Research Trajectory #5: The Natural History Collections of Bermuda

empire trees climate

Using Natural History Specimens in Interdisciplinary Research on Past Ecologies

Kirsten Greer

I am the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Histories and Geographies and am interested in how we can use historical natural history specimens (e.g. birds, plants, rocks) as cultural artifacts to examine global environmental change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Over the last decade, there has been a growing body of work recognizing the value of historical natural history specimens as valuable sources of data in global environmental change. Many of these specimens date back to over 150 years ago, and provide insight into environmental change over time when examined with contemporary records.

However, as critical scholars have emphasized, such historical natural history materials reflect not just simple representations of reality but were entangled in systems of knowledge and power in varying places and times. For example, a number of natural history collections in British museums connect to…

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For Sale: Cuba’s Revolutionary Figured World — Age of Revolutions

By María A. Cabrera Arús Over more than five decades, Cubans have become familiar with a revolutionary iconography constructed, in part, around a sartorial style characterized by olive-drab fatigue uniforms, black military boots, and long, disheveled beards. I have argued elsewhere that this sartorial identity played a determinant role in the construction of an olive-green […]

via For Sale: Cuba’s Revolutionary Figured World — Age of Revolutions

Haiti Links

Haiti has been in the international news this past week, not due to anything of its own making. In the aftermath, historians of Haiti have been very active, taking advantage of the spotlight to get Haiti’s story out there, in all its complexity. I’ve compiled a list of links to some responses to President Trump’s alleged slur, as well as some digital databases which will enable research on Haiti and its past. Please feel free to contact me with any additional links or content.

Haiti: A Reading List, from the University Press of Florida. And as a bonus, these books are all 30% off until 31 January, 2018 in the Press’ New Year Sale.

Read the introduction to Laurent Dubois’ 2012 book Haiti The Aftershocks of History.

50 Haitian Children’s Books about Haiti and Haitian Culture.

Duke University’s Radio Haiti Archive – audio from Radio Haiti-Inter, documenting Haitian politics, society & culture, 1957-2003

New York Times column, 12 January 2018: Haiti’s Resilience as Seen Through Literature

Washington Post column, 12 January 2018: This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a shithole

A list of responses to President Trump’s comments on Haiti, published on HNet (Humanities and Social Sciences Online) 13 January, 2018, compiled by Dr Marlene Daut, with links. See also the H-Haiti Blog.

‘Currents in Conversation: Race, Racism and Immigration’ – a panel discussion at the Carter G. Woodson Institute, university of Virginia, 22 January 2018. The discussion will be recorded and later available to listen via the Institute’s website. I’ll update this post once there is a link to the discussion, but details of the event are available here.

If you click on the tag Haiti below, you’ll see all the other posts I’ve published about Haiti – many contain details of digital resources for researching Haiti’s past.

And because I’ve spent much of this week revising a thesis chapter which touches on the Haitian Revolution and War of Independence, I must point out the excellent chronology of Haitian history (from 1492 to 1817) in Youngquist & Pierrot’s edition of Marcus Rainsford’s An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti (1805). The chronology appears on pages xi-xv.

 

 

 

 

New Book: “Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean”

I’m looking forward to getting a chance to read this—scholarship which listens out for the voices from the archives of the enslaved is difficult but vital work.

Repeating Islands

surv15720

Randy M. Browne’s Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean was published in July 2017 by University of Pennsylvania Press.

Diana Paton (Edinburgh University) explains that “Randy M. Browne’s important study of the late slavery period in Berbice uses a rich, but surprisingly underused, set of sources—reports of the fiscals and protectors of slaves—to take a fresh approach to the study of Caribbean slave societies. Browne is attentive to the multiple dynamics of power and the complexity of the situation of many enslaved people.”

Vincent Brown (author of The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery) writes: “Drawing upon a remarkable archive of protests by the enslaved, Randy M. Browne thoroughly reimagines the politics of slavery. Listening intently to his sources, he carefully teases out the slaves’ multifaceted struggle for survival in some of the most brutal conditions ever known. This illuminates the elemental nature of…

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Black History Month UK: Links

As Black History Month kicked off in the UK this week, my twitter feed has featured some fascinating research and writing about Britain’s black history. I’ll update this page as the month progresses with links to articles, historians, writers etc which contribute to getting Britain’s black history out in the public domain.

 

Melissa Bennett, UK-based historian of the Caribbean and photography – check out her Instagram blog

English Heritage has uncovered the identities of 2,500 Afro-Caribbean prisoners of war kept at Portchester Castle in England. This website tells the story of the prisoners’ transportation and life at Portchester.

Fay Young’s article on Sceptical Scot about Black History Month in Scotland

Black History Month in the UK

100 Great Black Britons relaunches for 2017

 

Review: Marisa Fuentes, DISPOSSESSED LIVES

Professor Park's Blog

Sometimes the best thing a book can do is make you feel guilty. That is certainly the case with the book I’m gisting today.

There were more enslaved women in the colonial port town of Bridgetown, found on the western edge of Barbados, than any other demographic group. So why do they receive such little attention? Marisa J. Fuentes, in her provocative book Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (UPenn Press, 2016), argues that the traditional archive was constructed in such a way to inflict perpetual violence upon women. Until that narrative is disrupted, historians continue to partake in this original sin. Fuentes’s book is, she explains, an attempt at “redress” (12). Dispossessed Lives follows the stories of a handful of women in the eighteenth century through the lens of documents that only peripherally mention them: a runaway named Jane, a mulatto brothel, an enslaved woman who was…

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“(In)forming Revolution Series: Information Networks in the Age of Revolutions” – Introduction

Throughout September, the Age of Revolutions blog is publishing a series of blogposts in the “(In)forming Revolution Series: Information Networks in the Age of Revolutions.”  Many of the posts will include Caribbean history and connections.

Age of Revolutions

By Bryan A. Banks

“We have entered the information age, and the future, it seems, will be determined by the media. In fact, some would claim that the modes of communication have replaced the modes of production as the driving force of the modern world. I would like to dispute that view. Whatever its value as prophecy, it will not work as history, because it conveys a specious sense of a break with the past. I would argue that every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that communication systems have always shaped events.”

Robert Darnton, Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Chicago, January 5, 2000.

Robert Darnton, Emeritus Harvard University librarian and renowned historian of the French Enlightenment, delivered a lecture on the history of communication before a large crowd at the American Historical Association. Only…

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Exploring the literary geographies of the Haitian Revolution: print & online

The latest edition of SX Salon contains a detailed and thoughtful review by Erin Zavitz of Dr Marlene Daut’s 2015 book Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865SX Salon is a literary platform which reviews and engages with Caribbean literature, broadly defined, and is part of the larger SX project.

Click here to read the review.

I’m always on the lookout for freely available digital resources so was excited to see links within Zavitz’s review to two digital projects connected with Tropics of Haiti. Both are brilliant examples of different ways of presenting information—not to mention demonstrating Daut’s generosity as a scholar in sharing her work.

The first online project is Fictions of the Haitian Revolution, in which Daut lists the hundreds of texts she uncovered whilst researching her book. The site lists works in French, English, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and German.  Daut updates the site regularly with news about Tropics of Haiti, the Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, and her archival findings.

The second resource is an online story map of the Revolution, The Haitian Atlantic: A Literary Geography.  The site traces some of the ways that Atlantic world writers attempted to engage with the history, language, and legacy of the Haitian Revolution in the long nineteenth century. Take a look – this is a beautiful site.

 

Slavery, Freedom and the Jamaican Landscape | British Library – Picturing Places

The link below will take you to an article written by Miles Ogborn, Professor of Geography at Queen Mary University of London.

Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King’s Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates this community of escaped slaves and their attempts to win back independence.