ISlamophobia and the americas
I gave a lecture to an undergraduate class today. It was entitled Islamophobia and the Americas: The Big Picture. The objective was to provide them with a longue durée analysis of how Islamophobia and the European conquest of the Americas are inextricably linked processes constitutive of modernity. I drew extensively on Enrique Dussel, Ramon Grosfoguel, Walter Mignolo and Dustin Craun. I don't think most of these young students had ever been introduced to such a narrative from a modernity/coloniality approach.
11/3/2016 10:11:29 pm
Great talk, Mr. Sparkes. I'd wanted to send you some comments, but I did not have your E-mail. One point I wanted to mention was how some mention of the EARLY presence of free non-Europeans in the Americas might add to your conclusion (and unstated supposition) that both "modernity" and "western culture" are products of trans-cultural interchange. It might be useful to note that free non-Europeans were early members of colonial communities in the Americas: there was a Turkish potter in the early Jamestown community, for example; he was the person who understood the most sophisticated pottery-making technology in the Americas at the time. (I think the case is documented in Ivor Noel Hulme's book <<Excavations at Martin's Hundred>>. Also useful to the story of the connection of the Americas to Islam is the story of the Vikings. What were the vikings doing in the Americas up until the start of the little Ice Age, ca. 1300? Archaeological evidence now suggests that they were trading iron for walrus tusks (and perhaps furs, too). Some archaeologists now believe the tusks, as valuable trade items, partially financed the crusades. Walrus tusk decorations, including at least one chess set, have even been found in Mideast. (Ancestors of the Inuit affiliated with the "Thule Culture" had migrated from Alaska about 1000 years ago, carrying with them a basic metalurgical technology they had learned from Siberian Inuit who had been trading with Japan or Manchuria. With this technology their culture quickly displaced the earlier Dorset culture. But, after trade with Siberian Inuit from one of those Asia empires dried up, the Thule depended on locating rare sources of metal -- mostly iron -- in the North American Arctic which consisted primarily of exposed ore and a few large meteorites (such as the one now in the museum of Natural History in NYC), until they finally were able to obtain iron by trading walrus ivory with Vikings.) Thus, a wonderfully bizarre story of the an almost totally circum-global trade, pre1492. Connecting East Asia, Siberia, Alaska, Arctic Canada, Viking Iceland, Europe, and the Mideast during the era of the crusades.
11/3/2016 10:34:15 pm
Thanks for coming to the talk tonight and for the detailed feedback. Indeed, I need to travel down some of these paths you are inviting me to explore to make the big picture even bigger and make even more connections.
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Transdisciplinary scholar of Islam and Sufism.