The Death of New York Punk

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The death of the New York Punk scene was inevitable.  Punk bands playing in clubs like CBGB could only last for so long before audiences got too violent and unreliable, throwing bottles at performers and worse (Kvaran, 103).  As the punk scene got more popular, more bands began to acquire commercial success, signing autographs and records deal.  When this happened, a new “class system” emerged within many bands, separating the performers from the crews and creating divides in many groups (104).  The essence of punk is anti-establishment and this didn’t fit well with commercial success.  When the sex pistols imploded after their one and only tour, it became apparent that punk bands were not a good investment for companies as they weren’t likely to last long.  The combination of growing conflict within the bands and less interest from those with money made it harder for bands to survive and for the clubs that hosted them to survive as well.  The interests of the public are always shifting and the appearance of boy bands shifted interest away from the punk scene as well.  All of these different variables combined to ultimately kill off the New York punk scene, although it did manage to take root in other cities, such as Los Angeles.

Sources:

Kvaran, Kara. “Gendered Underground: Men, Women, and American Punk Rock, 1965-1995.” Purdue University. August 2011.

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Let It Rock?: The Decline of Easy Access Concerts for SDSU Students and the Rise of Commercialized Elitism [Lens: Class]

 

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Figure 1: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

As we approach the 121st birthday of San Diego State University, tomorrow March 13th, 2018, it is essential to look back at the important aspects of American culture that has greatly influenced the campus culture.  One major theme that has been prominent throughout the last seventy years of the university, are the various concerts on campus for students, as well as the general public to enjoy.  Particularly, the 1960’s to 1980’s saw a tremendous amount of inexpensive, featuring big name and upcoming artists, on campus which increased students’ exposure to various counter culture and mainstream genres.  Unfortunately, this era of open concerts to students has come to an end and is overshadowed by the commercialization and elitism of mainstream concert producers and artists which exclude a vast majority of students from taking part in this important area of American culture.   I argue this major decline in inexpensive on campus concerts for students stems from the extreme commercialization and elitist culture within the music industry, as well as a lack of support from the University, which has a major negative deconstructive impact on the social and political development of SDSU students.

According to research conducted by Dr. Seth Mallios of the Anthropology department at SDSU and published in his book, Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State, he discovers a major downward trend in on campus live shows from 1970 (Mallios, 9).  In Figure 2 below, one can easily see the stark contrast from 1970 having 926 live shows on campus, to the current decade only having 114 is a major decline in easy access to musical events (Figure 2).

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Figure 2: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

The 1970’s witnesses an explosion in live popular music at SDSU, which hosted hundreds of acts in rock, jazz, blues, folk, reggae, and more.  Dr. Mallios asserts that SDSU, “Quickly became a premiere venue for many popular music genres and was the epicenter of Southern California’s soft-rock and country-rock movements, as well as hosting punk-rockers” (Mallios, 2).  Big name acts such as, The Ramones, Bob Marley, Tom Petty, Blondie, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and many more all performed on campus for inexpensive prices for students (Figure 3).

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Figure 3: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

Associated Students and various Greek organizations on campus insured that these concerts were inexpensive for students to promote the social atmosphere on campus.  However, these student-friendly concerts did more than just provide a fun social setting, but were also the centers of various counter culture protests/movements (Dowd, 11).  Many of these concerts during the 1960s and 1970s allowed students to congregate for various anti-war demonstrations, as well as meet other like-minded students to form student organizations, including the Aztec Free Speech Area (Mallios 5). Ticket prices in the 1970s for students for these major shows ranged from $2.00 to $5.00, which equates to $9.52 to $23.79 in 2018 dollars (CPI Government Inflation Calculator).  This allowed students back then a cheap way to experience new counter culture music, meet other students, and engage in an era of American Culture music that was extremely influential.  Many members of the community often fought the students-first mentality, especially for the more popular concerts, but during this decade Associated Students and the University held strong to this belief and continued to ensure students came first by pricing tickets fairly for students (Figure 5, 6, 7, 8).  In Figure 4, Mallios states the University ground rules for max tickets per members of the general public as well as ensuring the students had a plentiful amount of tickets to purchase (Figure 4).

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Figure 4: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

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Figure 5: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

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Figure 6: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

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Figure 7: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

 

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Figure 8: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

Music is a very powerful medium and is an essential part of American Culture, therefore it should be available to the student population and those trying to find their place in society (Dowd, 31).  At the level of the social group music facilitates communication which goes beyond words, enables meanings to be shared, and promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural and national identities (Brant, 24).  Clearly, these earlier decades were a time of important socialization and counter culture movements for students who were given the opportunity to engage with these concerts, however this is simply not true for today’s Aztecs.  Within the past decade, SDSU students have been subjugated to an overall decline in concerts, price gouging by ticket companies, and a growing class divide between elitist culture in regards to the music industry.  First off, SDSU has not done its part to book lower to middle tier musicians for cheap musical performances for students at smaller campus venues.  In the past these were escapes for students to unwind and engage in new subcultures of lesser know musical genres, however the University has ceased booking these acts as they are not major money makers (Mallios, 310).

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Figure 9: Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015.

The 2000’s have been dominated by headline acts at Viejas Arena, which can seat over 12,000 people, without giving special pricing for SDSU students.  I believe this negatively affects students who are left without a crucial piece of American Culture and are forced out of these now “exclusive” events which were once open to all.  Individuals and companies now engage in ticket scalping (when single buyers buy up dozens of tickets and immediately sell them off at rates too expensive for most), again perpetuating this class division (Leavitt, 129).  This commercialization of concerts has led to businesses coming in to make extreme profits off the music industry leading to elitist culture.  For example, almost all shows on campus now have VIP access tickets which allow those with money to enjoy special perks, and even basic access tickets are inflated in price due to the emphasis on profit.  In the earlier decades, money was still exchanged and artists were paid, but now these events are less about counter culture and music, but rather how much companies can make off the individuals.  Any show at Viejas Arena will showcase many vendors selling overpriced merchandise, refreshments, and VIP experiences.  It has turned into a major business venture for these concert companies, the University, and the artists, which unfortunately has excluded SDSU students.  Currently, SDSU students only have one subsidized concert on campus, Greenfest, which sells $15 tickets to SDSU students for a fairly popular artist.  However, these concerts are few and far between and still center on commercialization rather than enjoyment of true American Culture.  Based off the analysis from Dr. Mallios it is clear the the kind of acts at SDSU have changed, going from various counter culture movements to commercialized mainstream acts, as well as a decline in the amount of acts (Mallios 7).  This increases revenue for the University, but greatly limits exposure to new types of music and excludes these performances from students who cannot afford the inflated prices.

Overall, SDSU was once a thriving hub for artists of varying levels of fame, a variety of genres, and always put students first in regards to ticket sales and concert experiences (Mallios 11).  This has drastically changed for the worse, as the commercialized nature of music has limited the majority of on campus concerts to mainstream massive concerts, with no protections for students.  Price gouging and elitist culture has limited the important aspects of music in American Culture for current SDSU students and stunted their chance to be individuals within the music culture. Therefore, if students are to once again receive a constructive aspect of American Culture, the University needs to take a stand against the recent phenomenon of commercialization in music, in order to allow SDSU students importance social experiences within the concert scene.

Works Cited:

Brant, Marley. Join together: Forty years of the rock music festival. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2008.

“CPI Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=4&year1=197001&year2=201801.

Dowd, Timothy J., Kathleen Liddle, and Jenna Nelson. “Music Festivals as scenes: examples from serious music, women’s music, and skatepunk.” Music scenes: Local, translocal and virtual (2004): 149-67.

Leavitt, Alex, Tara Knight, and Alex Yoshiba. “Producing Hatsune Miku: Concerts, Commercialization, and the Politics of Peer Production.” Media Convergence in Japan (2016): 200-29.

Mallios, Seth, and Jaime Lennox. Let it Rock!: Live from San Diego State. Seth Malios, 2015. [Primary Source]

Working Hard to be Pretty

The popular perspective of women in America has changed over the years.  When first examining the book, Womanly Beauty of Form and Feature, published in 1901, its contents initially appear amusing.  Flipping through the pages to find diagrams of proper posture, exercise techniques, and comments on the importance of a healthy complexion, in a book targeted for women, but juxtaposed by a male author, Albert Turner, it seems contradictory.  Continuing through the pages, pictures illustrating the proper ways to show emotion and the use of massagers to mold the female body into the preferred shape invokes a different reaction from a more modern audience. Considering this book as a twenty-first century American women it seems a little ridiculous, however, its contents did not seem to be distasteful at the time of publication, one should examine the context in which it was originally circulated and the popular culture of the time, in the specific relation of gender.  Through examining a secondary source, Karen Sternheimer’s textbook, Celebrity Culture and the American Dream, the early twentieth century can be seen as a time period where a woman’s success, both in the home and the workplace, was seen as dependent on her outwardly beauty.

At the turn of the century, people were living in poverty.  Sternheimer cites that in 1910, “more than a third of workers were considered unskilled, and over half the population aged over 10 worked for wages”, “genuine opportunities did not exist for modest levels of upward mobility” (28, 27).  At a time when “food scarcity was a serious concern”, “rising beyond substance” and joining the middle class became the American dream (Sternheimer 29, 27). Popularly known as the Horatio Alger myth or the Protestant Work Ethic, everyday Americans believed that if they worked hard success and upward economic mobility could be achieved.  For women, it appears this hard work materialized in their beauty.

As Sternheimer describes the era, it appears that a woman’s success in the home was dependent on her appearance.  “Hard times demanded that women be vigilant in scrutinizing their looks, failure to do so could lead to unemployment, or worse yet, perpetual maidenhood.” (Sternheimer 96).  The suffrage movement of the turn of the century did improve women’s rights, but “for women, marriage had been the clearest path to social mobility” and “advertisers’ approach to marketing personal hygiene products became subtle, playing on anxieties about remaining married and employed” (Sternheimer 107, 96 CC).  This trend alludes to the dynamic of the atmosphere. A book like Turner’s Womanly Beauty of Form and Feature fitted into the current concerns of society and gave women a tangible course of action to attract a husband in a time when marriage equated to stability.

Turner claims that not only would a favorable wife perform traditional house chores, but that they would do it in a proper and appealing way.  Through diagrams, he depicts the appropriate poster required to sweep, bend, and stand in comparison to an unappealing or inappropriate form as seen in the pictures depicted below (Turner 61, 66-67, 70-71).  Through these depictions he not only regulates the female body, but her actions, establishing a norm that the female gender is not only associated with housework, but that to retain a husband they must do so in an attractive manner. 

Proper Posture (Turner 61, 66-67, 70-71)

The relevance of a woman’s complexion in referenced by both Sternheimer and Turner.  While Sternheimer connects its significance to coloring, in a time period where clear, pale skin equated to middle-class standing, Turner focuses on cleanliness and a lack of pimples (Sternheimer 48).  He outlines specific food to avoid, argues for a simple diet, and emphasizes the importance of a regular washing (Turner 157-160).  These specific arguments are still generally accepted today, but when paired with other arguments in the book they act to reaffirm the already popular idea of the time, that a woman must work to maintain her physical appearance in order to earn the attention of a man.  Sternheimer references a specific soap ad offering their product for as a solution for a “lady in danger . . . of losing her man” to “avoid offending” possible suitors by keeping her skin “alluringly smooth [and] radiantly clear” (97). Ads like these were specifically targeted at women’s insecurities and reinforce the idea that she must put work into her appearance to be desirable.

Complexion (Turner 157-160)

Sternheimer also outlines that a women’s success in the workforce was dependent on her outward beauty.  She cites that “women’s participation in the paid labor force more than doubled between 1890 and 1910” (Sternheimer 40).  Women become increasingly involved in the film industry, both on the screen and behind the scenes (Sternheimer 40-41).  With this new found independence came certain drawbacks.  While no longer entirely dependent on her marriage for success, obtaining a career still came with challenges for women to face. Turner’s book acts as a framework for what is expected of women to succeed in the workforce.

As Sternheimer explains, “during times of want, the focus on weight loss typically takes a back seat to maintaining strength”, but the 1920’s was a time of prosperity and being thin was associated with “self-control” (71, 73).  Turner dedicates an entire chapter of his book titled “Exercise–Who Needs it. The Benefits–How to Take it” to the types of women he believes should be working out and the health benefits he believes to be associated with the action (Turner 171-181).  While this does show the increased possibility for women in the workforce, it also exhibits the increased expectations placed on them by society.  She might have been a “teacher”, “lawyer”, “business women”, or “clerk”, but nonetheless if she wanted to maintain her success she needed to maintain her weight (Turner 171-173).

Exercise (Turner 171-173)

Sternheimer cites that “suffragettes also perceived corsets as patriarchal prisons, but once removed they needed to regulate their own bodies” (71).  This may be what leads to the popularity of the massagers as Turner depicts in his book. They were believed to help tone the female body. She would roll them over her skin and the repeated action was considered to tighten and mold the surface to the desired shape.  The effectiveness of this product may be questioned, but ultimately this industry profited from the trend. Different rollers had to be purchased for different parts of the body. These rollers were to be applied to their face, chin, breast, and elsewhere. They might have been wearing less restrictive clothing, but they were still expected to maintain their figure and tightness associated with the discontinued clothing trend.  Their physical increase in mobility had negative repercussions for beauty standards.

Massagers (Turner 113, 115, 117, 129)

Ultimately, from a twenty-first-century perspective this book seems outdated and unethical, but when taking a deeper look at the culture of today, these trends have not been entirely replaced.  While there has been a recognizable change, to some extent, the trends and standards Turner emphasizes do continue to affect popular culture. Comparatively, females are expected to put more work into their appearance than their male counterparts and today’s most prominent and successful women are seen as put together and beautiful.  Before dismissing Turner’s claims as ridiculous our own society needs to be examined, consider that some may still linger today.

 

Sources

Sternheimer, Karen. Celebrity Culture and the American Dream. Routledge, 2011

Turner, Albert. Womanly Beauty of Form and Feature. Health Culture Company, 1901

 

Cannabis to Marijuana: The History Behind “Reefer Madness”

Before the countercultural revolution in the 1960’s and the relative normalization of drug use among several subculture groups, many drugs, especially marijuana, were demonized and racialized in American media for various reasons. Harmful racial stereotypes were purposefully utilized to scare average citizens out of drug use, as well as to maintain certain companies’ profits. In this essay, I am going to examine the techniques that corporations such as DuPont employed to ruin the reputation of hemp products in order to monopolize their market. I will analyze several posters from the collection of artifacts in the book Altered States: The Library of Julio Santo Domingo, by Peter Watts and Yolanda Cuomo, through the lens of a thesis paper titled Narcotics, national security, and social control policy in the United States, by Jefferey Edwin Roth. I will also use lecture notes from a women’s studies class I was enrolled in last year, taught by Dr. Shogofa Abassi. I argue that these corporations purposefully slandered cannabis and recklessly played upon the xenophobic sentiments of the time to preserve their monopolies, without regard for the social harm they created as a result.

First, before the discussion of marijuana itself, it is important to understand the ideology leading up to “reefer madness.” During prohibition and the progressive era, between the 1910’s and 1930’s, drug and alcohol use were generally denounced by society, and there were many different legislative measures passed to try to combat the growing prevalence of narcotic use. Propaganda posters were used to scare people away from opium and cocaine, especially. The ones I specifically remember that were shown during lecture in my women’s studies class I could not find on the internet, but I discovered similar posters, as shown below. When advocating against opium, these posters grossly depicted Asian men luring white women into their opium dens. These posters were produced after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and around the time of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, so the American public was generally fearful of Asian immigrants and railroad workers seducing their women. For cocaine propaganda, African American men were depicted as enraged, hulk-like figures impervious to bullets, this time stealing white women off the streets to presumably rape or otherwise assault them. The overall message of these posters was to avoid these drugs in order to protect “our” women, and subsequently protect against the perversion of an otherwise decent society. Propaganda posters also took advantage of the general racism that was accepted in this age, especially during the World Wars. Although opium and cocaine were used in many common products, recreational narcotic use was viewed very negatively and was associated with the “undesirables” of society.

 

Marijuana received similar backlash among the general American population. However, the association of cannabis with Mexican deviants and the overall image of marijuana as a dangerous drug was carefully constructed by a small group of people. Before the “reefer madness” craze, hemp was approved by the USDA in October of 1916 as a viable replacement of wood pulp in paper production (Roth 27). By reducing the use of timber to make paper, it was predicted that the price of wood pulp paper would become considerably inflated, which would lead to a decline in sales. Famous yellow journalist William Randal Hearst owned a significant portion of the timber industry, which created an effective monopoly over his newspaper industry. In a similar position, E.I. DuPont was also a giant producer of paper, and was transitioning into the chemical industry during the 1920’s. As it turned out, hemp was not only an effective paper substitute, but it could also be used to make plastics, such as nylon. The combination of xenophobia with significant business competition compelled these men to fight against the mainstream introduction of industrial hemp.

Essentially, these two men, along with Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, launched a campaign against the hemp plant to remove their competition. Although Anslinger did not have any financial reason to contest hemp, he fought against it merely to ban cannabis for recreational use. They managed to make this case by claiming cannabis had serious negative effects on the people who used it. Anslinger also re-branded it as ‘marijuana’ simply because it sounded more like an “evil Mexican drug,” regardless of where it might have actually came from. He testified in court during his campaign to ban industrial hemp, claiming it should be banned because it had a “violent effect on the degenerate races,” referring specifically to Mexican immigrants. “The commissioner presented bloody photographs of murders committed by reportedly deranged marijuana users, and told tales of young people driven to robbery, insanity, and to murder family members” (35). Despite protests from the American Medical Association and the lack of scientific evidence to prove these so-called violent effects, the Uniform Narcotics Drug Act was passed in 1934 to prohibit industrial hemp from becoming a competing industry of paper and cotton, as well as newly discovered plastics (24).

The banning of industrial hemp allowed DuPont to patent his nylon formula, as well as to maintain his and Hearst’s monopolies over the timber industry. “All of DuPont’s synthetic materials and paper would have faced significant competition from decentralized farming and milling communities manufacturing hemp products. Industries adopted artificial patentable materials for their production cycle and hoped to prevent the competition from utilizing natural products” (33-34). This was extremely problematic for several reasons. First, it was done merely out of personal reasons, primarily to maintain the financial success of the timber and plastics industries. Second, and more importantly, it created a distorted reputation of cannabis as a dangerous, Mexican drug. The xenophobic American public were already fearful of immigrants as a general group, and Anslinger especially played upon these fears by connecting hemp with unacceptable deviant behavior. By re-branding marijuana, he began the national “reefer madness” craze. People were genuinely terrified of the effects that even a single “marijuana cigarette” could have on someone, especially someone supposedly predisposed to becoming violent when exposed to the drug. Anti-marijuana campaigns targeted traditional, white American families. The posters below were found in the book Altered States: The Library of Julio Santo Domingo, which inspired my further research into the history of marijuana for this essay. Like the opium and cocaine propaganda posters, ‘marihuana’ was supposed to induce sexual frenzies and other unthinkable horrors on unsuspecting white women who dared to try the drug. It would corrupt the youth and certainly ruin a wholesome, happy family.

Although cannabis is viewed as one of the less dangerous drugs we experience today, it was once seen as an extreme threat to society. The extent of the madness could have been avoided if it weren’t for the pressure to ban the drug by a relatively small group of people that would profit by excluding hemp from the market. After all was said and done, the damage done by the corporations who sought to make cannabis illegal carried far greater social significance than merely getting a “dangerous” drug off the streets.

Primary References:

Watts, Peter, and Yolanda Cuomo. Altered States: the Library of Julio Santo Domingo. Anthology Editions, LLC, 2017.

Secondary References:

Roth, Jeffery Edwin. Narcotics, national security, and social control policy in the United States. Stephen F. Austin State University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1996.

Abassi, Shogofa. Women’s Studies 102 section 6. Race, Class, and Gender. Lecture, 27 September 2017.

All Culture is Relative

Group 2: The author discusses the inaccuracy of the accounts of travelers about the culture in which they are a visitor. What examples of this have you encountered with your culture or identities? What do you think this says about culture in general?

This question reminds me of when I used to play competitive travel softball. I played on several different teams over the six years I played competitively. These teams were generally on the better side of average, and we won a fair amount of tournaments over the years. We even made it to nationals a few times. As I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, it made sense that the majority of the tournaments I played in were also in or around this area. We almost always had a winning record for tournaments in Northern California. Although I never really played in Southern California, my younger sister was on a more competitive team that would often travel down there because the teams were better. I pretty much can say for a fact that if one of my teams had played against any of my sister’s, we would have lost. On the other hand, I distinctly remember one tournament in which we played against an Australian team at a field only twenty minutes from my house. We obliterated them; the score was almost 20-0 by the time the umpire called run rule. The rest of the teams weren’t much better, and we ended up winning the tournament. The moral of this story is that how you experience other cultures is all dependent on your own experiences, especially with your own culture. For example, the Australian girls must have thought we were the best team they have ever seen, whereas the SoCal teams wouldn’t have even given us a chance to win. I think this is true about culture in general; how you see a different culture all depends on where you come from. This was why there were so many conflicting opinions about quadroon balls – everyone had different backgrounds and values and ideas of right and wrong. As the author of Enchanted Evening pointed out, “there remain numerous qualifications that distinguish the perception of a local or native from how a visitor understands the same event.” (30) Of course, this passage is in reference to the moral ambiguity of quadroon balls. A local might find them absolutely appalling, whereas a visitor might be intrigued and entertained by the balls; or vice versa. It all depends on an individual’s background.

The Importance of Hiding in Plain View

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Group 1: In “Hidden in View”, the authors describe the gardens of the enslaved as “hidden in plain view”.  How was it “hidden”?  What were the reasons for keeping these things “hidden”?  Do you think the slave owners may have suspected this hidden activity?

I strongly agree with the authors assertions that these gardens were “hidden in plain view” from the slave owners as they were expertly cultivated to grow produce for sale and cash right on the landowner’s property.  These gardens provided a sense of restored humanity to their extremely difficult lives as slaves, because they were now able to grow items of value in order to sell for a steady income.  The authors expertly state, “This activity became a lesson in humanity – that people who were enslaved were not objects, but humans who struggled in life to build families, wealth, and safety” (330).  These gardens were “hidden” as they were close to the slave quarters and merely looked like individuals trying to grow more food.  These gardens provided not only income, but spirituality assistance too, as many of them were inscribed with African transcripts, which “spoke of pleasures, choices, and desires not dependent upon the benevolence of the master’s or owner’s notions of innate inferiority and perpetual dependence” (331).  This was crucial to the well-being of the slaves as they were able to improve their lives physically and emotionally due to these important gardens.

It was essential to keep these gardens “hidden” from the owners’ as they would not immediately stop slaves from attempting to own property or getting an income.  These gardens clearly challenged the notion of slavery and individuals enslaved wanted to keep this autonomy over the garden without alerting the landowner.  One reason for keeping these gardens hidden, is the clear danger of physical retaliation from slave owners.  Many slave owners were brutal and vicious people that would inflict extreme physical punishment on anything deemed improper behavior.  Obviously, if owners heard about slaves living off their land and starting better lives for themselves, it would certainly bring dire consequences.  Another reason to keep these gardens hidden, is because if these gardens were discovered it would bring about severe economic losses to the owners of the “hidden” gardens.  This would limit the slaves’ ability to purchase goods/services and abruptly end what little freedom they had when cultivating their gardens.  Lastly,  the spiritual and emotional benefit from these gardens would be crushed if they were discovered.  Destroying all the hard work to start a garden with such spiritual importance would crush the morale of the gardeners, who are already in a horrible life situation.

Overall, I do not think the owners suspected these “hidden” gardens because they clearly underestimated the determination and intelligence of these individuals.  Slaves would work in the gardens at night to cover their movement and remain undetected by the owners.  They clearly outsmarted the owners who assumed they had complete control over the physical and mental state of the slaves.

 

 

Religious integration in Hoodoo

 

 

Group 2: According to the essay “hidden in view,” Hoodoo is a spiritual practice which combines African ethnic beliefs with elements of Christianity and Islam. What do you think are the causes of this religious syncretism? How do you think Christians and Muslims reacted to people that practiced Hoodoo?

I think that the causes of this religious integration found in Hoodoo is originally attributed to the diversity of beliefs within Africa. Not only does religious culture differ between African tribes, of which there are hundreds, but there is also a mixture of other cultures from the countries that colonized the majority of Africa. Colonialism is the reason that there was Christianity in Africa before and during slavery in America. Also, a number of northern African countries have Islamic populations, which also contributes to the origins of Hoodoo. As for the African American beliefs cited in the paper “Hidden in View: African Spiritual Spaces,” there is also Christianity forced on slaves by their owners or masters. These beliefs are then added to the practices and rituals that were already being practiced in hidden spiritual spaces. As enslaved African Americans were emancipated and spread across the country, they maintained their spiritual beliefs, and thus Hoodoo was spread with them (326). Hoodoo was mostly concentrated in the South, and despite the many variations became a fairly homogenized practice.

As for Christians and Muslims who encountered Hoodoo, it is hard to say how they might have reacted. I believe that their ignorance on the spiritual meanings to the people who made altars and kept artifacts might have confused or frightened them, because Hoodoo was very much considered exotic and “othered” compared to the Antebellum South. Not only that, but it was associated with slaves, which probably caused people outside of slave culture to look down on it.