". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Africa Leads

The capacity to tell good stories and to create lovely things is part of survival. This, about the !Kung Kalahari desert people, from the NY Times Science section, in an interview with anthropologist Pauline Weissner, explains how it works. She also postulates that this capacity was what allowed humans to move out of Africa in the first place.

Africa's natural resources continue to be exploited by richer regions of the world, and thereby further impoverishing Africa's own environment and the people who have depended on them for millennia. Now it's the baobab tree, which almost all of us surely encountered for the first time in Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. His own planet was too small for the baobab to flourish ....

It's been the annual DanceAfrica dance festival here. The author tells us he's ignorant of the vast variety of African dances. Accordingly, he's also ignorant of the music, so his description doesn't help too much. Part of his criticism is that the festival didn't include dances from East Africa, Egypt and Morocco. The title of the festival, "Rhythmic Reflection: African Legacies Revealed," refers to the Atlantic slave trade into the New World. Thus groups from these regions weren't part of the slave diaspora to the New World. Maybe he should read Cuba and Its Music?

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