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Affect and Power

Affect and Power: Essays on Sex, Slavery, Race, and Religion

David J. Libby
Paul Spickard
Susan Ditto
Foreword by Charles Joyner
Introduction by Sheila L. Skemp
Copyright Date: 2005
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  • Book Info
    Affect and Power
    Book Description:

    In 1968, Winthrop D. Jordan published his groundbreaking workWhite Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812and opened up new avenues for thinking about sex, slavery, race, and religion in American culture. Over the course of a forty-year career at the University of California and the University of Mississippi, he continued to write about these issues and to train others to think in new ways about interactions of race, gender, faith, and power.

    Written by former students of Jordan, these essays are a tribute to the career of one of America's great thinkers and perhaps the most influential American historian of his generation. The book visits historical locales from Puritan New England and French Louisiana to nineteenth-century New York and Mississippi, all the way to Harlem swing clubs and college campuses in the twentieth century. In the process, authors listen to the voices of abolitionists and white supremacists, preachers and politicos, white farm women and black sorority sisters, slaves, and jazz musicians.

    Each essay represents an important contribution to the collection's larger themes and at the same time illustrates the impact Jordan exerted on the scholarly life of each author. Collectively, these pieces demonstrate the attentiveness to detail and sensitivity to sources that are hallmarks of Jordan's own work.

    David J. Libby, San Antonio, Texas, is the author ofSlavery and Frontier Mississippi: 1720-1835(University Press of Mississippi). Paul Spickard, Santa Barbara, California, is the co-editor ofRacial Thinking in the United States: Uncompleted Independenceand the author ofMixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America. Susan Ditto, Oxford, Mississippi, is the associate editor ofMississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-062-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xv)
    Charles Joyner

    I first met Winthrop Jordan in the spring of 1978 in the baggage claim area of the airport in Toronto. We were waiting for the shuttle to Waterloo, where Michael Craton had organized a large international slave studies conference. In the airport, on the shuttle, and throughout the conference, we discussed slavery, in particular slave culture and slave language, in which he was very interested. Win strongly encouraged my effort to combine the ethnographer’s preference for spatial concentration with the historian’s commitment to study change over time in a single slave community.

    His reassurance heartened me; for while he was...

    (pp. xvi-xxii)
    Sheila L. Skemp

    At the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, in the Spring of 1998, an overflow crowd gathered to honor the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Winthrop Jordan’s magisterial work,White Over Black. Many of us old folks remembered where we were when the book first appeared, as we marveled at the impact it made on the profession then—an impact that continues to have reverberations even today. Younger scholars joined the conversation, acknowledging that their comprehensive exam lists invariably includeWhite Over Blackas a “must read.” Audience members and panelists alike commented on the book’s merits...

  6. I. SEX

    • THE EROTIC SOUTH Civilization and Sexuality in American Abolitionism
      (pp. 3-24)
      Ronald G. Walters

      American antislavery sentiment took a very different turn after 1831. Whereas early abolitionism accepted a gradual end to slavery, after 1831 immediate emancipation became the goal and abolitionism became a passion driving men and women into lifelong reform careers. Yet slavery was not new in 1831—it had been present for nearly two centuries. And slavery did not suddenly become evil in 1831; by abolitionist logic it had been sinful all along. Still, a number of northern whites who had little direct contact with the institution joined blacks in becoming acutely aware of it, so much so that they felt...

    • MINISTERIAL MISDEEDS The Onderdonk Trial and Sexual Harassment in the 1840s
      (pp. 25-43)
      Patricia Cline Cohen

      In late 1844, the Right Reverend Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Episcopal Bishop of New York, was brought to trial before an ecclesiastical court of his peers on nine counts of “immoralities and impurities” committed against Episcopal women. Followed with intense interest by the public and covered with rapt attention in the secular and religious press, the Onderdonk case generated a best-selling trial report and a heated pamphlet war, focusing sharply on questions of correct gender deportment between ministers and female parishioners. To his supporters, Onderdonk was a man wrongfully accused by enemies within his church who really opposed his theological politics....

    • STALLIONS IN THE CHURCHYARD Sexuality and Privacy in Rural Mississippi
      (pp. 44-64)
      Susan Ditto

      Among a group of laws Mississippi legislators enacted in 1892 to regulate “obscenities” including profanity, possession of “indecent” pictures or literature, and indecent exposure, was an act forbidding the keeping of a stallion or jackass within one hundred yards of a church.¹ A generation or two earlier, breeding stock only raised the hackles of the law when they ran astray and aroused questions regarding ownership and branding rights.² Why would lawmakers who already had their hands full circumventing the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution, redesigning the state flag to include a prominent Confederate symbol, giving bombastic, race-baiting speeches,...


    • RELATIONS WHICH MIGHT BE DISASTROUS Natchez Indians and African Slaves in French Louisiana
      (pp. 67-83)
      David J. Libby

      For generations prior to European contact, the main Natchez village stood on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. A temple atop a ceremonial mound served as the center of Natchez religious and political life. The village chief and high priest, called the Great Sun, recited incantations morning and evening to ensure the rising and the setting of the sun. The Natchez believed their aristocracy was descended from the sun, and thus called this class the Suns. Beneath the Suns in the Natchez hierarchy were the Nobles, followed by the “honored ones.” At the bottom of Natchez society were the “stinkards.”...

    • CHRIST IN CHAINS Slavery’s Negative Impact on the Conversion of African American Slaves
      (pp. 84-104)
      Daniel L. Fountain

      Slave Christianity is frequently described as “a source of strength and endurance that enabled [African Americans] to triumph over the collective tragedy of enslavement.”¹ Such words are typical of the way that most historians use Afro-Christianity to counter the argument that slavery stripped Africans of their culture and reduced them to an infantile state of existence. However, in their worthy attempts to refute racist or inaccurate interpretations of the past, historians have created an illusion of widespread slave Christianity by attributing the behavior of a few slaves to the many. While Afro-Christianity as described in current historical literature was an...

  8. III. RACE

      (pp. 107-125)
      Paul Spickard

      In the spring of 1966, many black and some white and Asian students at Seattle’s inner-city Garfield High School went on strike, asking the school board to devote more resources to educating minority children, hire more minority teachers, and install an antiracist curriculum. One of the speakers at a rally and workshop at Mt. Zion Baptist Church was James Bevel, an organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and intimate of Dr. Martin Luther King. One of the white participants asked Bevel, “What is the place of white people in the Negro revolution?” (Remember, this was 1966 and the terminological...

    • LESTER YOUNG Master of Jive
      (pp. 126-140)
      Douglas Henry Daniels

      Tenor saxophonist Lester “Pres” Young looms large as a hero among jazz fans and writers as well as among musicians. Known as “president” of the tenor saxophone, he gained recognition for his musical genius while playing with leading swing bands of the 1930s, including the 13 Original Blue Devils and the King Oliver and Count Basie bands. Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), Ted Joans, and Al Young have written poems about him; novelist John Clellon Holmes featured a musician modeled after him in The Horn; bassist and composer Charles Mingus composed “Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat” in his memory; and multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan...

    • HOLDING CENTER STAGE Race Pride and the Extracurriculum at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
      (pp. 141-158)
      Patrick B. Miller

      Writing at the turn of the century as scholar, teacher, and prophet, thus drawing a line from his historical studies through his experiences as a professor to his vision for the future of blacks in the United States, W. E. B. Du Bois described the African American colleges of the South as “pillars of fire.” The allusion was to the Book of Exodus, which depicted the flight of the Jews from Egypt and captivity into the Promised Land and freedom. As one of many references inSouls of Black Folk(1903) that underscored Du Bois’ faith in the libratory potential...


    • “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS” William Jay and the Drive for International Arbitration
      (pp. 161-169)
      Stephen P. Budney

      On June 12, 1849, Richard Cobden delivered a speech before the English House of Commons defending his call for the introduction of international arbitration in all future treaties between Britain and other nations. Although many members of Parliament thought his plan absurd, Cobden’s plea was considered respectfully. In his delivery, Cobden noted with sadness and alarm the cost of preparing and maintaining readiness for war. He deplored the fact that inventions capable of advancing the “unalloyed” progress of humankind, such as Fulton’s steam engines, were being turned instead into steam navies. He derided the concept of defensive war, and asked...

      (pp. 170-182)
      Charles L. Cohen

      If one had to select a poster-child to advertise Max Weber’s religious sociology, Puritanism would surely loom among the favorites. Although Weber educed Pietism, Methodism, and Baptist sectarianism as theological sources for the Protestant ethic, his foremost example was “Calvinism”—which in the event meant English Puritanism—and its most prominent adumbrator Richard Baxter, a maddeningly prolific English Puritan.¹ Americans unconsciously betray the logic of equating Protestantism with Puritanism by colloquially rendering Weber’s term as the “Puritan ethic.” Throughout his religious sociology, Weber highlighted arguments by deploying Puritanism over against other faiths, contrasting it with Confucianism as two possible orientations...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 183-221)
    (pp. 222-224)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 225-233)