Panel proposal for the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, San Francisco, 31 March to 3 April 2005
“Language and Ritual in Early American Encounters: A Roundtable Discussion”
Language and ritual together created a foundation for cross-cultural communication in early American encounters. Words, spoken and written, and ritual, both routine and otherwise, could contribute to mutual understanding, the formation of enduring relationships, and the emergence of new cultural patterns. In other cases, language and ritual stimulated or exacerbated misunderstanding, conflict, even violence. Historians have demonstrated a genuine interest in these topics, especially in studies of diplomacy between Native peoples and Europeans and Americans. Recently, scholars employing a variety of interdisciplinary techniques have engaged a broader range of issues, questions, and problems related to language and ritual in early American encounters. A roundtable discussion offers a valuable opportunity to develop a conversation and generate ideas about sources, methods of analysis, special challenges, and the future of such studies.
Organizers: Tracy Neal Leavelle (Creighton University) and Brett Rushforth (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
Format: Five to six participants with a moderator. Each participant introduces a specific case or addresses a significant question in a five-minute presentation. A moderated discussion involving the participants and the audience follows.
Tracy Neal Leavelle will discuss language, translation, and ritual in French-Indian religious encounters.
Brett Rushforth will discuss how language and ritual can illuminate our understanding of the Indian slave trade.
We invite additional proposals in the form of a brief paragraph on such subjects as:
the emergence and evolution of slave languages
folk medicine and rituals of healing
gender / family / sexuality
the consequences of miscommunication
Other proposals and ideas are welcome. Please send proposals and a one-page cv to both organizers at the email addresses given below.
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