The Reality of the Civil War

3715221018_907932a4cd_zSitting in a hotel meeting room in downtown Atlanta the weekend before Thanksgiving, I watched a professor ask one of my colleagues if the Civil War really happened. This question reflected an effort to challenge the approach that sees scholars and language creating the world. (For an example of this approach to history, see Vaia Touna’s posts here and here.) The questioner here also emphasized a distinction between history (stuff that really happened in the past) and historiography (the writing about the stuff that happened), suggesting that a focus on analyzing historiography ignores the reality of the events themselves. Continue reading “The Reality of the Civil War”

“This is a New Song…”

edgeyoungHistory is a funny thing — we think it’s removed from us and somewhere in the past, yeah, but inasmuch as we know about it, it’s in the present, right in front of our eyes. In fact, if it isn’t in the present — some tattered artifact settled into our context and far removed from whatever setting it might have once been in — then it might as well be that proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one aware of the crash. Continue reading ““This is a New Song…””

Blurred Boundaries

clintonobamaIn preparation for the first meeting of Culture on the Edge, at the University of Alabama, the group looked at some resources that purport to study identity in a more dynamic, theoretically-engaged way–e.g., works devoted to studies of diaspora, hybridity, syncretism, etc.–in hopes of finding models for how to study the production and movement of identity but without (unintentionally, perhaps) reproducing the very thing one means to study. Continue reading “Blurred Boundaries”