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Academic approaches to the Blues.
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isaacullah
2228 posts
Jan 09, 2013
11:49 AM
In Blues Talk #3, Adam points out how the folklorists, historians, and ethnomusicologists have largely created the dialog (including the basic terminology) of Blues study. Being an archaeologist myself, I was curious about what my own discipline has brought to the table of Blues research. Well, after a fairly exhaustive search of the literature, I am a bit dismayed to find that it brings ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That is, there is not one single paper or report about the archaeology of the blues or Jukes or anything like that. There are a few small smatterings of research into racially segregated parts of towns during the Jim Crow era, but by and large the attention of historical archaeologists have been turned towards the archaeology of Slavery and the African Diaspora. Archaeologists' interests apparently peter out after the Civil War.

I'm brining this up because Archaeology touts itself as a discipline that can "give voice to the voiceless". Since so much of Blues history was oral (and thus now forgotten), it seems to me that a discipline like archaeology would have A LOT to bring to the table... Perhaps one of these days I'll have to remedy that...

But what about other disciplines? What do/can they bring to the discussion of Blues studies?

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isaacullah
2230 posts
Jan 09, 2013
1:17 PM
well, I was able to find a *little* bit more stuff when using the search terms "the archaeology of racism". Actually, I was searching those terms for a fellow prof hear at Notre Dame who is teaching a course on Race and Racism and came to me wondering if there was anything known about racism in ancient times (there's not a lot). Almost ALL of the articles in this subfield have to do with slavery times in America. A very few of them have to do with segragation in urban areas, and I did find one on Apartheid. As far as I know, the "biggest" racially charged archaeological discovery was of the African cemetery in New York City (lower Manhattan) in the late 1980's. That was a very interesting thing. It sparked a lot of protests and questions about who owns what, and who gets to decide about what happens to the remains. A lot of the Black Nationalists wanted the excavations halted and considered it a desecration (actually, very similar to how many Native American activists feel about archaeology). Have a look at the wikipedia site on the Burial Grounds (it's a national monument now): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Burial_Ground_National_Monument

Adam, were you still in NYC when that whole thing was going down? What did you make of it?
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TetonJohn
59 posts
Jan 09, 2013
3:59 PM
Hey, isaacullah, I went to grad school with a friend who teaches at ND -- Kevin C. in the Sociology Dept. (we haven't really kept in touch).


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