archives whose very assembly and organization occlude certain historical subjects. In recent years, the field of Atlantic slavery and freedom has explicitly and forcefully grappled with this tension, as the limits of recovery have reshaped the parameters of scholarly The Question of Recovery

111 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: 4,000-year-old phytoliths from the Monte Castelo shell mound (southwestern Amazonia) provide evidence for an independent rice domestication event in the Americas, and underline the role of wetlands as prime habitats for plant domestication worldwide.
Abstract: The development of agriculture is one of humankind’s most pivotal achievements. Questions about plant domestication and the origins of agriculture have engaged scholars for well over a century, with implications for understanding its legacy on global subsistence strategies, plant distribution, population health and the global methane budget. Rice is one of the most important crops to be domesticated globally, with both Asia (Oryza sativa L.) and Africa (Oryza glaberrima Steud.) discussed as primary centres of domestication. However, until now the pre-Columbian domestication of rice in the Americas has not been documented. Here we document the domestication of Oryza sp. wild rice by the mid-Holocene residents of the Monte Castelo shell mound starting at approximately 4,000 cal. yr bp, evidenced by increasingly larger rice husk phytoliths. Our data provide evidence for the domestication of wild rice in a region of the Amazon that was also probably the cradle of domestication of other major crops such as cassava (Manihot esculenta), peanut (Arachis hypogaea) and chilli pepper (Capsicum sp.). These results underline the role of wetlands as prime habitats for plant domestication worldwide.

83 citations