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Cultures in Motion

Cultures in Motion

Daniel T. Rodgers
Bhavani Raman
Helmut Reimitz
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgd71
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  • Book Info
    Cultures in Motion
    Book Description:

    In the wide-ranging and innovative essays ofCultures in Motion, a dozen distinguished historians offer new conceptual vocabularies for understanding how cultures have trespassed across geography and social space. From the transformations of the meanings and practices of charity during late antiquity and the transit of medical knowledge between early modern China and Europe, to the fusion of Irish and African dance forms in early nineteenth-century New York, these essays follow a wide array of cultural practices through the lens of motion, translation, itinerancy, and exchange, extending the insights of transnational and translocal history.

    Cultures in Motionchallenges the premise of fixed, stable cultural systems by showing that cultural practices have always been moving, crossing borders and locations with often surprising effect. The essays offer striking examples from early to modern times of intrusion, translation, resistance, and adaptation. These are histories where nothing--dance rhythms, alchemical formulas, musical practices, feminist aspirations, sewing machines, streamlined metals, or labor networks--remains stationary.

    In addition to the editors, the contributors are Celia Applegate, Peter Brown, Harold Cook, April Masten, Mae Ngai, Jocelyn Olcott, Mimi Sheller, Pamela Smith, and Nira Wickramasinghe.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4989-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Cultures in Motion: AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)
    Daniel T. Rodgers

    For historians, place has been almost as foundational as gravity is to physics. A sense of bounded, stable location frames most of their professional identities and still saturates most of their work. Ask most historians what they do, and they answer geographically. They are historians of early-modern Europe, the preconquest Americas, ancient Rome, or modern Japan. Time provides the adjective; but the noun is place. The site in question may be a nation (France, Brazil), a continent (Africa), a city (London), a region (the American West), an empire (Roman, Soviet), or any of the precisely drawn and variegated locales of...

  5. Part I: The Circulation of Cultural Practices

    • CHAPTER 1 The Challenge Dance: BLACK-IRISH EXCHANGE IN ANTEBELLUM AMERICA
      (pp. 23-59)
      April F. Masten

      In his 1843 edition ofTraits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Irish writer William Carleton described the accomplishments of Bob M’Cann, whom he encountered in a “remote and isolated” part of Ireland.¹ “Bob’s crack feat,” Carleton recalled, “was performing theScrew-pin Dance, of which we have only this to say, that by whatsoever means he became acquainted with it, it is precisely the same dance which is said to have been exhibited by some strolling Moor before the late Queen Caroline.”² It is not surprising that Carleton recorded Bob’s screw-pin dance in his volume since the love of dancing...

    • CHAPTER 2 Musical Itinerancy in a World of Nations: GERMANY, ITS MUSIC, AND ITS MUSICIANS
      (pp. 60-86)
      Celia Applegate

      In November 1862, Johannes Brahms wrote an anguished letter to Clara Schumann about being passed over as conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic—“where may I and can I [go now]?” he wrote. “[I am] set loose to fly about all alone in empty space.” Two decades later, in 1884, he composed five songs (Opus 94), the fifth of which was a bleak setting of a poem by Friedrich Halm: “No house, no homeland, no wife and no child; thus I am whirled like a straw in storm and wind.” That same summer, he identified himself, when registering with the police...

    • CHAPTER 3 From Patriae Amator to Amator Pauperum and Back Again: SOCIAL IMAGINATION AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE WEST BETWEEN LATE ANTIQUITY AND THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES, CA. 300–600
      (pp. 87-106)
      Peter Brown

      This is a study of the body image of a society in motion—and in motion over time.¹ It traces changes in the social imagination of populations of the Roman and post-Roman, Latin West between 300 and 600 CE. It will describe (and attempt, if only in part, to explain) how a society that had been characterized by a “classical,” pointedly civic notion of society moved to a Christianized, postclassical notion of the community. The classical model took the individual city as its primary unit. It stressed the distinction between citizens and noncitizens, in a manner that effectively excluded slaves,...

  6. Part II: Objects in Transit

    • CHAPTER 4 Knowledge in Motion: FOLLOWING ITINERARIES OF MATTER IN THE EARLY MODERN WORLD
      (pp. 109-133)
      Pamela H. Smith

      Red is the color of blood and life. Its symbolic power can be glimpsed in the practices of prehistory, when red pigment was used to paint human remains and cinnabar—the red ore of mercury—ornamented tombs from the Near and Middle East in the seventh millennium BCE to the sprawlingurbsof Çatal Hüyük in the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE.¹ Red is primal, and it appears to have possessed symbolic significance—perhaps universally—across the globe. In early modern Europe, red pigment was produced by grinding red ochre clay or by boiling, drying, and grinding madder root, or...

    • CHAPTER 5 Fashioning a Market: THE SINGER SEWING MACHINE IN COLONIAL LANKA
      (pp. 134-164)
      Nira Wickramasinghe

      Colonies were crucial markets for products such as the sewing machine. Consumption in the colony was, in consequence, an important site through which ideas about a global market came to be consolidated from the late nineteenth century, a period often termed as the age of international capitalism. Historians of international capitalism, however, have sparingly studied the experience and practices of this consumption and have paid scant attention to the market driven modernity sponsored by modern imperialism. Even Sidney Mintz’sSweetness and Power, which captures so well both the openness of local history and its conditioning by larger-scale structures, reinforces the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Speed Metal, Slow Tropics, Cold War: ALCOA IN THE CARIBBEAN
      (pp. 165-194)
      Mimi Sheller

      Aluminum played a crucial part in creating our contemporary world both in the material sense of enabling all of the new technologies that we associate with mobile modernity, and in the ideological sense of underwriting a world vision (and creative visualization) that privileges speed, lightness, and mobility.¹ The material culture of aluminum deeply influenced the ideas, practices, and meanings attached to movement in the twentieth century.² Aluminum put the world in motion, and the performance of mobility generated symbolic economies revolving around the aesthetics of aerodynamic speed, accelerated mobility, and modernist technological futurism. The built environment that has grown up...

  7. Part III: Translations

    • CHAPTER 7 The True Story of Ah Jake: LANGUAGE, LABOR, AND JUSTICE IN LATE-NINETEENTH-CENTURY SIERRA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
      (pp. 197-214)
      Mae M. Ngai

      Myriad circuits of trade and migration composed the Pacific world in the nineteenth century, connecting East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, and the Americas, and creating throughout this world contact zones, new settlements, and cultural borderlands.¹ This essay is a microhistory that finds in a strange and unusual case—a murder trial of a Chinese gold miner in California—larger social and cultural patterns of colonial and race relations. Specifically it finds in the transpacific circulations of language and diasporic labor organization problems of legibility and translation that are immanent of cultural mixing and collision.

      My interest in this case was...

    • CHAPTER 8 Creative Misunderstandings: CHINESE MEDICINE IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY EUROPE
      (pp. 215-240)
      Harold J. Cook

      Historians of medicine, no less than others, are facing up to the implications for our subject in light of “global” history. The challenges of thinking about a global history of any kind are very great, but they may be greatest for fields that consider aspects of the history of ideas. Global history is a very important tool for representing connections among people based on the exchange of goods, objects, and specimens, which can flow across cultural borders and be meaningfully reinscribed in new contexts. But while the movement of material things may set the stage for exchanges of knowledge, too,...

    • CHAPTER 9 Transnational Feminism: EVENT, TEMPORALITY, AND PERFORMANCE AT THE 1975 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S YEAR CONFERENCE
      (pp. 241-266)
      Jocelyn Olcott

      In mid-June 1975, thousands of people converged on Mexico City for the United Nations World Conference marking International Women’s Year (IWY). Billed as the “world’s largest consciousness-raising session,” the conference opened with fanfare and ceremony, drawing some twelve hundred delegates to the intergovernmental conference and an estimated six thousand more to a parallel nongovernmental organization (NGO) tribune.¹ As demonstrators outside protested against human rights abuses in Chile and the exclusion of poor women from the festivities, an all-star cast of prominent women intellectuals, activists, and political leaders from around the world paraded into the inaugural celebration at Juan de la...

  8. Afterwords

    • Itinerancy and Power
      (pp. 267-269)
      Bhavani Raman

      This volume of essays is a collective effort to write peripatetic histories. Its contributors attend to itinerancy rather than place, and journeys rather than destinations. The journey is the story and the trajectory of things, practices, and concepts; it is the very object of scholarly attention. The idea of motion in these essays is not dissimilar to Aristotle’s notion ofkinêsis. To Aristotle kinêsis was potentiality actualized. In his conception, potentiality was distinct from outcomes, something that he explained in theMetaphysicsas the difference between house building and the result, the house. Both house building and the finished object...

    • From Cultures to Cultural Practices and Back Again
      (pp. 270-278)
      Helmut Reimitz

      The author of this Afterword must confess at the outset: he is actually an Austrian.¹ The difference may seem trivial to others, but to most people who grew up in Vienna after World War II, as I did, the distinction became immensely important. The determination to set apart an Austrian identity and culture distinct from Germany can hardly be exaggerated. Like every schoolchild, I was given a properly “Austrian” dictionary, though we barely used it, and I cannot remember ever looking up a single word in it once I got a little older. It functioned less as a tool of...

  9. List of Papers
    (pp. 279-282)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 283-284)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 285-356)
  12. Index
    (pp. 357-372)