Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Looking at People's Feet(and other things no one wants to read about)

August 24, 2009 · 5 Comments

I shall get to the stuff we’re supposed to get to shortly, I promise. But first:  The first group discussion was today. Both it, and the blog, seem to be the most efficient and fluid means of dealing with a scenario like this; however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t without bumps. Rather than being a free-flowing exchange of ideas, it turned out to be as muddled as the Thames.  Professor Qualls noted early on that those who were not used to speaking up should learn to do so, which i completely agree with, but at the same time this type of open forum(especially with such a large group) is not always condusive to the parry-repulse that I think we may have been striving for. 

Now for something completely different…I went to the Docklands Museum today. As I had come in the second group, I had already been given to preemptive notions of what the museum would hold. I do have to say the section of the museum about the enslavement was interesting, especially the video that played over the exhibit’s walls. The effect as a whole was unsettling, intrusive and disconcerting. But what shocked me was how much those feelings continued to come up in the museum. I have always felt the British a subtle and quiet folk, and yet the museum had many abrassive points where they were quite the opposite.  The transitioning in the museum was really cool and the models and simulated areas were incredibly well done. Sadly my camera died a few minutes before we were to leave, so I wasn’t able to document much visually.  At the very beginning to the museum they brought something up, which seemed almost too simple to be actually said. London was a fort, and the Romans the foreigners.  A people often attempt to harken back to their roots, their origins. But with the British, they really have two: they have either focus on the Romans, who were an opressive force, or the celtic tribes in the area, who were being opressed. This ambiguity seems to be at the heart of the Brits’ inner conflict.  They strive to be civilized, but the civilized people are actually the ones who are doing to the most uncivilized things. I am temped to say that the understated nature of the British stem from this historical insecurity. It could also be why so many people in Britain have trouble with foreigners.  The problem with this statement is that the British also maintain an immense pride for their country. My rebuttle for that is they incredibly outspoken about it. The poems today all seems painful and smugging of London, yet they maintain a sense of ownership of it. I’m trying to remember what Mrs. Fox said exactly, but the British are allowed to be prideful but not proud.

I have been thinking a lot about what differences lie between the English and the Americans. I would not be so bold as to think I am analyzing anywhere beyond the superficial, but the article about time got me to think about how the people of London move. There are most certainly cultural and class distinctions of leg movement– but not of foot movement.(Noted) In all likelyhood I am just not being observant; however, it seems like all Londoner’s foot placement and tempo is the same, relatively speaking.  I thought at first that it was just a human thing, but I found that our group had very little similarity in the way we placed our feet. Now that I’ve said that I’m sure to get a bombardment of corrections, so I’ll cop out by saying that I haven’t done enough research to make a judgement or analysis.

anyway, cheers

Categories: Andrew R
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5 responses so far ↓

  •   finkelsm // Aug 24th 2009 at 12:22

    I agree with your comments on the slavery exhibit. I also found the video that was shown on the walls to be very disconcerting, however I found the list of ships, captains, owners, and cargo involved in the slave and sugar trade to be more unsettling, as it was right there in black and white to see the amount of people that they enslaved for the tonnage of sugar they shipped. What really surprised me was that London was the fourth biggest slave trading center and that there were not any cities from the United States on that particular list. I had wrongly assumed that southern United States would be among the major slave trade cities.

  •   russella // Aug 24th 2009 at 12:38

    Yeah, I thought the lists were cool and definitely went along with the abrasive nature of the exhibit. It definitely felt more along the lines of a monument than an exhibit piece. I keep on hearing this bit about people not knowing how involved London, and England in general, was with the slave trade, and it baffles me. London was the focal point of commerse, and one of the biggest trades at the time was slaves.

  •   roseam // Aug 24th 2009 at 13:32

    “They strive to be civilized, but the civilized people are actually the ones who are doing to the most uncivilized things.”

    I think the problem with this statement is that nobody is able to make a general statement about what is civilized and what is not. To us, civilization means one thing but in the UK it means something different, and perhaps in a third world country it means something else entirely. Issues often arise when one tries to press their ideas of what is right and wrong onto others. People then begin to lose sight of their original goal and use immoral means to justify an ends that isn’t even necessary to start with.

  •   roseam // Aug 24th 2009 at 13:33

    I don’t mean the problem with your statement, I mean the problem with what you’re talking about. I agree with the statement, actually :]

  •   russella // Aug 24th 2009 at 13:54

    I really should be reading, but gmail keeps popping up telling me there are responses, so I come like a lap dog to a bell.

    Touche. As the only anthropology major, you’d think I’d be phrasing things with more cultural relativism. It really was a blanket statement that I didn’t take time to clarify (namely because I wouldn’t give an answer that would satisfy me, and thus definitely wouldn’t satisfy anyone who actually read it). My intention seems not to have translated. What I had meant to say was that the Brit’s class structure is based around the idea of order and stability (much as the Hindu caste system), and that the class system is a means of keeping society from collapsing. Many of these ideas stem from the Romans. In a way, the current British class system is just a perpetuation of the Roman’s opression of the celtic tribes. As was said today in discussions, it is more than slightly ironic to have racism against foreigners when in fact it is an island of foreigners. Furthermore, England has done its fair share of nose-butting (namely in India).

    It seems as though they strive desperately to maintain order and control within their lives (even down to their walking pace and emotional expression’s range) yet these notions are all based on the idea of pushing out the nonconformity.

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