Zvi Gitelman (9)
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4 The Holocaust

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

By 1939 the purges seemed to be winding down. The dreaded Ezhov had been replaced by Lavrentii Beria as head of the secret police, and that institution was purged once again. Mass arrests waned as the country was completely subjugated. But the respite was an illusion, and new dangers appeared from without. The Soviet Union had attempted to mobilize a united front against fascism with the capitalist democracies of Western Europe since they shared a common fear of Nazi Germany and her allies. In August 1939 Stalin stunned his own people, as well as the antifascist front, by signing a nonaggression pact with Hitler’s Germany. He had dismissed his Jewish foreign minister, Maxim Litvinov, in order not to offend Nazi sensibilities. Whether the pact was designed simply to buy time to prepare for a likely German attack on the USSR (as most Soviet historians would have it) or whether it was Stalin’s attempt to divert Hitler’s aggression toward Western Europe (as Western historians see it), the agreement was not taken seriously by either party; but a series of secret agreements accompanying it were to have far greater consequences. Those agreements provided that the Baltic republics—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—would come under Soviet influence, that eastern Poland would be annexed by the Soviet Union, and that the same would happen to Romanian-controlled Bessarabia. On September 17, 1939, at five o’clock in the morning, Soviet troops crossed the Polish frontier on the pretext that they were needed to protect “our brother Ukrainians and brother Belorussians who live in Poland.” Having been invaded by Germany on September 1, Poland was now caught between her two more powerful neighbors, as so often in her history, and her resistance was soon crushed. The Soviet Union now controlled an additional population of nearly thirteen million people, including about a million Jews.

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1 Creativity versus Repression: The Jews in Russia, 1881–1917

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

Early Sunday afternoon, March 1, 1881, Tsar Alexander II left his palace in St. Petersburg to review the maneuvers of a guards battalion. He was known as the “Tsar Liberator” because he had emancipated millions of serfs, reformed the legal and administrative systems, eased the burdens of military service, and allowed more intellectual freedom. Nevertheless the revolutionaries of the Narodnaia Volia (People’s Will) organization described him as the “embodiment of despotism, hypocritical, cowardly, bloodthirsty and all-corrupting. . . . The main usurper of the people’s sovereignty, the middle pillar of reaction, the chief perpetrator of judicial murders.” As long as he did not turn his power over to a freely elected constituent assembly, they pledged to conduct “war, implacable war to the last drop of our blood” against the sovereign and the system he headed.

Well aware of the danger to his life, the tsar usually varied his travel routes. On this cloudy day, as his carriage turned onto a quay along the Neva River, a young man in a fur cap suddenly loomed up in front of the royal entourage and threw what looked like a snowball between the horse’s legs. The bomb exploded but wounded the tsar only slightly. His Imperial Highness got out to express his solicitude for a Cossack and a butcher’s delivery boy who had been severely wounded. Turning back to his carriage, he saw a man with a parcel in his hand make a sudden movement toward him. The ensuing explosion wounded both the tsar and his assailant. Rushed to the Winter Palace, the tsar died within an hour. His assailant died that evening without revealing either his name or those of his Narodnaia Volia co-conspirators. But the man who threw the first bomb, a recent recruit to the revolutionary ranks, informed on his comrades to the police interrogators. The sole Jew among those comrades was Gesia Gelfman, a young woman who had run away from her traditional home to avoid a marriage her parents had arranged for her when she was sixteen. She was found guilty of conspiracy to murder the tsar, as were another woman and four men. All were sentenced to hang. Because Gelfman was pregnant, her sentence was commuted to life at hard labor. She died a few months after giving birth, possibly because of deliberate malpractice, and her infant died at about the same time.

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2 Revolution and the Ambiguities of Liberation

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

On March 8, 1917, almost exactly thirty-six years after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, some women standing in line to buy bread in Petrograd (the name had been changed during the war from the German-sounding St. Petersburg) became increasingly exasperated. Their mutterings soon became shouts of “Give us some bread!” and these were followed by more audacious shouts of “Down with autocracy!” and “End the imperialist war!” There had been such demonstrations before, just as there had been lockouts of workers at some of the main plants and factories of the capital. Though this time workers joined the women in their shouts of frustration, the British ambassador cabled his government that “Some disorders occurred today, but nothing serious.” The Council of Ministers of Tsar Nicholas II, meeting the following day, did not bother to discuss the demonstrations, and the tsarina cabled her husband at his military headquarters that “this is a hooligan movement. . . . but all this will pass.”

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7 The Other Jews of the Former USSR: Georgian, Central Asian, and Mountain Jews

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

Non-European Jews constituted less than 10 percent of the total Jewish population of the Soviet Union. Their history has been different from that of their European co-religionists, as their territories came under Russian rule only in modern times, and even in the Soviet period they maintained differences in family structure, religious tradition, language, culture, and social structure. While each of the major non-Ashkenazic (non-European) communities—Georgian, Central Asian (“Bukharan”), and Mountain Jews—has a distinct culture and history, they have some common features that set them off from the Ashkenazim. Through the twentieth century they maintained patriarchal families, especially in rural areas and smaller towns. The head of the family, usually an older man, made many decisions for all the rest, or at least was consulted about them. The families were both larger and more extended than European ones. Cousins several times removed would know each other, and in Central Asia they were likely to live near each other, even within the same group of connected houses surrounding a courtyard. These patterns and many others were shared with the non-Jewish populations among whom these communities lived for centuries. Tradition and custom were highly respected, as they were in the Georgian Christian and Central Asian Muslim communities. The kind of collective revolts against tradition represented by the Haskalah, the socialist movements, and the enthusiasm for building Communism that have been observed among European Jews never appeared in the non-Ashkenazic communities. The one modern movement that did enjoy great popularity was Zionism, especially among the Georgian and Mountain Jews. This exception is explained by the fact that it fit into the religious tradition of praying for a return to Zion, which was always taken seriously by these communities. In the nineteenth century, both independently of the modern Zionist movement and as part of it, Jews from these areas emigrated to the Holy Land, usually settling in Jerusalem but in some cases founding new agricultural settlements such as Beer Yaakov, established by Mountain Jews.

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8 The Post-Soviet Era: Winding Down or Starting Up Again?

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

What began as a courageous and seemingly far-sighted attempt to modernize and democratize the Soviet system ended in its destruction. Mikhail Gorbachev intended to re-construct a system whose foundations he believed to be sound but whose superstructure was inefficient, unproductive, and alienating. But the process of reconstruction revealed that the foundations were rotten and that there was far less general support for the Soviet state and its political and economic systems than most analysts within and outside the country had believed. In the short run, at least, Gorbachev’s attempts to modify the economic system were producing inflation and unemployment, phenomena unknown in the USSR. His political reforms allowed free expression of opinion and the political mobilization of the hitherto disenfranchised and even suppressed, but they also gave freedom of expression to those who opposed his reforms and believed that the USSR’s ills could be remedied by moving back toward authoritarian controls.

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Zuzanna Olszewska (6)
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3 Afghan Literary Organizations in Postrevolutionary Iran

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

THE ARENA OF DEATH

Hark! Now is not the time for hesitation, tie up your bundle [and go]

Our patience with the foe runs short, tie up your bundle [and go]

If the foot drags, still you must go

Though your end be at the gallows, still you must go

From the depths of the incident [the battlefield] the smell of battle reaches us

See, the yells of manly [heroic] men reach us

Hark! Set your foot in the arena of death and [be prepared to] die

Come! Now is not the time for hesitation, stand up straight and die

[The foe] thinks each of your numerous wounds a scourge

[The foe] thinks the fury of your blood a river

Since the reins of Rakhsh the danger seeker are in your hands

Your defeat is the defeat of this [whole] tribe’s fortress

Hark! The crimson of the dawn sun belongs to us

And the foremost banner of the jihad belongs to us

Tell the enemy that we have no concern for death

“He who is not killed is not of our tribe.”

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4 The Social Lives of Poets and Poetry

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

It is a Friday early afternoon at Dorr-e Dari, between the weekly poetry reading and criticism session held in the morning, and the afternoon short-story writing class. Some of the poets are still around, catching up with friends, sipping fragrant black tea, rereading their latest poems for any latecomers, and asking for their friends’ informal feedback. More experienced poets give beginners useful tips on how to improve. A female poet and chess champion challenges a male short-story writer to a game of chess in a corner (see fig. 4.1); others head to a nearby park for a round of badminton. A heated debate has emerged in the kitchen, where the smokers have gathered, over whether a poem read in the morning was too provocative in its feminism or not. A group of university students uses one of the back rooms to discuss the upcoming issue of their magazine. The office contains a substantial literary library, and poets can borrow books to brush up on their knowledge of the classics.

There is also a steady stream of visitors. People who have repatriated to Afghanistan but are back in Iran for business or family visits drop by to see old friends and to exchange news and blog addresses. Some bring the latest newspapers or magazines from Afghanistan; many are now involved in media, politics, or education in their homeland. A recent Afghan graduate from an Iranian university comes by to share her good news and distribute pastries to those present. Meanwhile, Mozaffari, after giving a radio interview by telephone, leans back into his office chair and hums a traditional dobeiti (folk quatrain) from his birthplace in the Hazarajat.

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1 Border Crossings and Fractured Selves: A History of the Afghan Presence in Iran

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

A History of the Afghan Presence in Iran

GOLSHAHR

It doesn’t matter

on which side the sun came up,

on which side the moon went down.

In your alleys, sorrow.

In your alleys, beauty.

In your alleys, the sound of the handcart men

who cry out the freshness of their wares;

the footsteps that startle

the always-mute walls out of sleep;

the eyes that turn my dark midnights

into delirious muttering.

In your alleys

is a fluttering of wings that comes from distant mountains.

I begin from your farthest walls,

a place where even my friends don’t come anymore,

with my old briefcase in my hand,

like a shepherd whose sheep have all been torn apart by wolves,

like a commander to whom no letter is posted.

Longing for the wild winds of the Pamirs,

the song of a dobeiti in the mountains;

longing for the fresh fish of Helmand,

and soldiers invalided by war,

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2 The Melancholy Modern: The Rise of a Refugee Intelligentsia

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

The Rise of a Refugee Intelligentsia

A few years ago, I happened to sit next to a lady on a bus who introduced herself as a master’s student in law. That day, our words about the limited number of bus seats reserved for women compared to men1 led to a discussion of women’s rights, and we spoke a lot about the difference between women’s and men’s blood money (diyeh) and inheritance, custody rights, the equality of men’s and women’s rights, and so on. We had a lively exchange. As she was getting off, she said something that has bothered me all these years. She said, “I hadn’t thought an Afghan woman would even understand what rights are, let alone look at her rights from a religious point of view while being an intellectual (rowshanfekr) at the same time.” That Iranian woman’s words struck me as strange, but they forced me to think a little about what she had said, especially because in these years I have witnessed many changes in the thought and behavior of my compatriot women in exile.

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5 Modern Love: Poetry, Companionate Marriage, and Recrafting the Self

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

Poetry, Companionate Marriage, and Recrafting the Self

I hadn’t spent any time with Zarifeh and Sorayya away from the office until my visit to Zarifeh’s house. Her room was actually a small, one-room concrete structure built in the corner of her family’s courtyard (I later learned that many people build these to rent out for the extra income). Zarifeh’s mother wanted to rent it out, but for now it was her personal haven in which to read, study, and entertain her friends: a room of her own, whose vital importance for women’s ability to write Virginia Woolf once emphasized. We sat on the carpet while Zarifeh served us tea, homemade cakes, ājil (dried fruit and nuts), and candy. I flipped through the photo album she showed me—mostly pictures of various trips and outings to places outside Mashhad with the Dorr-e Dari kids, both young men and women—waterfalls, villages, woods, picnics, badminton games. Quite a few pictures were of fully clothed people standing knee-deep in water flowing by them.

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Zuccotti Susan (12)
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8 - Early Rescue in Rome, September and October 1943

Zuccotti, Susan Indiana University Press ePub

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 1943

ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 13, 1943, PÈRE MARIE-BENOÎT, OR Padre Maria Benedetto as he was now known in Italy, met his friend Lionello Alatri, an important figure in the Jewish community of Rome. Whether the meeting was by chance or by appointment is not known. Alatri informed the priest that a train carrying well over one hundred Jewish refugees, formerly in supervised residence in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in Italian-occupied France, had just arrived in the Eternal City. The passengers were destitute, famished, and without secure documents or shelter. Padre Benedetto had arrived in Rome from Marseille only three months earlier. Did he perhaps know some of the refugees?

After the war Padre Benedetto remembered his response to Alatri's question: “I went to see [the foreign Jews] at the Jewish orphanage where they were temporarily housed and I recognized a good number of those I had previously assisted in Marseille and Nice.” Among those he knew were Esther and Rachel Fallmann and their mother, Ida. Padre Benedetto was hooked. “It was impossible for me not to resume the duties of my assistance work,” he recorded. “I then made the acquaintance of Delasem, with which I worked for nine months [until liberation], taking part in all its activities.”1 Delasem was a national Jewish refugee assistance committee based in Genoa but with regional offices in Rome. Its local director, Settimio Sorani, became one of Padre Benedetto's close friends and associates in Jewish rescue.

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10 - With Stefan Schwamm in Rome: Securing Funds for Jewish Rescue

Zuccotti, Susan Indiana University Press ePub

SECURING FUNDS FOR JEWISH RESCUE

IN THE LATE AUTUMN OF 1943, PADRE MARIA BENEDETTO'S position and connections as a Catholic priest were invaluable to Delasem's efforts in yet another way. The Jewish rescue organization in Rome was desperately short of money. It had largely depleted its own local financial reserves, as well as two hundred thousand lire made available by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities at the end of September and six hundred thousand lire sent from its national headquarters in Genoa at the end of October. Another one hundred thousand lire would come from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities in early March 1944, but the total was woefully insufficient to support for eight or nine months what is generally agreed to have been about 2,532 people by May 1944. New sources of funding had to be found. Indeed, as Sorani remembered after the war, “The most difficult and tormenting problem [for Delasem's rescue activities in German-occupied Rome] was always the search for the funds necessary for helping [refugees].”1

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7 - Père Marie-Benoît and the Donati Plan, June to September 1943

Zuccotti, Susan Indiana University Press ePub

JUNE TO SEPTEMBER 1943

BACK IN LATE JULY OR EARLY AUGUST 1942, AROUND THE TIME that French police in the unoccupied zone were beginning to expel foreign Jews to the Germans in the north, Père Marie-Benoît first learned that the general minister of the Capuchin order wanted to recall him to the International College in Rome, where he had been trained and had taught between the two wars. The reasons for this recall remain obscure. Père Marie-Benoît told Lospinoso that his superiors in Rome supported his work on behalf of Jews, but it is conceivable that some Capuchins in Marseille saw him as a cause of danger to them and wanted to curtail his activities. It is also possible that they believed the priest himself was in danger and they hoped to protect him. Or they may have felt that their confrere had too much freedom, wandering around Marseille without supervision, or they may have been jealous of his growing reputation. On the other hand, the decision could have been made on purely administrative grounds. The head of the Capuchin order in Rome may simply have needed a good professor of theology, or have considered that his brilliant priest in Marseille was not focusing sufficiently on intellectual pursuits. But whatever the reasons of his superior, it is crystal clear that Père Marie-Benoît did not want to go.

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9 - With Stefan Schwamm in Rome: Securing Documents for Jewish Rescue

Zuccotti, Susan Indiana University Press ePub

SECURING DOCUMENTS FOR JEWISH RESCUE

NOT LONG AFTER THE ROME ROUNDUP OF OCTOBER l6, 1943, German police launched their first raid on the Hotel Salus. Some forty Delasem protégés were residing at the Salus at that time, most without documents, along with many non-Jews. By sheer chance, Padre Benedetto was at the hotel when the Germans arrived. “Fortunately,” he recorded later, “in the back courtyard there was a wall that could be scaled by means of a ladder, and in just a few minutes everyone had cleared out. I stayed almost alone with the personnel of the hotel. After insisting with the [German] agents who searched the place several times, I was released after three hours.” By “insisting” he presumably meant he was vouching for the boarders who were “out” that day.1

Then on October 28 Settimio Sorani paid a near-fatal visit to Cyril Kotnik, a diplomat attached to the Yugoslavian delegation to the Holy See and a loyal friend of Delasem. Unknown to Sorani, Gestapo agents had arrested Kotnik the day before and were in the process of searching Kotnik's apartment when Sorani knocked on the door. Naturally Sorani was arrested and taken to Gestapo headquarters in the via Tasso. For ten terrifying days he was interrogated, beaten, and interrogated again. He stuck to his story. He had come to the building to deliver a message for a friend and had mistaken the entry and floor. He had knocked on the wrong door. He knew no one named Kotnik. His false documents apparently stood up under intense scrutiny, and he was not recognized as Jewish. The Germans finally accepted his story and released him on November 6.2 But while remaining director of Delasem in Rome, Sorani now had to be more careful than ever.

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4 - First Steps toward Jewish Rescue: Marseille, May 1940 to August 1942

Zuccotti, Susan Indiana University Press ePub

MARSEILLE, MAY 1940 TO AUGUST 1942

BACK IN ROME AT THE END OF 1939, PÈRE MARIE-BENOÎT WAS to enjoy little more than four months of uneasy peace before his life changed forever. On May 10, 1940, following an extended period of inaction on the Western Front, the German army attacked Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Advancing rapidly, it reached the French border in a matter of days. On May 14 the Germans broke through the French lines at Sedan, and the Battle of France began. The following day French and British troops abandoned Belgian territory. The British withdrawal from Dunkirk began on May 26. Belgium surrendered to the Germans on May 28.

The fighting in Western Europe immediately affected Père Marie-Benoît in his monastery in Rome. For the third time in a year and a half, and still eligible for military service, he had to return to France. On May 19, just nine days after the beginning of the German offensive, he and two other French priests in Rome boarded a train headed north.1 Looking back on that period years later, he wrote, “Being of French nationality and still liable to being mobilized, I left Rome, where I usually resided, because of the imminence of war between Italy and France…and, to await events, I went to the monastery of the Capuchins, 51 rue Croix-de-Régnier in Marseille, where I stayed for three years.”2 In an interview for a newspaper article after the war, he gave a slightly different reason for his departure, explaining, “The gallophobie [anti-French sentiment] of the Fascists had made the air of Rome unbreathable for all French men and women.”3

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Zoe C Sherinian (7)
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1 How Can The Subaltern Speak? Musical Style, Value, and the Historical Process of (Re)indigenization of Tamil Christian Music

Zoe C. Sherinian Indiana University Press ePub

Musical Style, Value, and the Historical Process of (Re)indigenization of Tamil Christian Music

People perform social identity through music. Thus musical value can encode both powerful and degraded social value. Over the last four hundred years, through multiple waves of culture contact and local internal negotiations, Tamil Christians have (re)indigenized Christian music, making conscious style changes in performance practice to encode shifts of power and social identity. Understanding the historical indigenization process of Tamil Christian music provides insight into how and why Theophilus Appavoo turned to folk music as his chosen medium for liberating theological production. It clarifies how he re-indigenized Christianity to the cultural resources of Dalit Christians in a context in which the devaluation of folk music paralleled the devaluation of outcaste people. The indigenization of Christian music in the Tamil context provides a model of the subaltern, re-sounding empowerment through theology in the church and greater society. Re-indigenization of Christianity to a Dalit theological identity through music is subaltern practice and praxis.

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3 Parattai’s Theology: Greeting God in the Cēri

Zoe C. Sherinian Indiana University Press ePub

Greeting God in the Cēri

Mr. Pitchai, a non-Christian Dalit landless laborer, described God from the perspective of Tamil village religious practice (or Adi Samayam, “original religion”), saying “God is part and parcel of life” (Appavoo 1997, 283). This inspiration for Appavoo, from one of his “best teachers of theology,” led him to formulate an understanding of Christian theology from Dalit religions. He concluded that “theology in Dalit tradition is not just speaking or writing, it is life that is lived with God. Theological expression is not just verbal, it is expression of life” (Appavoo 1997, 283). From this understanding of theology as the action of holistic liberative living and his observation of Dalit religion, Appavoo asserts that worship is the primary means of theological expression for Dalits and should be an essential part of an emerging Dalit theology (Appavoo 1997, 283).

At the heart of Dalit Christian worship lies folk music. Appavoo described this when he proclaimed to me, “We are drumming our theology,” referencing the reclamation of the parai drum and drummer as a symbol of Dalit cultural liberation that has occurred among Christians and in the secular Dalit movement in Tamil Nadu. Paṟai drumming had been considered the ritually degraded occupation of the Paṟaiyars, as members of this jāti were required to play for upper-caste funerals, thus associating the drum and the drummers with the pollution of death.1 By bringing this instrument physically into the sacred space of the church building and using it to accompany his liturgy in folk music, Appavoo made significant steps toward reversing its associations with degradation, transforming the psyche of Dalits with a sense of healing pride in their culture. Indeed while Appavoo and his students had been using the paṟai drum in liturgies at TTS since the early 1990s, one of his students, S. Jebarajan, took this reclamation a step further. In 2003 he composed a Paṟai Isai Vai Pāḍu (or Paṟai Music Worship) which required that all members of the congregation gather around a musician holding the paṟai drum during the passing of the peace (creating community through shaking hands and acknowledging each other’s presence) and touch the instrument to reaffirm their commitment to working for Dalit liberation.2 An esteemed theologian and TTS professor, who was a Paṟaiyar himself, had been attending TTS folk music services for many years in which the paṟai was played, but had never touched the instrument. The experience of doing so in this worship brought him to tears, producing a cathartic release of internalized shame.3

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6 Performing Global Dalit Consciousness

Zoe C. Sherinian Indiana University Press ePub

Through Tamil folk music Dalits have been transformed spiritually, psychologically, and socially from centuries of caste discrimination, as well as contemporary class and gender oppression. This study demonstrates that folk music is an effective form of transmission of Dalit Christian theology to villagers and the poor. Yet it is clear from the reception of Dalit theologian Theophilus Appavoo’s music by villagers that there is still work to be done to make his theology holistically effective.

My analysis of the song “Tāyi Tagappanārē” in the previous chapter focused on the reception by Dalit villagers of Appavoo’s three tenets: universal family, oru olai, and the strategy of reversal. In the village context these tenets articulated a Dalit consciousness, connected multiple forms of oppression, and promoted action, which included participation in liturgy, change in lyrics or music to make them more meaningful or precise, and change in society. I observed that the music brought a consciousness of oppression and reinforced the growing self-esteem and subject reformation among village Dalits. Yet this reception study also shows that some of Appavoo’s lyrics need to be re-created to communicate the integral relationship among caste, class, and gender oppression. Further, transmission by trained priests and activists has supported the most effective interpretations and use of his songs and thus needs to continue to keep Paraṭṭai’s music relevant as a change agent.

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4 Ethnography as Transformative Musical Dialogue

Zoe C. Sherinian Indiana University Press ePub

Maṉasamāttayappā/Maṉasamāttayammā

Composed by J. T. Appavoo

Translated by J. T. Appavoo and Zoe Sherinian

PALLAVI (REFRAIN)

Show us the way to change our hearts, Oh, Lord our God!

The people must live in peace, Oh, Lord our Father, Lord our Mother.

ANNUPALLAVI

The demon gang has come like bedbugs and mosquitoes.

They have immigrated into the country and homes.

They are dancing and singing wildly,1 causing fights.

So, you must come as quickly as possible to resolve this conflict.

CHARANAM ONE (VERSE)

The peace, which Gabriel talked about, that Christmas song,

has vanished into the air. It still has not come to us.

Even the coffee tumbler in the stall has arrogance and wickedness.

The caste devil is the vicious one.

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2 Sharing the Meal: A Dalit Family’s Dialogue with the History of Tamil Christian Music, 1850–1994

Zoe C. Sherinian Indiana University Press ePub

A Dalit Family’s Dialogue with the History of Tamil Christian Music, 1850–1994

Virundu Parimāṟuṟadu (Meal Sharing Song)

From Girāmiya Isai Vaipāḍu (Village Music Liturgy)

Composed by J. T. Appavoo

Translated by J. T. Appavoo and Zoe Sherinian

LEAD SPOKEN:

Vāṅga ellām tayārā irukkudu

Come, everything is ready!

CHORUS

Tiruvirundu viḍutalai tandiḍum arumarundu

Holy meal, the rare medicine that liberates

1. Mantiramāyamilla mariccavarai neṉacci

It is not magic or illusion, not the feast given

Tandiḍum virundumala sāttira saḍaṅgumalla

in remembrance of the dead, or the rituals of sastirams

2. Sondamuyaṟciyālē vandiḍum mīṭpumalla

This meal is not redemption that comes through our own efforts

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Zachary R Morgan (7)
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1 Introduction: Race and Violence in Brazil and Its Navy

Zachary R. Morgan Indiana University Press ePub

Because Uncle Tom would not take vengeance into his own hands, he was not a hero for me. Heroes, as far as I could then see, were white, and not merely because of the movies but because of the land in which I lived, of which movies were simply a reflection: I despised and feared those heroes because they did take vengeance into their own hands. They thought that vengeance was theirs to take.

JAMES BALDWIN, The Devil Finds Work, 1976

WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR BRAZIL WHEN A GROUP OF MEN, overwhelmingly poor Afro-Brazilians, violently rose up and demanded their right to citizenship? For generations, Brazilian sailors were pressed into service and forced to work under the direct threat of the lash. But then, at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, they seized the navy’s battleships and held hostage Brazil’s capital city of Rio de Janeiro. These sailors, overwhelmingly Afro-Brazilians, demanded that their white officers stop “the slavery that is practiced in the Brazilian navy.”1 They staked a claim for citizenship and rights that should have resonated throughout the Atlantic; yet the story of the Revolta da Chibata (Revolt of the Lash) remains largely untold and has been until very recently, even for most Brazilians, forgotten.

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2 Legislating the Lash

Zachary R. Morgan Indiana University Press ePub

Yet it is said we must flog, to maintain discipline among sailors. Pshaw!! Flogging may be needful to awe a slave writhing under a sense of unmerited wrong, but never should a lash fall on a freeman’s back, especially if he holds the safety and honor of his country in his keeping.

SAMUEL LEECH,
Thirty Years from Home or A Voice from the Main Deck, 1843

THE BRAZILIAN STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM Portugal is often described as a “bloodless” transition. This is not entirely accurate as the Brazilian army and navy fought both Portuguese troops and Brazilian antiroyalists in Brazil from February 1822 until November 1823, and finally expelled the last Portuguese troops from Montevideo in March 1824 when the Cisplatine Province (now Uruguay) was briefly incorporated into the Brazilian empire. However, historians rightfully focus on Brazil’s comparative lack of violence in contrast to the Spanish American wars of independence that shattered Spain’s control over its empire.

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4 Roots of a Rebellion

Zachary R. Morgan Indiana University Press ePub

Armstrongs wasn’t just a factory in a city suburb; at its peak it was Newcastle. For better or worse. The story of its famous guns and ships and tanks has often been told, has become a fascinating part of British industrial history.

DAVID BEAN, Armstrong’s Men

THE REVOLTA DA CHIBATA CAN BE BEST UNDERSTOOD IN THE context of the broader Atlantic World. In this era, the international sale of modern warships and the movement of the crews of naval and merchant marine vessels linked together waterfront cities throughout the Atlantic and beyond. Too often, the end of the Atlantic slave trade has been represented as a closing point for the comparative study of race in the Atlantic World, limiting conceptualization of the Black Atlantic to a colonial model. The Revolta da Chibata offers a modern example of the complex interactions that linked the twentieth-century Atlantic World.

Events that Brazilian sailors witnessed – and those in which they participated – during their stay in Newcastle while awaiting the delivery of warships from Armstrongs from the summer of 1909 through the first months of 1910 helped motivate the sailors who organized and carried out the revolt. Not to overemphasize those British roots; resistance to corporal punishment in the Brazilian navy clearly preceded the mass arrival of Brazilian sailors in Newcastle over the summer of 1909. But to overlook the impact of technological advances in Europe, the growth of the international arms market, the naval reforms initiated by British sailors, and the radicalism of British dockworkers at the turn of the twentieth century leaves the impression that the Revolta da Chibata occurred in isolation. To do so ignores the experiences of foreign sailors in Newcastle and the special nature of that city. Such neglect allows for the harshest critics of the reclamantes to redefine the movement and, I fear, extends the silence and mischaracterization that has for too long defined this revolt.

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3 Control of the Lower Decks, 1860–1910

Zachary R. Morgan Indiana University Press ePub

What exactly do we mean when we use the term “povo”? Certainly not this base mass of illiterate, diseased, shriveled, malaria-ridden mestizos and blacks. This cannot be called a “people,” they cannot be presented to foreigners as an example of our people. The workers cannot be this example, they will never be the people. People means race, culture, civilization, affirmation, nationhood – not the dregs of a nation.

JOÃO UBALDO RIBEIRO, Viva o povo brasileiro

ACCORDING TO THE RECORDS OF THE NAVAL HIGH COURT (Conselho de Guerra da Marinha), in June 1872, cabin boy (grumete) Cosme Monoel do Nascimento, was found guilty of gravely wounding fellow cabin boy Francisco Palmeira d’Oliveira with a razor. He initially received a sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment, though that sentence would later be reduced to ten years. Through the court records, we gain access to a laundry list of biographical detail. We learn that Nascimento was a black (preto) twenty-seven-year-old who was born in Pernambuco; his father was José Francisco das Chagas. Nascimento enrolled in the Imperial Marines (Corpo dos Imperiais Marinheiros, the more prestigious branch of the navy akin to the U.S. marines) in 1862, but in May 1871, due to dishonorable behavior, he was moved to the regular navy and demoted to the rank of cabin boy.1

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6 Betrayal and Revenge

Zachary R. Morgan Indiana University Press ePub

In fact, it was almost impossible with them on board, to maintain discipline. To the eyes of the people, the newspapers had presented João Cândido, a black man, as a national hero and had attributed to him the capacity of a great seaman, purposely treating him as an admiral.

FELIPE MOREIRA LIMA, tenente in the Brazilian army, 1910

The terrible feature of the revolt is the apathy of the officers under this crushing indictment of inefficiency, and incompetence. The modern powerful battleships, scouts, and torpedo boats are useless in the hands of Brazilian naval officers and men. Without preliminary training they are not experienced enough to handle them and the navy is disorganized, disoriented, and a navy in name only.

IRVING B. DUDLEY, Memo to the U.S. Secretary of State

BRAZILS CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT ENDED THE REVOLTA DA Chibata through the passage and ratification of the general amnesty of the insurgent sailors on November 26, 1910. Following its negotiated conclusion, the repercussions of this armed uprising resonated throughout Brazil. The divisions that formed between naval elites and members of the Brazilian government during the revolt – rooted in the struggle over the implementation of either a military or diplomatic solution in ending the uprising – reignited into long-term hostility over this issue. For decades, partisans blamed each other for the circumstances that culminated in the Revolta da Chibata.

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