By Ron Eyerman
This publication explores the formation of the African-American id throughout the idea of cultural trauma. The trauma in query is slavery, no longer as an establishment or as own event, yet as collective memory--a pervasive remembrance that grounded a people's feel of itself. Ron Eyerman bargains insights into the highbrow and generational conflicts of identity-formation that have a very common importance, and offers a brand new and compelling account of the delivery of African-American id.
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Additional info for Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity
It was the Abolitionist image of slavery as an evil system totally contrary to Christian beliefs, which degraded whites as much as it brutalized blacks, that offered a powerful challenge to the view of slavery as an economic enterprise with benevolent, civilizing, or at least benign, side effects. Stowe’s novel was a bestseller when it was published in 1853. So much so that the author published, Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin the following year. Another literary genre to emerge in this abolitionist context was the ﬁrst-hand accounts written by slaves themselves, the so-called slave narratives.
Part and parcel of the process of collective identity or will formation is the linking of diverse experiences into a unity, past as well as present. Social movements are central to this process, not only at the individual level, but also at the organizational or meso level of social interaction. Institutions like the black church and cultural artifacts like blues music may have embodied and passed on collective memories from generation to generation, but it was through social movements that even these diverse collective memories attained a more uniﬁed focus, linking individuals and collectives into a uniﬁed subject, with a common future as well as a common past.
Where one generation, or unit within it, may be actively engaged with a speciﬁc aspect of the past, in this instance, slavery, does not exclude terms like latency or psychological theories of trauma, in fact they may be helpful in our understanding of such differences. At the same time as black life in the South was becoming more differentiated and complex, white views of the civil war and its aftermath were undergoing a transformation. “For most Northerners,” writes Merton Dillon (1974:265), “the Civil War and Reconstruction settled the racial question.
Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity by Ron Eyerman