As 2018 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on this year and its meaning for a place that has become near and dear to my heart (and in-progress dissertation): New Orleans. Founded by the French in 1718, Louisiana’s largest city has been celebrating its tricentennial for months and in a way that only New Orleans can. Ranked number one on the New York Times “52 Places to Go in 2018” list, New Orleans continues to attract first-timers curious to discover “America’s most foreign city.” Repeat visitors, myself included, just can’t get enough, although my trips have taken me beyond Bourbon Street, from the attic of the city’s colonial-era Ursuline convent to the notarial archives of Orleans Parish, hidden within a twenty-story office building a stone’s throw from the Superdome. My own excursions aside, how exactly have we gone about celebrating, remembering, and thinking about the history of early New Orleans in 2018? What does the future hold?
Encounters, Entanglements, and Exchanges
Fifteenth Annual Yale American Art History Graduate Student Symposium
Yale University, New Haven, 6 April 2019
Proposals due by 1 February 2019
Points of encounter can occur across time and space. In colonial Mexico, blue and white earthenware vessels made in the city of Puebla responded to East Asian hard-paste porcelain. At the same time, ceramic manufacturers in China adapted designs that catered to pan-American tastes, and both John Bartlam’s South Carolina pottery and the American China Manufactory in Philadelphia produced their own soft-paste porcelain wares on the eve of the American Revolution. More recently, Carrie Mae Weems’s The Hampton Project reexamined a nineteenth-century vocational school that served as a cultural crossroads for formerly enslaved African Americans, American Indians, and white Americans to raise pressing questions of race, imperialism, and nationalism in the twenty-first century. These points of convergence between individuals, groups, places, and objects often instigate shifts in creative production with lasting and global resonances. The interaction of disparate cultures offers a rich nexus for artistic creation. Yet such encounters are also inseparable from the shifting dynamics of power that operate along gendered, racial, economic, and political lines. What can exchanges and entanglements reveal about the nature of encounter? How do encounters shape exchanges? In what ways do exchanges propagate new encounters?
The Fifteenth Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Student Symposium invites papers that interrogate the dialectical relationship between encounter and exchange and explore the legacies of cultural intersection. We invite submissions that address art across North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, that engage a range of critical perspectives, and that speak to a variety of time periods and artistic practices.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
• Micro-histories that address a specific instance of encounter
• Global encounters with the notion of ‘Americanness’
• Collaborations that problematize narratives of ‘influence’ across social, cultural, or political hierarchies
• Impact of religious proselytization and conversion in the arts
• Gift exchange, diplomacy, and trade
• Appropriation, fetishism, hybridity, and mimicry
• Contact zones, borderlands, intersectionality, and peripheries
• Power dynamics within systems of colonialism, racism, homophobia, or sexism
• Immigration, migrants, and refugees
• Authorship and ownership
• Tourism and travel narratives
• Activism, coalition building, and the arts
• Networks created via technology, globalization, and media
Interested participants are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 350 words along with a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 February 2019. Accepted participants will be notified in mid-February. Accommodations will be provided for all graduate student speakers in New Haven, Connecticut.
Today’s guest post comes from Rachel Zimmerman (Ph.D., University of Delaware), Assistant Professor of Art History at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She has been studying the art and architecture of the Brazilian town of Minas Gerais since her first trip to the region in 2006. She began examining consumption in colonial Brazil for her dissertation, “Global Luxuries at Home: The Material Possessions of an Elite Family in Eighteenth-Century Minas Gerais, Brazil,” and is continuing research for a book project on elite material culture in the city of Mariana. Follow her work here.
According to the early nineteenth-century English merchant John Luccock, it was customary for Brazilian men to discard stiff outer layers when at home and wear only a cotton shirt, often unbuttoned, knee-length breeches, and clogs. Brazilian standards of decorum permitted informal dress in domestic settings, even when receiving guests. Examination of colonial-era probate inventories from Minas Gerais, the gold mining district, reveals that a small number of educated elite men transformed their state of undress from ordinary to stylish with the addition of a nightgown. Continue reading
For early Americanists, the past two decades have seen an increase in scholarship connecting the early modern Caribbean to colonial North America. The Caribbean adds significant depth and dimension to discussions of race, slavery, diplomacy, capitalism, gender, and imperial competition by expanding the historiographies and archival resources common to early American scholarship. Yet, when a colleague stopped by my office asking for readings on seventeenth-century Puerto Rico to assign for a class, I drew a blank. Despite the excellent scholarship on colonial Puerto Rico written in Spanish, English-language scholarship focuses primarily on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
What made this worse was that last Thursday was the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico. And, while the devastation and continued struggles on the island garner on-going media attention, the anniversary set me thinking about the place of the Caribbean in our scholarship and our teaching. It seems that, despite increased attention to the Caribbean within the field of vast early America, not all Caribbeans are created equal. And that unevenness demands our attention. Continue reading
I have never heard anything like those frogs. I was crunching along the gravel walkway from Historic Jamestowne back to the bus after the final reception of the Omohundro Institute conference in June. As I walked through the woods, the James River at my back, the calls of frogs and insects hammered at the air, drowning out the chatter of other attendees and the crunch of my own footsteps.
An hour before, I had gazed down into the archaeological dig of a kitchen site, in which researchers had discovered what they argue are cannibalized human remains in 2012. All the hairs on my neck stood up. Continue reading
When Wim Klooster’s Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History was published in 2009, it was one of the first monographs to bring together the American, French, Haitian, and Spanish American revolutions in a single English-language volume. Revolutions in the Atlantic World quickly became a seminal text, finding its way on many Atlantic history syllabi, comprehensive exam reading lists, and on researchers’ shelves. In January 2018, New York University Press released a second edition that incorporates historiography from the past nine years, including scholarship on indigenous peoples and privateers. Tomorrow, Jordan Taylor will have his review of this second edition. Today, The Junto’s Julia M. Gossard interviews Klooster about the book’s second edition, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Revolutions.
As we continue to learn more about the seizure and internment of migrant infants and children, both along the U.S.-Mexico border and in ICE raids throughout the nation, historians have asked us to wrestle with our long history of child-snatching, family separation, and child trafficking. I’ve read these pieces with a keen sense that while this is a particularly acute theme in American history, separating and abducting children from their families has been a tactic that many regimes have used for centuries to bolster their power. Whether we’re discussing slavery, the expulsion of Moriscos from Spain, or even pronatalist policies to populate early modern colonies, trafficking children has been an enduring state tactic. As a historian of #VastEarlyAmerica, with a focus on the French context, I keep thinking about the growth of the Louisiana colony in the eighteenth century. In addition to the forced migration and abduction of thousands of enslaved Africans, many of whom were children and adolescents, eighteenth-century French Louisiana was also populated with trafficked French children. Continue reading