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Week 7 Olwig article notes


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTB20H3
Professor
Girish Daswani

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Week 7 – Olwig – The Burden of Heritage: Claiming a Place for a West Indian Culture
370
-Historical sites are places where different sorts of historically legitmated authenticities are
represented and not simply repositories of objects architecture or landscapes from the past
-The anthropological redefinition of the past as a “negotiable good” to be invoked in the
establishment of specific identities and related authority structures might seem to lead to
the conclusion that the past is a freely available resource available to everyone in support
of any heritage claim
-I suggest that the past is not a free resource its negotiation taking place within specific
historical contexts characterized by particular sytems of power and authority that deem
nly certain forms of heritage credible
-The specificity of heritage has to do with the exclusionary practices that form the
backbone of heritage politics
Notions of the African Caribbean Past – 371
-Segal argues ppl of African descent were accepted as members of society only if they
assumed the respectability of white culture to mask their blackness; they were ineffect
dispossessed of a past as definied by the colonial society except through their white
masters
-Wilk has argued that in order to win any wider recognition local cultural identities must
be expressed within global structures of common difference which celebrate particular
kinds of diversity while submergining deflating or suppressing others
-Today these structures of common difference are primarily those that conform to the
dominant fields of discourse associated with contemporary heritage and identity politics
Claiming a past and a place – 372
-The colonization of St.John led to the elimination of the islands native Caribbean
population and the transformation of st john into a plantation society producing sugar and
cotton using the labour power of slaves improted from Africa
-In the 60s st. John and other united states virgin islands has seen the development of a
tourist industry that has offered considerable wage employment, the tourist industry has
attracted a large outside work force to the island from other west Indian islands and the
united states
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-The islands in recent decades have enjoyed an increasing measure of political influence in
the form of an elected governor a local legislature and nonvoting member of the united
states house of representatives
373-The significance of the slave uprising can also be related to the fact that it highlights the
importance of the islanders' African backgrounds and their long history of asserting their rights
as a people. It can therefore be inscribed within a Western diasporic tradition, familiar in the
United States, of demarcating a separateethnic group by establishing itscultural links to adistant
homeland.
Culture and Heritage in Anthropological Analysis -374
-The desire for a unique heritage is increasingly influential in shaping the ways in which
the past is interpreted and represented around the world. And increasingly, globalization
means that dominant social groups in newly independent countries, in particular, are
developing and asserting national identities
-The sense of the past generated and sustained in the everyday life of an intimate, familiar
environment is rather different from that created and staged for a larger public in the form
of master narratives accounting for distant, collective origins, staged traditions valorizing
certain ideologies, or historical sites representing specific authenticities and identities. –
-Further, intimate constructions of the past may be overtaken by more public constructions
because the local (more private) discourses are grounded in communities that do not
conform to the structures of common difference that define the parameters of (public)
cultural heritage. The very existence of such communities and their cultural identity may
thereby be denied publicly
Cultural Loss and Preservation-
-In 1994, 1 was invited to carry out an oral history project on St. John, in collaboration
with the newly formed St. John Oral History Association. This oral history project was
initiated and funded by the Virgin Islands Humanities Council. Part of the U.S. National
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), this council receives funding from the NEH
Division of State Programs (Federation of State Humanities Councils n.d.) in order to
"promote the development of source materials on Virgin Islands history and cultural
heritage" (Virgin Islands Humanities Council n.d.1, among other things.
-The Virgin Islands Humanities Council had long been interested in supporting a project
on St. John, and a group of local people was organized as The St. John Oral History
Association to host this project. The project began at a point when the tourist industry had
grown steadily for the previous 40 years, primarily through developments initiated and
owned by North American investors and operated with the help of imported West Indian
labor power
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