[Marxism] Slavery and Race [was: Notes on David Brion Davis' review]

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sat Nov 4 06:50:27 MST 2006

Let's change the subject line on this thread which has gotten far from the
David Brion Davis book.  So long as people are reading each other's emails,
this thread will work.

This is an important subject, of course, but that shows a clear difference
between reading the sources to fit the results into a theory and reading
FROM the sources.  If we're doing the latter, we understand race as a
shifting and amorphous term until nailed down by colonial legislation.  If
you go back earler, there's enough data suggesting that different Europeans
approached Africans with different ideas and assumptions, that covered a
very broad spectrum of possible options.  However, that doesn't mean that
"race" didn't exist, that a racist perception of hierarchy didn't exist, or
that these assumptions weren't acted upon.

I found Ted Allen's work an excellent summary, in many respects, of what
scholars have been arguing since the 1960s, but there were some major flaws.

Most notably, Allen sees no multi-racial options, which are there in the
various subcultures at the edges of New World society (maroons, pirates,

Also, the native presence is almost beneath notice.

Most importantly for us--and this isn't Allen's fault--the "whiteness" is
elaborated into a key insight into the US history despite the obvious fact
that Allen researched and wrote very little about the mainland North
American colonies or the future United States.  If we understand the nature
of race, we need to be particularly careful about letting the evidence for
these different experiences and contexts speak for themselves.


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