Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Organized Chaos and Learning History from a differemt Vantage point

August 25, 2009 · No Comments

This Sunday in London the Humanities group went on a walking tour of the Tower Hill and a designated area of London built by the Romans (i.e the roman wall). The beautiful architecture seemed so distinct to London, because of this sense of organized chaos of defined by the Roman architecture mixed with the modern. Of all the places that I have ever been to in my short lifetime London buy far has the most character. London has no structure as to what any given area must look like, instead a person traveling the city would view a very diverse array of structural design, and although not in harmony with the “look” of London, still manages to define the personality of London.
As we walked the tour I could not help but compare the diversity within the building design to that of the people and different cultures that inhabit London. Being completely unaware of what the structure and the faces of London would like, I was completely surprised to see how similar in diversity London was in comparison to a large metropolitan area like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. People from all different regions of the world all together in one area is something I am used to seeing from where I come from, so coming to London and witnessing this same phenomenon of integration, however surprising, provided me with a sense of comfort because of how normal it felt.
However, as I mentioned before the major difference from major cities in America and perhaps most of the major cities in the world in comparison to London is the architectural structure and the randomness that is London. It is not uncommon to walk the streets of London to see a Cathedral or monument next to an insurance firm or a modern day office. Nor is it out of the norm to see a Starbucks located inside a historical monument. This theme of organized chaos that makes up this amazing city is one that is unique to that of any other place in the world, and makes me love it that much more.
However while walking through the tour of the London wall, and having read the history of London, I was surprised that I had not heard of the negative history of London. I pondered why I had not learned of London’s dark history, specifically the slave trade, and London’s role in it. Luckily later that afternoon my group visited the Docklands museum, where my curiosity would not only be satisfied, but educated.
On the top floor of the museum just past the first exhibit lies, the London African slave trade. When I tell you that this was one of the most amazing exhibits I had ever had the privilege of entering, I am only describing about 10% of how surreal this experience was. Having always learned about the slave trade as being an international event, I had only delved my knowledge to the America’s experience of it. So to actually learn about one of the world superpowers who participated in this inhumane portion of history made me challenge my views of what I had learned previously. In the exhibit they made it a point to express to the audience why they chose certain word’s in the exhibit and explained the history of the words so that the audience was able to get a sense of how important language is in this system of oppression that is slavery.
This experience has taught me so much about the world, and that there is so much more to learn. I feel so blessed to be in a position to get to learn about the world and its many different cultures in a way that others only get to dream about. I will cherish these moments forever!

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