215 Chapters
Medium 9780253006875

8. Politics of Narrative at the African Burial Ground in New York City: The Final Monument

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub




The African Burial Ground located in lower Manhattan was used by Africans and people of African descent from approximately 1700 until 1790. It covered five to six acres and likely contained the remains of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. A small portion of the African Burial Ground was unearthed in 1991 when the General Services Administration (GSA) built on top of the cemetery a thirty-four-story Federal Office Building at 290 Broadway between Duane and Reade Streets. The eighteenth-century colonial cemetery was located in what has become today's Civic Center of lower Manhattan, surrounded by City Hall, Federal Plaza, and the New York Supreme Court. Because the plot of land at 290 Broadway is prime real estate, it was initially treated as such, rather than as a sacred, historical burial site. Eventually, after community activism and governmental involvement, several commemorative art projects were eventually commissioned for the site.1

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Medium 9780253013873

3 Zombie Spaces

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

New York City in death was very much like New York City in life. It was still hard to get a cab, for example. The main difference was that there were fewer people.

Colson Whitehead, Zone One

Over the past decade the zombie has been transformed from a movie monster that appeared primarily in American underground cinema and Italian horror films to a ubiquitous trope in popular culture. Instantly recognizable to general global audiences, yet flexible enough to serve both as a legitimate monster and as the punch line to a bad joke, the figure of the mindless undead has clearly found resonance in late capitalist culture and has been connected to a wide range of concepts and ideas. In the same way that Marx and Engels related the system of industrial capitalism to the figure of the vampire, many critics have pointed out that our postindustrial obsession with zombies is no coincidence: “the nineteenth century, with its classic régime of industrial capitalism, was the age of the vampire, but the network society of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries is rather characterized by a plague of zombies” (Shaviro 282).

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Medium 9781574412208

CHAPTER SIX: Mature Years, 1984–2001

Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9780253009036

3 What’s Left of the Right to the City?

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


An undeniable legacy of 1968 is the proclamation of the right to the city. What happened in Paris, Prague, and many other cities, however, was merely the crystallization of long-existing conditions: even the concept was formulated earlier. Henri Lefebvre finished The Right to the City in 1967, on the centenary of volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, as Lefebvre himself noted, but it was not this temporal coincidence or the intellectual kinship that determined its significance. The concept of the right to the city came into its own with the events of 1968; it received justification in people reclaiming the streets for radical politics, people who acted as if they had all read Lefebvre and were staging his work in the streets of Paris. The right to the city has informed urban theory and inspired urban justice movements ever since. Some also note the radical transformation this notion has gone through since its conception, what with the “undeclared vulgarization” of some of Lefebvre’s ideas, and their circulation in severely abridged forms undermining their original meaning.1

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14. Apprentices and Entrepreneurs: The Workshop and Style Uniformity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

One of the major questions in African art scholarship concerns the degree to which the African artist was and is free to invent. Despite the early insights of Boas (1955[1927]:155) and his followers concerning artistic invention in oral cultures, the accepted picture until recently was that of the African artist as slave to tradition. He could not innovate because the pressures of traditional patronage forbade it. Since that time, numerous field researchers have shown that innovation can and does occur when the conditions are favorable. During the same period, the documentation of African art has expanded dramatically, and with it has come confirmation that the old “one tribe, one style” model fails to describe the stylistic diversity found in most art-producing African cultures (Kasfir 1984). We are, therefore, at a point where everyone recognizes that style varies from artist to artist as well as over time, even in quite highly structured and conservative societies. But how do these variations arise? And, more important, why do they occur much more often in some societies than in others? The purpose of this chapter is to examine the dynamics through which an artist’s personal style is encoded along with the limitations placed upon stylistic change. Although I will make less mention of it, most of the arguments hold true for iconography as well, simply because the two are often inseparable. I will focus on two major aspects of the question: the way in which the artist acquires a style, and the effects of patronage on his ability to change it. In doing so I am faced with a methodological dilemma: to generalize is to invite oversimplification of very complex creative processes, but to maintain that because every African culture is unique, it is not susceptible to comparative analysis is to reinforce stereotypical ideas concerning the lack of any common ground between creativity in literate and in oral cultures. Because of this problem, I have found it useful to compare some of the findings of other researchers with my own answers to these questions. As more documentation becomes available, these comparisons become increasingly valid.

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