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Category: Essays & Scrambled Thoughts

#ASALH Tweets (Finally!) and Using Evernote like Storify

Ever so belatedly, I attempted to Storify tweets from the September ASALH panel with Treva Lindsey (@divafeminist), Tanisha Ford (@SoulistaPHD), and Regina Bradley (@redclayscholar).  I didn’t have much luck.  Even when I tried searching the panel hashtag (#FierceFour), Storify could only capture tweets as old as a month.

A Question for Historians Who Back it Up….

We are now deep in the era of digital research.  Zotero, Mendeley, Skim, Dropbox and a host of other tools are changing how we take notes, keep track of articles, annotate, and save and backup our research.  Many archives and libraries are digital camera-friendly, which is lovely, because with departments and programs increasingly strapped for resources, research trips are getting shorter and copies are becoming more expensive.

Mapping the 18th Century French Book Trade

“Europeans Purchasing a Slave Woman, late 18th cent.,” Guillaume Raynal, Histoire Philosophique et Politique . . . des Europeens dans les Deux Indes (Geneva, 1780), vol. 7, p. 377. (Copy at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University) Image Reference H005 as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

From The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe website:

Attending to the Dead

“And history is how the secular world attends to the dead.”
–Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother

I’ve finished one of the six books on my winter break reading list: Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. I received this book from A.K.F. to inspire me to finish my comprehensive exams. Since those are done (passed!) I am finally getting around to the books I want to read.

At first I was skeptical. Hartman also wrote Scenes of Subjection which I’d heard was a history of slavery and African-American roots tourism that emphasized rupture, dislocation, and anonymity over resistance, resilience, and return. I knew that Lose Your Mother was more speculative, more of a neo-slave narrative. I’d heard her read a chapter at an African diaspora conference at Duke University. But I don’t agree with the we-are-so-lost-and-have-lost-so-much construction of African diaspora history. So I’d–foolishly–never actually picked her book up.

Dispossession and the African Diaspora

Thoughts after reading Katherine McKittrick’s Demonic Grounds:

First, dispossession is crucial to creating African diasporas.

Dispossession refers to the sense of injustice, the sense that something has been taken: land, goods, labor, religion, art, natural resources, manufacturing, or people. Dispossession is not the same as dispersal, which is necessary to create the conditions of diaspora but alone does not naturally create a diaspora. [For more on elements of diaspora, Kim Butler has a very concise definition in an article entitled, “Defining Diaspora, Refining a Discourse” in a 2001 issue of Diaspora]. Something extra is needed to bring the dispersed population streams into conversation with each other. For the African diaspora, a discourse of dispossession has been central to the construction of a shared identity and politics–even when black populations don’t always agree on what that shared identity and politics means.

For the African diaspora, it is this discourse of dispossession that allows seemingly disparate populations in Canada, New York, Vera Cruz, Port-au-Prince, Bahia and Cartagena to speak to each other. As those conversations have changed over time it is this sense of dispossession that allows new conversations to begin. By following the discourse of dispossession as it waxes and wanes within and between African diaspora populations, scholars can begin to understand how linkages to the African diaspora are created and broken [Tiffany Ruby Patterson and Robin D. G. Kelley].