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How do we explain the persistent preoccupation with American Indians in Germany and the staggering numbers of Germans one encounters as visitors to Indian country? As H. Glenn Penny demonstrates, that preoccupation is rooted in an affinity for American Indians that has permeated German cultures for two centuries. This affinity stems directly from German polycentrism, notions of tribalism, a devotion to resistance, a longing for freedom, and a melancholy sense of shared fate. Locating the origins of the fascination for Indian life in the transatlantic world of German cultures in the nineteenth century, Penny explores German settler colonialism in the American Midwest, the rise and fall of German America, and the transnational worlds of American Indian performers. As he traces this phenomenon through the twentieth century, Penny engages debates about race, masculinity, comparative genocides, and American Indians' reactions to Germans' interests in them. He also assesses what persists of the affinity across the political ruptures of modern German history and challenges readers to rethink how cultural history is made.
How do we explain the persistent preoccupation with American Indians in Germany and the staggering numbers of Germans one encounters as visitors to Indian country? As H. Glenn Penny demonstrates, that preoccupation is rooted in an affinity for American Indians that has permeated German cultures for two centuries. He also assesses what persists of the affinity across the political ruptures of modern German history and challenges readers to rethink how cultural history is made.
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
In the late nineteenth century, Germans spearheaded a worldwide effort to preserve the material traces of humanity, designing major ethnographic museums and building extensive networks of communication and exchange across the globe. In this groundbreaking study, Glenn Penny explores the appeal of ethnology in Imperial Germany and analyzes the motivations of the scientists who created the ethnographic museums. Penny shows that German ethnologists were not driven by imperialist desires or an interest in legitimating putative biological or racial hierarchies. Overwhelmingly antiracist, they aspired to generate theories about the essential nature of human beings through their museums' collections. They gained support in their efforts from boosters who were enticed by participating in this international science and who used it to promote the cosmopolitan character of their cities and themselves. But these cosmopolitan ideals were eventually overshadowed by the scientists' more modern, professional, and materialist concerns, which dramatically altered the science and its goals. By clarifying German ethnologists' aspirations and focusing on the market and conflicting interest groups, Penny makes important contributions to German history, the history of science, and museum studies.
This engaging collection of essays discusses the complexities of “being” indigenous in public spaces. Laura R. Graham and H. Glenn Penny bring together a set of highly recognized junior and senior scholars, including indigenous scholars, from a variety of fields to provoke critical thinking about the many ways in which individuals and social groups construct and display unique identities around the world. The case studies in Performing Indigeneity underscore the social, historical, and immediate contextual factors at play when indigenous people make decisions about when, how, why, and who can “be” indigenous in public spaces. Performing Indigeneity invites readers to consider how groups and individuals think about performance and display and focuses attention on the ways that public spheres, both indigenous and nonindigenous ones, have received these performances. The essays demonstrate that performance and display are essential to the creation and persistence of indigeneity, while also presenting the conundrum that in many cases “indigeneity” excludes some of the voices or identities that the category purports to represent.
Americans' first attempts to forge a national identity coincided with the apparent need to define--and limit--the status and rights of Native Americans. During these early decades of the nineteenth century, the image of the "Indian" circulated throughout popular culture--in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, plays about Pocahontas, Indian captivity narratives, Black Hawk's autobiography, and visitors' guides to the national capitol. In exploring such sources as well as the political and legal rhetoric of the time, Susan Scheckel argues that the "Indian question" was intertwined with the ways in which Americans viewed their nation's past and envisioned its destiny. She shows how the Indians provided a crucial site of reflection upon national identity. And yet the Indians, by being denied the natural rights upon which the constitutional principles of the United States rested, also challenged American convictions of moral ascendancy and national legitimacy. Scheckel investigates, for example, the Supreme Court's decision on Indian land rights and James Fenimore Cooper's popular frontier romance The Pioneers: both attempted to legitimate American claims to land once owned by Indians and to assuage guilt associated with the violence of conquest by incorporating the Indians in a version of the American political "family." Alternatively, the widely performed Pocahontas plays dealt with the necessity of excluding Indians politically, but also portrayed these original inhabitants as embodying the potential of the continent itself. Such examples illustrate a gap between principles and practice. It is from this gap, according to the author, that the nation emerged, not as a coherent idea or a realist narrative, but as an ongoing performance that continues to play out, without resolution, fundamental ambivalences of American national identity.
During World War I, about 10,000 Native Americans either enlisted or were drafted into the American Expeditionary Force. Three related questions are examined in depth for the first time in this book: What were the battlefield experiences of Native Americans? How did racial and cultural stereotypes about Indians affect their duties? Did their wartime contributions lead to changes in federal Indian policy or their standard of living? Many American Indians distinguished themselves fighting on the Western Front. And as compared to black and Mexican American soldiers, Indians enjoyed near universal respect when in uniform. To celebrate their patriotism during and after the war, Indians could even perform a variety of traditional ceremonies otherwise proscribed. Both in combat and in their support roles on the homefront, including volunteer contributions by Indian women, Native Americans hoped their efforts would result in a more vigorous application of democracy. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to cut health and education programs and to suppress Indian cultures. "This is a first-rate book and a significant contribution to twentieth-century Indian history."--Professor Donald L. Parman

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