76 Chapters
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8. Politics of Narrative at the African Burial Ground in New York City: The Final Monument

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

ANDREA E. FROHNE

 

 

The African Burial Ground located in lower Manhattan was used by Africans and people of African descent from approximately 1700 until 1790. It covered five to six acres and likely contained the remains of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. A small portion of the African Burial Ground was unearthed in 1991 when the General Services Administration (GSA) built on top of the cemetery a thirty-four-story Federal Office Building at 290 Broadway between Duane and Reade Streets. The eighteenth-century colonial cemetery was located in what has become today's Civic Center of lower Manhattan, surrounded by City Hall, Federal Plaza, and the New York Supreme Court. Because the plot of land at 290 Broadway is prime real estate, it was initially treated as such, rather than as a sacred, historical burial site. Eventually, after community activism and governmental involvement, several commemorative art projects were eventually commissioned for the site.1

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Pattern in Time

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

My argument is done. Architecture provides a prime resource to the one who would write a better history. I will contrive a conclusion with a summary. Our history breaks into three great periods. Its dynamic depends upon impurity.

First is the period of the village, a time of compressed housing and dispersed fields. The great creation of the period was the largest, most permanent, most lavishly adorned building of the community. Collective resources were banked and the collective will was materialized in a sacred edifice that was built to last, when houses were not. It should humble us some that the religious buildings of this period are the world’s greatest architectural creations: the parish churches of England, the stave churches of Norway, the earthen mosques of West Africa, the towering temples of India — Chartres Cathedral, the Selimiye at Edirne, the Todaiji at Nara.

Urnes stave church. Sogn, Norway. 1995

San José. Trampas, New Mexico. 1987

In the beginning, there was the village, a neolithic invention, and in the beginning, there was enclosure. Valiant people carved farms out of the waste and built longhouses to shelter themselves and their stock against wolves and cattle raids. Enclosure expanded steadily, chewing away the wilderness on the margins, but it was blocked on the fat lowlands where enterprise was entangled in intricate webs of rights and obligations. Village people wanted to prosper, but no more than they wanted to live in confidence among their neighbors. Their cooperative arrangements worked economically, and their religion gave them a vision of unity. They wanted to prosper, but they understood that an appetite for worldly goods than ran beyond necessity was avarice — a sin as deadly as gluttony or fornication. The aim of life was sufficiently clarified by Christ’s message that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

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Medium 9780253011428

4. Eating Ethnicity: Spatial Ethnography of Hyderabad House Restaurant on Devon Avenue, Chicago

Edited by Arijit Sen and Lisa Silverman Indiana University Press ePub

ARIJIT SEN

In 2006 an item in the Chicago Tribune announced the closing of Hyderabad House, an ethnic restaurant located on Devon Avenue, a popular and crowded retail street on the northern edge of the metropolis. The heart of a diverse and ever changing immigrant community, Devon Avenue is well known for its Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi stores. Frequent visitors know that ethnic restaurants appear and disappear with regularity on this retail strip, so the only remarkable thing about the Tribune's report was its vivid description of the health hazards in the establishment:

A restaurant on Devon Avenue, a stretch well-known for its global cuisine, was closed Thursday after inspectors found insects, mouse droppings and food held at dangerous temperatures.

The city's Dumpster Task Force visited the Hyderabad House, 2225 W. Devon Ave., after receiving complaints about rodents, but soon found it was a “minefield” of food safety problems, said Matt Smith, spokesman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

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5. Urban Boundaries, Religious Experience, and the North West London Eruv

Edited by Arijit Sen and Lisa Silverman Indiana University Press ePub

JENNIFER A. COUSINEAU

On the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, February 23, 2003, a woman carrying her infant child walked out her front door, through her yard, and into the street.1 This seemingly unremarkable occurrence was an unprecedented act among Sabbath-observant Jews in London. After centuries of Jewish life in London, why should such a mundane gesture mark a significant departure in the experience of the Jewish Sabbath? The catalyst for ritual innovation in this case was a spatial device called an eruv (plural, eruvim). An eruv is a space whose disparate areas are regarded as forming a single domain by virtue of the contiguity of its boundaries. An eruv can be built in a single street, uniting several dwellings on that street, or on a much larger scale, uniting many streets, households, and even neighborhoods. All eruvim, however, require real, physical boundaries. These boundaries tend to be minimalistic and are usually well integrated into the urban built environment. It is often difficult, even for eruv users, to detect the boundary by sight.2 Where possible, preexisting features of the urban environment deemed acceptable according to Jewish law, such as fences, row houses, hedges, railway lines, embankments, major roads, and bridges, can be borrowed imaginatively to create a contiguous boundary for the eruv. Where preexisting urban features are not fully contiguous, under certain circumstances Jewish law can allow for the boundary to be “completed” by erecting poles and wires to close gaps. The erection of some eighty poles in this way permitted the creation of an eruv that now encompasses an area of 6.5 square miles in North West London, including large parts of Hendon, Golders Green, Finchley, and the Hampstead Garden Suburb, and encircling the majority of the Jewish population of North West London. This eruv is known as the North West London Eruv.

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Medium 9780253009913

1 - Normal Life in the Former Socialist City

Fehérváry, Krisztina Indiana University Press ePub

In the mid-1990s in Dunaújváros, half a decade after the fall of state socialism, long lines once again formed in front of shops, but now for lottery tickets. An editorial on the front page of the local newspaper attempted to articulate the sentiments of the people standing in these lines, people still living in concrete apartment blocks, whose standard of living had declined rather than improved in the tumultuous years since the incursion of market capitalism.

Most people know…that unfortunately in this world it takes a lot of money for a full life. If you want to update your library, travel, see the world; if you want to have a livable home, drive a normal car, and occasionally have a respectable dinner—for these you need a small fortune. (Dunaújvárosi Hírlap, June 3, 1997)

Throughout my fieldwork, people used terms like “livable,” “normal,” and “respectable” to refer to services, goods, and material worlds that met their expectations of life after the end of state socialism. New telephone systems, automatic teller machines, twenty-four-hour convenience stores, and courteous sales clerks were amenities that many Hungarians associated with the dignity accorded respectable citizens of a “First World.” In contrast, they understood obsolete technologies and infrastructures, corruption and rude behavior, and the frantic pace of everyday life to be vestiges of a discredited socialist system. Scholars have reported similar uses of “normal” throughout central Eastern Europe and the Baltics during this period, as people used it to refer to things that were clearly extraordinary in their local context, but were imagined to be part of average lifestyles in Western Europe or the United States.

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Medium 9780253016706

1 Depopulation, Demolition, and Repopulation of the Village Sites

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

ON THE EVE of the violent events of 1948, the Arab population of British Mandatory Palestine amounted to 1.2 million, of them 850,000 within the borders of what is today recognized as the State of Israel proper; they constituted the great majority of the population of that area. Arab-Palestinian society of the time was largely agricultural, with some two-thirds of the Palestinian population before the war living in villages. Most of the Arab workforce in 1947 in Palestine worked in agriculture.1 On their land the Arab villagers cultivated nearly ten thousand acres of orchards, mostly citrus fruit (on the coastal plain) and olives (in the mountainous areas), as well as figs, grapes, deciduous fruits, and bananas. In the rest of the cultivated area the villagers grew vegetables, legumes, and grains.2

Most of the residents of Arab villages in Palestine were Sunni Muslim, with Christian, Druze, and Shi‘ite minorities present. The majority of the villages stood on hilltops, often built on top of, or in continuation of, much older settlements. In the mountain areas the houses were usually made of stone, and in the coastal plain houses were often constructed of mud.3 In the twentieth century, with the citrus boom, quality of life in the plain improved, and more modern houses began to appear. Every village typically had public structures for religious and social purposes, and later on schools were set up, usually in the largest building in the village.4

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9. Who Owns the Past?: Constructing an Art History of a Malian Masquerade

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

MARY JO ARNOLDI

 

Since the 1980s anthropologists have paid increasingly more attention to issues of ethnographic authority, fieldwork reciprocity, and the way that collaboration through interviews profoundly shapes the production of scholarly narratives.1 This chapter focuses on the critical role that interviews have played in my field research and in the writing of an art history of youth association masquerades in Mali.2 My analysis considers the ways that interviews are both collaborative and cumulative processes. I examine my interviews with various individuals and groups and look at the ways that my casual conversations, as well as more formal taped interviews with men and women performers and with male blacksmith-carvers, have been instrumental in the production of an art history of this art form. These collaborations represent different but intersecting domains of knowledge and experience that have each contributed in critical ways to shaping, reshaping, and extending the scholarly narrative about these masquerades.

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Social Orders

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

Technology’s political questions do not come into focus in the situation described as ideal by writers on vernacular architecture. In the ideal, design, construction, and use — domains of potential conflict — unify in a single man who gathers materials from his own land to build for himself the building he wants. Such things happen.

In 1938, Richard Hutto built a barn near Oakman, Alabama. He cut the trees on his own farm, dragged them to the site with a mule, and he raised them, alone, into a building. Its form is what scholars call a double-crib barn, and they can trace the plan from Alabama along the mountains to Pennsylvania, and from Pennsylvania to Central Europe. Mr. Hutto took the form from the memories he developed out of life in his locale. He trimmed the trees, cut them to length, and he notched their ends to interlock at the corner in a variety of timbering that the geographer Fred Kniffen named V-notching. Mr. Hutto called it “roof-topping.”

Richard Hutto’s barn was all his. It had only him to blame, it seems. But, when we talked in 1964, he attributed its failings to the times in which he worked. He told me he was thinking of tearing it down. It did not satisfy him because he had been forced to build it alone. He did not have the help of a black laborer as Pete Everett did when he built a barn, similar in form and construction, near Pine Hill, Mississippi, one year earlier. Mr. Hutto did it alone, but in the better days of the farther past, he said, a team of neighbors would have gathered to help. With more energy available, the timbers would have been hewn, rather than left in the round. Poles, he called them, not logs. The team would have included experts with the proper tools. The ends of the logs would have been trimmed cleanly with a saw, instead of raggedly with a chopping axe.

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1 Historic Preservation

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Henry Glassie

Historic preservation is a natural aspect of human existence, an inevitable result of our being creatures of memory and intention. We select and protect things to locate ourselves in time, in space, in society. The old woman on a green hill in Ireland washes weekly and displays daily her precious collection of plates; each was a gift and together they map her connections to family and friends, both living and dead. The young Turkish woman in a rocky mountain village folds into a studded chest her gathering of textiles, embroidered or woven by her grandmother, her aunt, her beloved sister. The Chinese potter fills his cramped apartment with antique crocks and jars that heal the rupture of the Cultural Revolution and provide him models for creation. The old soldier polishes his granddaddy’s sword. The jazz master still has the trombone he played in the high school band. I have the family Bible, inscribed in different hands between the testaments with the dates of births and deaths running back to the eighteenth century. The things we save position us in the flow of time, helping us remember the past and imagine the future, keeping us balanced for contingency, sane and ready.

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10 Preservation in Our Parks: A Natural Fit

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Vicki Basman & Benjamin Clark

From its flat, lake-studded terrain in the north to the rolling hills of the Ohio River valley in the south, the Hoosier state is composed of an extraordinary variety of natural landscapes. The dense forest, meandering creeks, and rugged ground that so tried the determination of early nineteenth-century settlers have been prized for their beauty by generations since.

Many of Indiana’s most striking places would not be intact for us today had it not been for the efforts of a German expatriate. Richard Lieber, educated son of a genteel Dusseldorf family, visited Indianapolis in 1891 at the age of twenty-two and decided to stay. He quickly became involved in various entrepreneurial ventures, most notable among them the Richard Lieber Company, which bottled soft drinks and medicinal waters and later added imported wines, whiskies, and champagne.

On two vacations to the western United States – the first to California in 1900, the second to Montana and Idaho in 1904 – Lieber witnessed the grandeur of Yosemite and other undeveloped lands – the “high-vaulted temples of nature,” he called them. Awed by their majesty, and acutely aware that these, like so many other places, were threatened by short-sighted policies that viewed genuine riches in mere financial terms, Lieber became passionately involved in conservation.

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9 Where’s the Porch? and Other Intersections between Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Cheryl Ann Munson

At a historic preservation conference in the 1980s, I was introduced to a noted preservationist and dedicated champion of Indiana’s historic places. Upon learning that I was an archaeologist, he mentioned that he was involved in restoring a house; workers had nearly finished repairing the foundation, but he wondered whether the house would have had porches across its front and back. My specialty within the discipline of archaeology is prehistoric Native American cultures, not nineteenth-century residences, so I did not expect this line of inquiry. (I also wondered why the question wasn’t answered before restoration began.) Still, my questioner was not entirely out of line, considering that archaeologists in the United States have collaborated with historic preservation professionals since the beginning of the preservation movement.

When it comes to preservation, structural and archaeological sites share the same legal foundation, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which created the National Register of Historic Places and incorporated the National Historic Landmarks program under the administration of the National Park Service. Congress included Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as a procedure whereby sponsors of federally funded projects are required to consult with State Historic Preservation Officers to identify, evaluate, and treat historic properties that may be eligible for the National Register. Historic properties include buildings, bridges, and battlefields of the historic era in the United States but also prehistoric Native American villages, mounds, and camp sites. At the state level, laws and procedures generally mirror those of the federal government, so it is no surprise that our State Historic Preservation Office was named the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

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Architectural Technology

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

The relation of the human and nonhuman begins its transformation in the first step of technology, the selection of materials. A distinction between local and imported materials was among the first criteria that writers, in England particularly, used to define vernacular architecture. Vernacular buildings are composed of local materials, they argued. During travel, they enjoyed watching the substrate of the earth rise and form into buildings, crossing the land in bands of sandstone, limestone, and granite, and they deplored the rash of red brick buildings that spread along the railways, oblivious to geological differences. Their taste was built on conventional dichotomies: natural and artificial, native and alien, old and new, local and national, handmade and industrial. The contemporary cynic would find their view easy to deconstruct as elitist and dismiss as sentimental. But they were on to something.

During architectural fieldwork, I have taught myself to concentrate on form, but everywhere I go the people whose houses I study classify buildings by materials, and especially by roofing. I found in Turkey that the local historians separated old houses with flat roofs from new houses with pitched roofs covered by purchased materials. In Bangladesh, village people, thinking less about history than social class, divide buildings by the materials of their walls — stuccoed brick versus puddled mud or bamboo lashed in tension — and by their roofs of thatch or tin. In Africa and Latin America, thatch is comparably yielding to tin, and in the rural United States one age gave way to another when wooden shingles were replaced by shiny sheets of metal.

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Architectural Decoration

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

Ornament creates an exciting tension within architectural experience when the inside and outside are treated differently. Ellen Cutler whitewashes the exterior of her house in Ballymenone. The whitewash confirms the unity of the building and separates it cleanly from its natural surround of muddy lanes and grassy fields. On its exterior, her house is solid and singular, artful in its massing and its unrelieved whiteness. Step over the threshold. The brightness of the whitewash continues in the buffed and polished surfaces of the things she calls ornaments: the brass candlesticks and enameled dogs on the mantel, the pictures and plates on the walls. But similarities are swept away by differences. The hard, plain unity of the exterior yields to the softness of textiles, to a busy, glittery dance of little things, to a rainbow of color and a happy cacophony of pattern.

The walls of her kitchen darken from smoke nearly as often as the walls outside darken in the wet weather. Nearly as often as she whitewashes the exterior, she papers the kitchen, covering its walls with running, repetitive patterns of medallions. Mud tracked in by the damned old men, when they come from the fields for their tea, causes her to scrub the floor every day. So it will shine, she covers the floor with a smooth sheet of linoleum that brings another pattern to her kitchen. And more patterns come on the strips of cloth that cover the tables, curtain the openings, and run along the shelves of the mantel and dresser.

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6. Interview: Akinbode Akinbiyi

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

AKINBODE AKINBIYI

Interviewer: After months of trying to arrange a meeting with Akinbode Akinbiyi, I eventually tied him down to a date and time in what he calls his home city, Lagos. He actually lives in Berlin, and it was there that I often emailed him. Of Nigerian parentage, he was born in Oxford, England, just after the Second World War. He claims that one of his first childhood memories is of his parents talking about the horrors of this war, the weight of darkness that came across in their discussions and in the quiet modulations of their adult voices.

At the age of three and some, he left Oxford together with his recently born brother to return with his parents to Lagos. There, his memories are much clearer and he remembers vividly walking to primary school nearby the home in which they lived, the wide expanse of the streets spread out before him.

Mr. Akinbiyi, those early walks to and back from school, were those the beginnings of your wanderlust?

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3 Ode to a Bungalow

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Teresa Miller

As I sit writing, I look out the west window through a curtain of lace, slatted wooden blinds, and mullions. My gaze moves on through the boughs of two century-old firs standing guard over the dignified front porch of the neighboring house. Additional trees provide a tracery of branches in winter and a comforting green canopy in summer. My view stops at the historic Dunning House, beautifully proportioned with twin porches flanking a two-story brick central structure. Toward dusk the sky changes color – first, from bright cerulean to a dusty, smoky blue. As the sun lowers, the light reflects off the bottoms of the clouds in colors ranging from lavender to pink, perhaps with bit of ochre. The changes in cloud form and color may be subtle or striking, but they are always beautiful at that magic moment of early evening. It is a view that evokes a past of tree-lined streets, graceful buildings, and a slower-paced life. How did I come to be so fortunate as to be able to sit in my study and enjoy such a sweet view?

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