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 on: December 13, 2017, 05:24:33 PM 
Started by News - Last post by News

The White House, home and workplace of the U.S.  (wikipedia.org)

By Gabriel Rockhill
December 13, 2017 - counterpunch.org

One of the most steadfast beliefs regarding the United States is that it is a democracy. Whenever this conviction waivers slightly, it is almost always to point out detrimental exceptions to core American values or foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a “loss of democracy” due to the election of clownish autocrats, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions. The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government to its founding principles, highlighting the contradiction between the two and clearly placing hope in its potential resolution.

The problem, however, is that there is no contradiction or supposed loss of democracy because the United States simply never was one. This is a difficult reality for many people to confront, and they are likely more inclined to immediately dismiss such a claim as preposterous rather than take the time to scrutinize the material historical record in order to see for themselves. Such a dismissive reaction is due in large part to what is perhaps the most successful public relations campaign in modern history. What will be seen, however, if this record is soberly and methodically inspected, is that a country founded on elite, colonial rule based on the power of wealth—a plutocratic colonial oligarchy, in short—has succeeded not only in buying the label of “democracy” to market itself to the masses, but in having its citizenry, and many others, so socially and psychologically invested in its nationalist origin myth that they refuse to hear lucid and well-documented arguments to the contrary.

To begin to peel the scales from our eyes, let us outline in the restricted space of this article, five patent reasons why the United States has never been a democracy (a more sustained and developed argument is available in my book, Counter-History of the Present). To begin with, British colonial expansion into the Americas did not occur in the name of the freedom and equality of the general population, or the conferral of power to the people. Those who settled on the shores of the “new world,” with few exceptions, did not respect the fact that it was a very old world indeed, and that a vast indigenous population had been living there for centuries. As soon as Columbus set foot, Europeans began robbing, enslaving and killing the native inhabitants. The trans-Atlantic slave trade commenced almost immediately thereafter, adding a countless number of Africans to the ongoing genocidal assault against the indigenous population. Moreover, it is estimated that over half of the colonists who came to North America from Europe during the colonial period were poor indentured servants, and women were generally trapped in roles of domestic servitude. Rather than the land of the free and equal, then, European colonial expansion to the Americas imposed a land of the colonizer and the colonized, the master and the slave, the rich and the poor, the free and the un-free. The former constituted, moreover, an infinitesimally small minority of the population, whereas the overwhelming majority, meaning “the people,” was subjected to death, slavery, servitude, and unremitting socio-economic oppression.

Second, when the elite colonial ruling class decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they did not found it as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called “founding fathers,” the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures purportedly necessary for good governance. In the words of John Adams, to take but one telling example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the “subordination” so necessary for politics. When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that kept at bay vile democracy, which was judged worse than “the filth of the common sewers” by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous and slaves—meaning the overwhelming majority of the population—were simply excluded from the franchise. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators, and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President. It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: “it is not a democracy.” George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as “a despotic aristocracy.”

When the American republic slowly came to be relabeled as a “democracy,” there were no significant institutional modifications to justify the change in name. In other words, and this is the third point, the use of the term “democracy” to refer to an oligarchic republic simply meant that a different word was being used to describe the same basic phenomenon. This began around the time of “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in the 1830s. Presenting himself as a ‘democrat,’ he put forth an image of himself as an average man of the people who was going to put a halt to the long reign of patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term “democracy” came to be used as a public relations term to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos. Meanwhile, the American holocaust continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.

In spite of certain minor changes over time, the U.S. republic has doggedly preserved its oligarchic structure, and this is readily apparent in the two major selling points of its contemporary “democratic” publicity campaign. The Establishment and its propagandists regularly insist that a structural aristocracy is a “democracy” because the latter is defined by the guarantee of certain fundamental rights (legal definition) and the holding of regular elections (procedural definition). This is, of course, a purely formal, abstract and largely negative understanding of democracy, which says nothing whatsoever about people having real, sustained power over the governing of their lives. However, even this hollow definition dissimulates the extent to which, to begin with, the supposed equality before the law in the United States presupposes an inequality before the law by excluding major sectors of the population: those judged not to have the right to rights, and those considered to have lost their right to rights (Native Americans, African-Americans and women for most of the country’s history, and still today in certain aspects, as well as immigrants, “criminals,” minors, the “clinically insane,” political dissidents, and so forth). Regarding elections, they are run in the United States as long, multi-million dollar advertising campaigns in which the candidates and issues are pre-selected by the corporate and party elite. The general population, the majority of whom do not have the right to vote or decide not to exercise it, are given the “choice”—overseen by an undemocratic electoral college and embedded in a non-proportional representation scheme—regarding which member of the aristocratic elite they would like to have rule over and oppress them for the next four years. “Multivariate analysis indicates,” according to an important recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination […], but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy.”

To take but a final example of the myriad ways in which the U.S. is not, and has never been, a democracy, it is worth highlighting its consistent assault on movements of people power. Since WWII, it has endeavored to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected. It has also, according the meticulous calculations by William Blum in America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, grossly interfered in the elections of at least 30 countries, attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, dropped bombs on more than 30 countries, and attempted to suppress populist movements in 20 countries. The record on the home front is just as brutal. To take but one significant parallel example, there is ample evidence that the FBI has been invested in a covert war against democracy. Beginning at least in the 1960s, and likely continuing up to the present, the Bureau “extended its earlier clandestine operations against the Communist party, committing its resources to undermining the Puerto Rico independence movement, the Socialist Workers party, the civil rights movement, Black nationalist movements, the Ku Klux Klan, segments of the peace movement, the student movement, and the ‘New Left’ in general” (Cointelpro: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom, p. 22-23). Consider, for instance, Judi Bari’s summary of its assault on the Socialist Workers Party: “From 1943-63, the federal civil rights case Socialist Workers Party v. Attorney General documents decades of illegal FBI break-ins and 10 million pages of surveillance records. The FBI paid an estimated 1,600 informants $1,680,592 and used 20,000 days of wiretaps to undermine legitimate political organizing.” In the case of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (AIM)—which were both important attempts to mobilize people power to dismantle the structural oppression of white supremacy and top-down class warfare—the FBI not only infiltrated them and launched hideous smear and destabilization campaigns against them, but they assassinated 27 Black Panthers and 69 members of AIM (and subjected countless others to the slow death of incarceration). If it be abroad or on the home front, the American secret police has been extremely proactive in beating down the movements of people rising up, thereby protecting and preserving the main pillars of white supremacist, capitalist aristocracy.

Rather than blindly believing in a golden age of democracy in order to remain at all costs within the gilded cage of an ideology produced specifically for us by the well-paid spin-doctors of a plutocratic oligarchy, we should unlock the gates of history and meticulously scrutinize the founding and evolution of the American imperial republic. This will not only allow us to take leave of its jingoist and self-congratulatory origin myths, but it will also provide us with the opportunity to resuscitate and reactivate so much of what they have sought to obliterate. In particular, there is a radical America just below the surface of these nationalist narratives, an America in which the population autonomously organizes itself in indigenous and ecological activism, black radical resistance, anti-capitalist mobilization, anti-patriarchal struggles, and so forth. It is this America that the corporate republic has sought to eradicate, while simultaneously investing in an expansive public relations campaign to cover over its crimes with the fig leaf of “democracy” (which has sometimes required integrating a few token individuals, who appear to be from below, into the elite ruling class in order to perpetuate the all-powerful myth of meritocracy). If we are astute and perspicacious enough to recognize that the U.S. is undemocratic today, let us not be so indolent or ill-informed that we let ourselves be lulled to sleep by lullabies praising its halcyon past. Indeed, if the United States is not a democracy today, it is in large part due to the fact that it never was one. Far from being a pessimistic conclusion, however, it is precisely by cracking open the hard shell of ideological encasement that we can tap into the radical forces that have been suppressed by it. These forces—not those that have been deployed to destroy them—should be the ultimate source of our pride in the power of the people.

More articles by: Gabriel Rockhill

Gabriel Rockhill is a Franco-American philosopher and cultural critic. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and founding Director of the Atelier de Théorie Critique at the Sorbonne. His books include Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy (2017), Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (2016), Radical History & the Politics of Art (2014) and Logique de l’histoire (2010). In addition to his scholarly work, he has been actively engaged in extra-academic activities in the art and activist worlds, as well as a regular contributor to public intellectual debate. Follow on twitter: @GabrielRockhill

Reproduced from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/13/the-u-s-is-not-a-democracy-it-never-was/

 on: December 03, 2017, 10:10:14 AM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
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 on: November 05, 2017, 01:31:20 PM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
By Peggy McInerny
UCLA International Institute, October 16, 2017

Many people make a distinction between African American Studies and African Studies. UCLA sociocultural anthropologist Jemima Pierre is not one of them.

“The intellectual approach to Africa and its diaspora bifurcated in the 1960s,” she explains. At that time, an explosion of U.S. government (and foundation) funding for area studies led to the creation of many African Studies centers in American universities. Before that, African Studies was primarily carried out by historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). With the exception of Howard University, these schools were not initial recipients of U.S. government funding. “The two fields are not necessarily distinct because of the historical continuities between Africa and its diaspora,” she observes, “so this split was a political as well as an epistemological issue.”

Pierre joined UCLA in 2014 with a dual appointment to the anthropology and African American Studies departments. In summer 2016, she became the chair of the African Studies M.A. Program of the UCLA International Institute, where she is also associate director of the African Studies Center.

A city dweller who has lived all over the United States — in Miami, New Orleans, Austin, Charlottesville, Washington, DC, and Nashville — she loves Los Angeles. “We’re very happy to live here,” she says of her family. “Los Angeles reminds me of Miami [where she grew up] — except it's not hot and humid — it cools down every night,” she remarks.

Race, “racialization” and the colonial enterprise

Pierre completed her B.A. at Tulane University and her Ph.D. at the University of Texas-Austin. She began her doctoral research focused on the experience of postcolonial African immigrants in the United States — who, she points out, are among the country’s most educated immigrant groups. When interviewing these immigrants about their experiences, she repeatedly heard, “I didn’t know I was black until I came to the United States.”

So Pierre set out to see if that was true by exploring how race shapes the identities of Ghanaians in West Africa. She conducted her ethnographic research in Ghana because she knew the country well, having spent a semester there in a study abroad program as an undergraduate, and then close to a year on a fellowship after graduation.

“Part of the problem is that Ghanaians — and many others — see ‘race’ as meaning U.S.-style segregation, racism and police brutality,” remarks Pierre. “Race is confused with blatant Jim Crow racism.

"But similar to most people, including those who live in the U.S., they don't see race as a historical process, as ‘racialization,’" she continues, "where people are continuously differentiated based on presumed biological and cultural differences, and treated accordingly.”

In “The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race” (University of Chicago, 2012), the UCLA anthropologist and Black Studies scholar argues that race is significant and that processes of racialization are ongoing even in a place such as Ghana. Her research attributes their continued significance to the long history of the European-led slave trade in Africans, followed by colonialism. Both helped create ideas about racial difference, that is, about "blackness," "whiteness," etc.

The book examines how everyday Ghanaians associate whiteness with intelligence, education and development; link light skin to ideas of beauty and enhanced success; and practice skin bleaching. The Ghanaian capital Accra was even restructured by the British colonial government using strict Jim Crow lines of segregation, with white areas and “native” areas complete with their own hospitals (and attendant unequal resources).

At the same time, the book shows how identification with people of African descent is another way that racialization occurs in Ghana. Ghana is known as one of the Pan-African centers of the African continent, with its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, asserting a Pan-Africanist nationalism at independence. Nkrumah linked the freedom of Ghana to the struggles of blacks on the African continent and in the African diaspora.

“I'm not saying race is the same everywhere,” comments Pierre, “but there are processes of racialization on the African continent and in the Americas, and these histories are related and continuous. This is why African immigrants are treated a particular way — they're treated like ‘black’ people unless they are otherwise [identified].” As an exchange student in Accra, she notes, she did not receive the preferential treatment given to her white peers because people thought she was Ghanaian. As a Haitian immigrant to the U.S., she herself encountered a different kind of “blackness” for the first time. “Throughout my childhood, I thought that all black people were Haitian,” she laughed.

“What I've found out by traveling to Ghana — first of all, by being from Haiti and coming to the U.S. as a black immigrant, then traveling in different spaces as a black person and seeing the way I was treated in Africa, in Europe, in South America — is that racialization is a historical process and it is global,” comments Pierre. The process of racialization erased all the cultural and ethnic nuances of the identities of enslaved Africans in the Americas, she explains, and assigned them a race: black. Colonialism is simply “a continuation of slavery,” she continues. “It's a racializing project that creates ‘the Europeans’ against ‘the Native’ [African].”

In the course of research for her book, Pierre also examined how racialized categories influence economic life in Ghana. Her conclusion: decolonization in Africa has been political, not economic. The colonial economic structures remain in place and perpetuate a racialized system of economic power and opportunity in West Africa, particularly in the extractive industries.

These three interrelated topics — the ways in which ideas of race inform African and African diaspora identities, African immigrants in the U.S, and the racialized structure of global capitalism — have become the central focus of Pierre’s research. At present, she is conducting research on separate books on the latter two subjects, while finishing a manuscript on the ways in which the concept of race has shaped the external narrative about Africa.

Commissioned by Routledge, this third book (expected out in late 2018) looks at such topics as how Europeans constructed a “white” identity for Egyptian civilization following Napoleon’s invasion of the country, the use of “Sub-Saharan Africa” as a racialized epithet for “Black Africa” and the repugnant Hamitic Hypothesis of C. G. Seligman (which attributed the more developed civilizations of North Africa to the influence and assistance of white people).

Full article: http://www.international.ucla.edu/institute/academics/article/182888

 on: November 05, 2017, 12:19:27 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
SOURCE: http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/india.html

One of the foremost tasks for contemporary African centered scholars is to provide an historical overview of the global African community. This is a critical task that must be completed in its entirety. This includes the history, culture and present condition of African people both at home and abroad. We are already aware, it should be pointed out, based on recent scientific studies of DNA, that modern humanity originated in Africa, that African people are the world’s aboriginal people and that all modern humans can ultimately trace their ancestral roots back to Africa. If not for the primordial migrations of early African people, humanity would have remained physically Africoid, and the rest of the world outside of the African continent absent of human life. This is our starting point.

Since the first modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) were of African birth, the African presence globally can be demonstrated through the history of the Black populations that have inhabited the world within the span of recent humanity. Not only are African people the aboriginal people of the planet, however, there is abundant evidence to show that Black people created and sustained many of the world’s earliest and most enduring civilizations. Such was the case in India.

The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental answers.


Exceptionally valuable writings reflecting close relationships between Africa and early India have existed for more than two thousand years. In the first century B.C.E., for example, the famous Greek historian Diodorus Siculus penned that, “From Ethiopia he (Osiris) passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red Sea as far as India…. He built many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have remembrance of that (Nysa) in Egypt, where he was brought up.”

Another important writer from antiquity, Apollonius of Tyana, who is said to have visited India near the end of the first century C.E., was convinced that “The Ethiopians are colonists sent from India, who follow their forefathers in matters of wisdom.” The literary work of the early Christian writer Eusebius preserves the tradition that, “In the reign of Amenophis III [the mighty Dynasty XVIII Egyptian king] a body of Ethiopians migrated from the country about the Indus, and settled in the valley of the Nile.” And still another document from ancient times, the Itinerarium Alexandri, says that “India, taken as a whole, beginning from the north and embracing what of it is subject to Persia, is a continuation of Egypt and the Ethiopians.”


In Greater India, more than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as Dravidians erected a powerful civilization. We are referring here to the Indus Valley civilization- -India’s earliest high-culture, with major cities spread out along the course of the Indus River. The Indus Valley civilization was at its height from about 2200 B.C.E. to 1700 B.C.E. This phase of its history is called the Harappan, the name being derived from Harappa, one of the earliest known Indus Valley cities.

In 1922, about 350 miles northeast of Harappa, another large Indus city, Mohenjo-daro (the Mound of the Dead) was identified. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were apparently the chief administrative centers of the Indus Valley complex, and since their identification, several additional cities, including Chanhu-daro, Kalibangan, Quetta and Lothal have been excavated.

The Indus cities possessed multiple level houses enhanced by sophisticated wells, drainage systems and bathrooms with flushing toilets. A recognized scholar on the Indus Valley civilization, Dr. Walter Fairservis, states that the “Harappans cultivated cotton and perhaps rice, domesticated the chicken and may have invented the game of chess and one of the two great early sources of nonmuscle power: the windmill.”

The decline and fall of the Indus Valley civilization has been linked to several factors, the most important of which were the increasingly frequent incursions of the White people known in history as Aryans–violent Indo-European tribes initially from central Eurasia and later Iran. Indeed, the name Iran means the “land of the Aryan.”


The White tribes that invaded India and disrupted Black civilization there are known as Aryans.  The Aryans were not necessarily superior warriors to the Blacks but they were aggressive, developed sophisticated military technologies and glorified military virtues.  After hundreds of years of intense martial conflict the Aryans succeeded in subjugating most of northern India.  Throughout the vanquished territories a rigid, caste-segmented social order was established with the masses of conquered Blacks (called Shudras) essentially reduced to slaves to the Whites and imposed upon for service in any capacity required by their White conquerors.  This vicious new world order was cold-bloodily racist, with the Whites on top, the mixed races in the middle, and the overwhelming majority of Black people on the very bottom.  In fact, the Aryan term varna, denoting one’s societal status and used interchangeably with caste, literally means color or complexion and reflects a prevalent racial hierarchy. Truly, India is still a racist country.  White supremacist David Duke claimed “that his 1970’s visit to India was a turning point in his views on the superiority of the White race.”

Caste law in India, based originally on race, regulated all aspects of life, including marriage, diet, education, place of residence and occupation.  This is not to deny that there were certain elements of the Black aristocracy that managed to gain prominence in the dominant White social structure.  The masses of conquered Black people, however, were regarded by the Whites as Untruth itself.  The Whites claimed to have emerged from the mouth of God; the Blacks, on the other hand, were said to have emerged from the feet of God.  This was the ugly reality for the Black masses in conquered India.  It was written that:

    “A Sudra who intentionally reviles twice-born men [Whites] by criminal abuse, or criminally assaults them with blows, shall be deprived of the limb with which he offends.  If he has criminal intercourse with an Aryan woman, his organ shall be cut off, and all his property confiscated.  If the woman has a protector, the Sudra shall be executed.  If he listens intentionally to a recitation of the Veda [a traditional Hindu religious text], his tongue shall be cut out.  If he commits them to memory his body shall be split in half.”

Servitude to Whites became the basis of the lives of the Black people of India for generation after generation after generation.  With the passage of time, this brutally harsh, color-oriented, racially-based caste system became the foundation of the religion that is now practiced throughout all India.  This is the religion known as Hinduism.


Buddhism appeared in India during the sixth century B.C.E. and came in the form of a protest against Hinduism.  Buddhism opposed the arrogance of caste, and preached tolerance.  It should not be surprising, then, that it developed a large and rapid following in the regions of India where the Blacks had survived in substantial numbers.  On the emergence of Buddhism in India, Diop has suggested that:

    “It would seem that Buddha was an Egyptian priest, chased from Memphis by the persecution of Cambyses.  This tradition would justify the portrayal of Buddha with woolly hair.  Historical documents do not invalidate this tradition…There is general agreement today on placing in the sixth century not only Buddha but the whole religious and philosophical movement in Asia with Confucius in China, Zoroaster in Iran.  This would confirm the hypothesis of a dispersion of Egyptian priests at that time spreading their doctrine in Asia.”

Dr. Vulindlela Wobogo, another African-centric scholar, has observed that:

    “Manifestations of the Buddha in Asia are Black with woolly hair.  They all appear to be Egypto-Nubian priests who fled Egypt…The priests carried their spiritual knowledge but lost much of the scientific knowledge for obvious reasons.  The well-known aspects of Buddhism and its companion, yoga, are all simply Egypto-Nubian priesthood practices, meditation, and…the belief that one could attain a god-like state if the soul was liberated from the body through knowledge and denial.”

In a monumental two volume work entitled A Book of the Beginnings, originally published in 1881, Gerald Massey recorded that:

    “It is not necessary to show that the first colonisers of India were Black, but it is certain that the Black Buddha of India was imaged in the Africoid type.  In the Black [African] god, whether called Buddha or Sut-Nahsi, we have a datum.  they carry in their color the proof of their origin.  The people who first fashioned and worshipped the divine image in the Africoid mold of humanity must, according to all knowledge of human nature, have been Africans themselves.  For the Blackness is not merely mystical, the features and the hair of Buddha belong to the Black race.”

In the first volume of his massive text Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins wrote that:

    “The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient.  In the most ancient temples scattered through Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips and curly hair of the African.”


Possibly the most substantial percentage of Asia’s Blacks can be identified among India’s 160 million “Untouchables” or “Dalits.” Frequently they are called “Outcastes.”  Indian nationalist leader and devout Hindu Mohandas K. Gandhi called them “Harijans,” meaning “children of god.”  The official name given them in India’s constitution (1951) is “Scheduled Castes.”  “Dalit,” meaning “crushed and broken,” is a name that has come into prominence only within the last four decades. “Dalit” reflects a radically different response to oppression.

The Dalit are demonstrating a rapidly expanding awareness of their African ancestry and their relationship to the struggle of Black people throughout the world. They seem particularly enamored of African-Americans.  African-Americans, in general, seem almost idolized by the Dalit, and the Black Panther Party, in particular, is virtually revered. In April 1972, for example, the Dalit Panther Party was formed in Bombay, India. This organization takes its pride and inspiration directly from the Black Panther Party of the United States.  This is a highly important development due to the fact that the Untouchables have historically been so systematically terrorized that many of them, even today, live in a perpetual state of extreme fear of their upper caste oppressors.  This is especially evident in the villages.  The formation of the Dalit Panthers and the corresponding philosophy that accompanies it signals a fundamental change in the annals of resistance, and  Dalit Panther organizations have subsequently spread to other parts of India.  In August 1972, the Dalit Panthers announced that the 25th anniversary of Indian independence would be celebrated as a day of mourning.  In 1981, in Bangalore, India Dravidian journalist V.T. Rajshekar published the first issue of Dalit Voice–the major English journal of the Black Untouchables.  In a 1987 publication entitled the African Presence in Early Asia, Rajshekar stated that:

    “The African-Americans also must know that their liberation struggle cannot be complete as long as their own blood-brothers and sisters living in far off Asia are suffering.  It is true that African-Americans are also suffering, but our people here today are where African-Americans were two hundred years ago.

African-American leaders can give our struggle tremendous support by bringing forth knowledge of the existence of such a huge chunk of Asian Blacks to the notice of both the American Black masses and the Black masses who dwell within the African continent itself.”…


India also received its share of African bondsmen, of whom the most famous was the celebrated Malik Ambar (1550-1626).  Ambar, like a number of Africans in medieval India, elevated himself to a position of great authority.  Malik Ambar, whose original name was Shambu, was born around 1550 in Harar, Ethiopia.  After his arrival in India Ambar was able to raise a formidable army and achieve great power in the west Indian realm of Ahmadnagar.  Ambar was a brilliant diplomat and administrator. He encouraged manufactures and built canals and mosques.  He gave pensions to poets and scholars, established a postal service, and ultimately became one of the most famous men in India.

In a collective form, however, and in respect to long term influence, the African sailors known as Siddis stand out.  Certainly, Siddi kingdoms were established in western India in Janjira and Jaffrabad as early as 1100 AD.  After their conversion to Islam, the African freedmen of India, originally called Habshi from the Arabic, called themselves Sayyad (descendants of Muhammad) and were consequently called Siddis. Indeed, the island Janjira was formerly called Habshan, meaning Habshan’s or African’s land.  Siddi signifies lord or prince.  It is further said that Siddi is an expression of respectful address commonly used in North Africa, like Sahib in India.  Specifically, it is said to be an honorific title given to the descendants of African natives in the west of India, some of whom were distinguished military officers and administrators of the Muslim princes of the Deccan.

In the second decade of the sixteenth century a European traveler named Armando Cortesao noted that:

    “The people who govern the kingdom [Bengal] are Abyssinians [Ethiopians].  These men are looked upon as knights; they are greatly esteemed; they wait on the kings in their apartments.  The chief among them are eunuchs and these come to be kings and great lords in the kingdom.  Those who are not eunuchs are the fighting men.  After the king, it is to this people that the kingdom is obedient from fear.”

The Siddis were a tightly knit group, highly aggressive, and even ferocious in battle.  They were employed largely as security forces for Muslim fleets in the Indian Ocean, a position they maintained for centuries.  The Siddi commanders were titled Admirals of the Mughal Empire, and received an annual salary of 300,000 rupees.  According to Ibn Battuta (1304-1377), the noted Muslim writer who journeyed through both Africa and Asia, the Siddis “are the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean; let there be but one of them on a ship and it will be avoided by the Indian pirates and idolaters.”

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 on: November 04, 2017, 11:58:31 PM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Dr. Clyde Winters
October 09, 2006

Ethiopians have had very intimate relations with Indians. In fact, in antiquity the Ethiopians ruled much of India. These Ethiopians were called the Naga. It was the Naga who created Sanskrit.

A reading of ancient Dravidian literature which dates back to 500 BC, gives us considerable information on the Naga. In Indian tradition the Naga won central India from the Villavar (bowmen) and Minavar (fishermen).

The Naga were great seamen who ruled much of India, Sri Lanka and Burma. To the Aryans they described as half man and snake. The Tamil knew them as warlike people who used the bow and noose.

The earliest mention of the Naga, appear in the Ramayana, they are also mentioned in the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata we discover that the Naga had the capital city in the Dekkan, and other cities spread between the Jumna and Ganges as early as 1300 BC. The Dravidian classic, the Chilappathikaran made it clear that the first great kingdom of India was Naganadu.

The Naga probably came from Kush-Punt/Ethiopia. The Puntites were the greatest sailors of the ancient world. In the Egyptian inscriptions there is mention of the Puntite ports of Outculit, Hamesu and Tekaru, which corresponds to Adulis, Hamasen and Tigre.

In Sumerian text, it is claimed that the Puntites traded with the people of the Indus Valley or Dilmun. According to S.N. Kramer in The Sumerians, part of Punt was probably called Meluhha, and Dilmun was probably the ancient name of the Indus Valley. (Today some scholars maintain that Oman, where we find no ancient cities was Dilmun and the Indus Valley may have been Meluhha).

Ancient Ethiopian traditions support the rule of Puntites or Ethiopians of India. In the Kebra Nagast, we find mention of the Arwe kings who ruled India. The founder of the dynasty was Za Besi Angabo. This dynasty according to the Kebra Nagast began around 1370 BC. These rulers of India and Ethiopia were called Nagas. The Kebra Nagast claims that "Queen Makeda had servants and merchants; they traded for her at sea and on land in the Indies and Aswan". It also says that her son Ebna Hakim or Menelik I, "made a campaign in the Indian Sea; the king of India made gifts and donations and prostrated himself before him". It is also said that "Menalik ruled an empire that extended from the rivers of Egypt (Blue Nile) to the west and from the south Shoa to eastern India", according to the Kebra Nagast. The Kebra Nagast identification of an eastern Indian empre ruled by the Naga, corresponds to the Naga colonies in the Dekkan, and on the East coast between the Kaviri and Vaigai rivers.

The presence of Meluhhaites/ Puntites in India may expain the Greek tradition of Kusites ruling India up to the Ganges. It would also explain the Aryan traditions of Mlechchas (Sanskrit name for some of the non-Aryan people) as one of the aboriginal groups of India. Many scholars associate the name Mlechchas with Meluhha.

The major Naga tribes were the Maravar, Eyinar, Oliyar, Oviyar, Aru-Valur and Parathavar. The Nagas resisted the invansion of the Cholas. In the Kalittokai IV,1-5, the Naga are described as being "of strong limbs and hardy frames and fierce looking tigers wearing long and curled locks of hair." The Naga kings of Sri Lanka are mentioned in the: Mahawanso, and are said to have later become Dravidians, as testified to by the names of these people: Naganathan, Nagaratnam, Nagaraja and etc.

The major gift of the Naga to India was the writing system: Nagari. Nagari is the name for the Sanskrit script. Over a hundred years ago Sir William Jones, pointed out that the ancient Ethiopic and Sanskrit writing are one and the same.

William Jones, explained that the Ethiopian origin of Sanskrit was supported by the fact that both writing systems the writing went from left to right and the vowels were annexed to the consonants. Today Eurocentric scholars teach that Indians taught writing to the Ethiopians, yet the name Nagari for Sanskrit betrays the Ethiopia origin of this form of writing. Moreover, it is interesting to note that Sanskrit vowels: a,aa,',I,u,e,o, virama etc., are in the same order as Geez.

The Ethiopian script has influenced many other writing systems. Y.M. Kobishnor, in the Unesco History of Africa, maintains that Ethiopic was used as the model for Armenian writing, as was many of the Transcaucasian scripts. Dravidian literature indicate that the Naga may have introduced worship of Kali, the Serpent, Murugan and the Sun or Krishna. It is interesting to note that a god called Murugan is worshipped by many people in East Africa.

It is interesting that Krishna, who was associated with the Sun, means Black, this is analogous to the meaning of Khons of the Kushites. Homer, described Hercules as follows: "Black he stood as night his bow uncased, his arrow string for flight". This mention of arrows identifies the Kushites as warriors who used the bow, a common weapon of the Kushites and the Naga.


The Naga or Ethiopians were defeated by Dravidian speaking people from Kumarinadu. Kamarinadu is suppose to have formerly existed as a large Island in the India ocean which connected India with East Africa. This landmass is mentioned in the Silappadikaram, which said that Kamarinadu was made up of seven nadus or regions. The Dravidian scholars Adiyarkunallar and Nachinaar wrote about the ancient principalities of Tamilaham, which existed on Kamarinadu.

Kumarinadu was ruled by the Pandyans/Pandians at Madurai before it sunk beneath the sea. The greatest king of Kumarinadu was Sengoon.

According to Dravidian scholars the Pandyans worshipped the goddess Kumari Amman. This Amman, probably corresponds to the ancient god Amon of the Kushites.

The Kalittokai 104, makes it clear that after the Pandyans were forced to migrate off their Island home into South India, "to compensate for the area lost to the great waves of the sea, King Pandia without tiresome moved to the other countries and won them. Removing the emblems of tiger (Cholas) and bow (Cheras) he, in their place inscribed his reputed emblem fish (Pandia's) and valiantly made his enemies bow to him."


Also Read:

Africans in India: From slaves to reformers and rulers

African rulers of India: That part of our history we choose to forget
The elite status of the African slaves in India ensured that a number of them had access to political authority and secrets which they could make use of to become rulers in their own right, reigning over parts of India.

Africans in India: Pictures that Speak of a Forgotten History


 on: October 29, 2017, 07:46:00 AM 
Started by Historysoul - Last post by Iniko Ujaama
My question  is since so many of the regions that should be given reparations are run by corrupt governments and bureaucracies,how can we trust it will actually have a meaningful impact on the countries.

Indeed, most of those governments who are currently calling for reparations have not shown themselves to be trustworthy, particularly when it comes to addressing such issues. There for you are right in questioning whether people should put their trust in the idea that they will use these funds toward meaningful moves toward addressing the prejudices and racial injustice within their societies. I do not much reason to trust that they will independently do so. They should however be held accountable for having sought and accepted payments for reparations on behalf of those affected by this history and the resultant corrupt system.

If somehow these European colonizers do decide to give reparations , who will be responsible for overseeing that it actually benefits the population?

Unless otherwise is decided after reparations is paid it would be administered by the governments who sought it.

What will the reparations be used for e.g. to improve education,housing,healthcare,who will we give the reparations to in the population?Who will have a leading say in deciding how it is used?

What reparations is ultimately used for will depend on what these government decide. For anything meaningful to come of it, it would be important for the experiences of those worst affected be an integral part of determining what is to be done with these funds and the issues and priorities to be addressed.

 on: October 23, 2017, 10:04:32 PM 
Started by Historysoul - Last post by Historysoul
I have been observing all the recent calls for reparations within the Caribbean and even African countries  as a form of atonement .Now I am for the reparations movement because many regions have been put in a perpetual state of under development due to centuries of exploitation at the hands of European colonizers. My question  is since so many of the regions that should be given reparations are run by corrupt governments and bureaucracies,how can we trust it will actually have a meaningful impact on the countries.If somehow these European colonizers do decide to give reparations , who will be responsible for overseeing that it actually benefits the population?
What will the reparations be used for e.g. to improve education,housing,healthcare,who will we give the reparations to in the population?Who will have a leading say in deciding how it is used?All these questions cause me to ponder how exactly do we tackle the approach to dealing with reparations.To me reparations goes beyond money,I think it sets a presidency for future generations to come.However I find it very real that if reparations if given it may fall into corrupt hands and end back up in the same hands that gave it.

 on: October 22, 2017, 08:03:44 AM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
Colonization, Food, and the Practice of Eating

The violence that accompanied the European colonization of the Indigenous people of Mesoamerica is a well-known fact. Historians have elaborated on the devastating effects such colonization had on Indigenous societies, cultures, and mortality. While the study of the conquest has generally focused on the social, political, and economic changes forced upon Indigenous populations, the matter of food—the very source of survival—is rarely considered. Yet, food was a principal tool of colonization. Arguably, one cannot properly understand colonization without taking into account the issue of food and eating.

Imagine that you are a Spaniard, newly arrived on the coasts of a foreign land. Your survival depends on two things: security (protecting yourself from danger) and nourishment (food and other substances that are necessary for survival). In terms of the former, Europeans arrived on the coast of what is now referred to as “the Americas” fully equipped with the means to protect themselves. Atop horses, armed with advanced weaponry and a slew of European diseases, Spaniards engaged Indigenous populations in the most violent of ways. Nourishment, however, was another matter.

When Spaniards arrived in Mesoamerica, they encountered the Maya, Aztecs and other prominent Indigenous groups. The land was rich, fertile, and filled with crops such as beans, pumpkins, chilies, avocados, elderberries, guavas, papayas, tomatoes, cocoa, cotton, tobacco, henequen, indigo, maguey, corn, and cassava.[1] Europeans encountered similar agricultural plantations throughout the region. However, to the colonists this food was substandard and unacceptable for the proper nourishment of European bodies. At the time of conquest, the European diet was principally composed of bread, olive oil, olives, “meat,” and wine. While this diet was somewhat sustained on the actual voyage from Europe to the Americas, upon arrival, Europeans found themselves devoid of the foods they considered necessary for survival. As Europeans began dying off in these “new” lands, the focus of concern shifted to food. In fact, Columbus himself was convinced that Spaniards were dying because they lacked “healthful European foods.”[2] Herein began the colonial discourse of “right foods” (superior European foods) vs. “wrong foods” (inferior Indigenous foods). The Spaniards considered that without the “right foods,” they would die or, even worse, in their minds, they would become like Indigenous people.

The “Right Foods” vs. the “Wrong Foods”

Europeans believed that food shaped the colonial body. In other words, the European constitution differed from that of Indigenous people because the Spanish diet differed from the Indigenous diet. Further, bodies could be altered by diets—thus the fear that by consuming “inferior” Indigenous foods, Spaniards would eventually become “like them.” Only proper European foods would maintain the superior nature of European bodies, and only these “right foods” would be able to protect colonizers from the challenges posed by the “new world” and its unfamiliar environments.

In the minds of Europeans, food not only functioned to maintain the bodily superiority of Spaniards, it also played a role in the formation of social identity. For example, in Spain, elites generally consumed bread, “meat,” and wine. The poor in Spain, however, could not afford such luxuries and instead ate such things as barley, oats, rye, and vegetable stew. Even vegetables were classified based on social status; for example, in some cases rooted vegetables were not considered suitable for elite consumption because they grew underground. Elites preferred to consume food that came from trees, elevated from the filth of the common world. Thus, food served as an indicator of class.

In addition, at the time of conquest, Spain was facing internal divisions of its own. In an effort to expel Spanish Muslims, as well as Jewish people, from Spain, King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I relaunched what was known as the Reconquista, the re-conquest of Spain. As a strong Spanish identity formed around the idea of the Reconquista, food became a powerful symbol of Spanish culture. For instance, consider “pork”: Among Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic people, only Catholics could eat “pork,” since for Muslim and Jewish people, the consumption of “pork” was forbidden. During the re-conquest, as individuals were being forced to prove that they were pureblooded Spaniards, they would often be offered “pork” to eat. Any refusal to consume “pork” would be taken as a sign that such people were not true Catholic Spaniards and would subsequently be expelled from Spain, persecuted, or even killed.

As the Spanish arrived in the “new world” and initiated the European colonization of the Americas, they also brought with them the notion of cultural and class based distinctions that were founded on the types of food people ate. For example, upon their arrival, the Spaniards determined that guinea pig “meat” was a fundamentally “Indian” food, thus anyone who consumed guinea pig was considered “Indian.” The same was true for other staple Indigenous foods, such as maize and beans. The Spanish considered such Indigenous fare “famine foods,”[3] fit for consumption only if all other “right foods” had been thoroughly exhausted.

The symbolic nature of food was also seen in the imposition of religion, another destructive aspect of the conquest. The Eucharist, the holiest rite among Catholics, was composed of a wafer made of wheat, which signified the body of Christ, and wine, which signified the blood of Christ. Initially, before wheat was harvested in the Americas, it was difficult to obtain wheat from abroad, since much of it spoiled in transit. The wafers that were necessary for this rite could easily have been made from the native maize, but Spaniards believed that this inferior Indigenous plant could not be transformed into the literal body of Christ, as could European wheat. Similarly, only wine made from grapes was acceptable for the sacrament. Any potential substitute was considered blasphemy.

If Spaniards and their culture were to survive in these foreign lands, they would need to have readily available sources of the “right food.” Often, as Spanish officials reported back to the crown on the suitability of newly conquered lands, the “lack of Spanish food” was mentioned. Frustrated with what the “new world” had to offer, Tomas Lopez Medel, a Spanish official, reported that, “…there was neither wheat, nor grapevines, nor any proper animal…” present in the new colonies.[4] Hearing this, the Crown commissioned a number of reports that were to elaborate on which European plants grew well in the colonized lands, as well as details as to where they grew best. It was soon determined that the most suitable arrangement would be for colonists to grow their own foods, and it was not long before Spaniards began to rearrange agriculture to meet their own needs. Although wheat, wine, and olives only thrived in certain regions of Latin America, the Spaniards considered this a success. Colonists were elated that their own foods were successfully growing in foreign lands, and while crops were important, the Europeans’ most significant success was with farmed animals, which thrived in ways that were unparalleled.

The Arrival of Cows, Pigs, Goats, and Sheep

A number of domesticated animals were present when Europeans arrived in what is now known as Latin America. Among them were dogs, llamas and alpacas, guinea pigs, turkeys, Muscovy ducks, and a type of chicken. In Mesoamerica, any “meat” and leather that was consumed or utilized usually came from wild game, and generally, there were no animals exploited for labor, with the exception of dogs, who were at times used for hauling.. Europeans considered this lack of proper animals for work and consumption unacceptable. Thus, the first contingent of horses, dogs, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats arrived with Columbus’ second voyage in 1493.[5] The arrival of these hoofed immigrants would fundamentally alter Indigenous ways of life forever.

To begin, considering the domesticated animals who existed in Latin America prior to the conquest, these imported animals had little to no predators to deal with. These animals did not succumb to any new diseases, and food sources for these animals were vast. The Spanish literally left the animals to feed on any of the rich grasses, fruits, and other food they could find in these new lands. With a plethora of food and no real threats to their existence, these animals reproduced at astonishingly rapid rates. By the 17th century, herds of cows, pigs, sheep, and goats numbered in the hundreds of thousands and roamed throughout the entire continent. As a result, “meat” prices plummeted and the consumption of “meat” exponentially increased. In Spain, the consumption of “meat” was a luxury, but in the “new world,” the sheer availability of these animals made this luxury accessible to all. This point in time marked the commodification of these animals in the Americas, a natural consequence of which was an ever-expanding “meat” industry. In fact, at this time, “livestock” ranches were so well established and were producing such large quantities of domesticated-animal “meat” that almost everyone was consuming substantial amounts of animal protein. Eating “meat” was considered an economic benefit of keeping animals, but it wasn’t the only one. Records also show an increase in dairy consumption, as well as lard as a replacement for the traditional use of olive oil in colonial cooking. In addition, the demand for “hides” and “tallow” (often used for candles) was even greater than the demand for “meat.”

The most devastating consequence of this new “meat” industry was that its extraordinary proliferation was accompanied by an equally extraordinary decline in Indigenous populations. Spaniards anxious to establish the “right foods” to ensure their own survival delineated large sections of lands for grazing, with no regard for the way the land was being used prior to their arrival. These vast herds often wandered onto Indigenous croplands, destroying their primary means of subsistence. The situation became so severe that in a letter to the Crown, a Spanish official wrote, “May your lordship realize that if cattle are allowed, the Indians will be destroyed…”[6] Initially, many Indigenous people in this region became malnourished, which consequently weakened their resistance to European diseases. Others literally starved to death as their agricultural plots were trampled, consumed by animals or appropriated for Spanish crops. In time, many Indigenous people, left with limited options, began to consume European foods.

As devastating as this was, it is important to note that Indigenous populations in the “Americas” did not passively deal with this change. There are a number of clearly documented instances in which Indigenous people, during the process of colonization, specifically resisted European foods. For instance, in North America, the Pueblo people launched a revolt against the Spaniards in which Spanish food was a primary target. During this rebellion a Pueblo leader was said to have ordered the people to “…burn the seeds which the Spaniards sowed and to plant only maize and beans, which were the crops of their ancestors.”[7] Although resistance to European culture was not uncommon, in time, Indigenous people went on to adopt many European foods into their diet. Similarly, many colonists eventually went on to incorporate Indigenous foods into their daily eating.

Food Acculturation in the “New World”

Several factors contributed to the acculturation of food of both Indigenous people and Europeans in the “new world.”

First, in the process of colonization, Europeanization was rewarded. Initially, conversion to Catholicism and the adoption of Spanish culture, customs, and beliefs was a forced matter. In time, the Spanish attempted other methods for converting Indigenous people to their way of life. For example, priests attempting to convert young Indigenous men to Catholicism would offer them “livestock” in return for their conversion.[8] Owning “livestock” was attractive: animals were a source of income, and consuming such animals was a sign of elevated status, by Spanish standards. Since food was an indicator of status and Indigenous people could enhance their status with colonists by taking on Spanish culture, many Indigenous people adopted Spanish practices, cuisine included, as a way of securing a higher status in colonial society.[9]

Another important factor that shaped the adoption of European foods into Indigenous diets was related to the role of women in colonial society. An integral part of colonization was carried out through Iberian women who arrived shortly after their men settled in the “new world.” As Spanish settlers began the task of establishing structured colonies, the Crown was made aware of wanton behavior taking root in their new lands. Spanish men were said to be out at all hours of the night, frolicking with different women, displaying drunkenness and disorder in the streets of new Spain. The Crown determined that logically, this behavior was the consequence of men left to their own devices without their wives to maintain the structure of family and civility. Thus, the Crown demanded that Iberian women be sent to join their husbands in order to civilize society in the “new world.” As these women arrived, Spanish households were reunified and Iberian women began to solidify the role of the Spanish family in the colonies. This reunification of Spanish families paralleled the destruction of the Indigenous household, as many Indigenous women were forced into working as domestic workers, cooks, nannies, and wet-nurses in Spanish homes. Part of the role of these Indigenous women was to learn to cook European foods and reproduce colonial practices in the home; Iberian women were present to make sure it was done properly. The presence of Spanish women was meant to provide an example of how a “civilized” woman looked and behaved, and much of this “civilization” took place in the kitchen. If Indigenous women were to reproduce Spanish cooking—the source of superior Spanish bodies—they would need to be instructed by a Spanish woman who could teach them how to make “civilized” food. Thus, many Indigenous women began reproducing Spanish cuisine as a result of their new role in the European household. However, there is also documentation of the introduction of Indigenous foods and cooking practices into European diets. This was a consequence not only of Indigenous women working in Spanish households, but also a result of mestizas who married Spanish men and began integrating aspects of their mixed heritage into these mixed households. For example, the use of the comal is markedly Indigenous, yet archeological records indicate that it was used in most Spanish households. Also, we see Indigenous variations in cooking with, for instance, the use of chili. Europeans accepted the use of chili in their food since it was similar to pepper. This similarity allowed for its widespread acceptance among Europeans. Alterations to Spanish diets were most common during times of famine, where famine meant a lack of Spanish foods. During these times, Indigenous cooks would prepare indigenous foods, which Spaniards would be forced to consume. For Indigenous people, Spanish cuisine was a principal reason that colonists were intent on acquiring the lands on which they produced their own food. Thus, for Indigenous people, the struggle was in maintaining their own cuisine while understanding that, for pragmatic reasons, they had to adopt new foods.

Lastly, as noted above, the mere availability of food for consumption began to alter eating practices. The land that previously served to nourish indigenous communities was now organized to meet the need for raw materials necessary for export.  Yet the Spanish crown was careful to control local Spanish authority so as to not allow any conquistador to acquire a disproportionate amount of power. In order to control this, the crown allowed some land to be preserved for subsistence cultivation of indigenous communities. On this land communities were allowed to collectively grow what they needed for their daily subsistence. However, this was not an altruistic move on behalf of the crown; it was a calculated attempt to maintain their grasp on local power. As time went on, the crown suffered a series of economic shortages, and when such shortages economically affected the crown, they set their eyes on communal lands, which they then deemed should be used to meet the needs of international trade rather than those of the indigenous community.  As European needs expanded, indigenous communal lands turned into large plantations, or haciendas, and their production was now directly tied to the demands of European markets. Slowly but surely these haciendas came under the private control of those profiting off international trade.

Food, the Legacy of Colonization, and Resistance

Although currently we can recognize many Indigenous foods that are staples of Latin American diets, we must also acknowledge the legacy of colonization in this diet. The large-scale consumption of “meat,” which makes up such a significant part of modern Latin American diets, is entirely traceable to the conquest and the process of colonization, as is the cultural, social, and even gendered significance attached to such consumption. The expansion of the commodification of animals as an industry in Latin America is also rooted in the legacy of colonization. Through this commodification, dairy also became a huge industry in colonial Spain. Interestingly, the consumption of milk and other dairy products serve as a unique lens through which to consider the links between food and colonization.

The practice of dairying was a product of the domestication of sheep, goats, cows, and pigs somewhere between 11,000-8,000 BCE. [10] People whose society was structured by a pastoral tradition were the first to practice dairying. These people were primarily Indo-European and are said to have pushed out to Northern Europe and as well as Pakistan, Scandinavia, and Spain. The practice of the consumption of milk—and to a large extent cheese, yogurt, and butter—has long been the tradition among these European people. In groups that were traditionally hunters and gatherers, however, there is little evidence for any type of dairying, given that they had no animals suitable for dairying, and that this practice required a more sedentary lifestyle. As Europeans colonized “the Americas,” they also brought with them the practice of dairying, a huge industry to this day. Yet Indigenous societies were based on the hunter-gatherer model. It is here that we see the most interesting piece of biological resistance to the process of food colonization: the bodily rejection of lactose among Indigenous populations. All data indicate high levels of lactose malabsorption[11] (LM) among groups that were traditionally hunter-gatherers. Populations from traditional zones of non-milking—namely, the Americas, Africa, Southeast and East Asia, and the Pacific—have a very high prevalence of LM. Among these groups, approximately 63-98% of all adults are not able to consume milk or lactose-rich dairy products without experiencing at least some level of physical discomfort. [12] Individuals of European decent, however, have a very low prevalence of lactose malabsorption. [13] Thus, there is a clear and well-established link between geography and the prevalence of LM. Descendants of zones of non-milking continue to have high prevalence of LM, especially among those who remain relatively unmixed or who have only interbred with other LM populations. Low prevalence of LM remains constant among those of northern European descent. Among individuals who are mixed between these populations, the level of mixture determines the prevalence of either low or high LM; that is, the more European a person is, the lower the prevalence of LM. Although colonial diets and eating practices were integrated into traditional Indigenous consumption practices, dairy is a product that to this day remains physically intolerable for many.

Food Is Power

Colonization is a violent process that fundamentally alters the ways of life of the colonized. Food has always been a fundamental tool in the process of colonization. Through food, social and cultural norms are conveyed, and also violated. The Indigenous people of the Americas encountered a radically different food system with the arrival of the Spanish. The legacy of this system is very present in the food practices of modern Latin American people. Yet, we must never forget that the practice of colonization has always been a contested matter as groups have negotiated spaces within this process. Indigenous foods remain as present in contemporary Latin American diets as do European foods. Understanding the history of food and eating practices in different contexts can help us understand that the practice of eating is inherently complex. Food choices are influenced and constrained by cultural values and are an important part of the construction and maintenance of social identity. In that sense, food has never merely been about the simple act of pleasurable consumption—food is history, it is culturally transmitted, it is identity. Food is power.

Written by Dr. Linda Alvarez for Food Empowerment Project


[1] Armstrong, R., & Shenk, J. (1982). El Salvador, the face of revolution (2nd ed.). Boston: South End Press.

[2] Earle, R. (2012). The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial
Experience in Spanish America, 1492-1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3] Trigg, H. (2004). Food Choice and Social Identity in Early Colonial New Mexico.
Journal of Southwest , 46 (2), 223-252.

[4] Earle, R. (2012). The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492-1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[5] Crosby, A. W. Jr. (1972). The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

[6] Earle, R. (2012). The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492-1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[7] Hackett, C. & C. Shelby. (1942). Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermin’s Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

[8] Gutierrez, R. A. (1991). When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

[9] Trigg, H. (2004). Food Choice and Social Identity in Early Colonial New Mexico. Journal of Southwest , 46 (2), 223-252.

[10] Vuorisalo, T., Arjamaa, O., Vasemägi, A., Taavitsainen, J. P., Tourunen, A., &
Saloniemi, I. (2012). High lactose tolerance in North Europeans: a result of migration, not in situ milk consumption. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 55(2), 163-174.

[11] Also known as lactose intolerance.

[12] Simoons, F. J. (1978). The Geographic Hypothesis and Lactose Malabsorption: A weighing of the Evidence. Digestive Diseases, 23(11), 963-980.

[13] With the exception of some Italians and Greeks.

Source: http://www.foodispower.org/colonization-food-and-the-practice-of-eating/

 on: October 22, 2017, 05:31:34 AM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
How Elites Used Human Sacrifice to Enforce Inequality in Ancient Societies

Elites knew the value of fearmongering even way back when.

By Kali Holloway / AlterNet
April 7, 2016, 7:41 AM GMT

Religion has long been a useful tool for social control, with fear of god used in service of every despicable practice from slavery to war. A new study reveals that religious rites, particularly ritual sacrifice, helped create and maintain class stratification in ancient societies. According to researchers from the University of Auckland, Victoria University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, the findings reveal a “darker link between religion and the evolution of modern hierarchical societies” than once thought.

The analysis focused on 93 Austronesian cultures, meaning peoples who originated in Taiwan, later settling in Madagascar, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Researchers found that the more class stratification that existed in a society—elites on top, with the rest of the populace on the bottom—the more likely it was to engage in ritualistic killings. The powerful frightened the masses into staying in proverbial line by employing “god-sanctioned” sacrifice, which entailed implicitly threatening the lives of many for supposed wrongdoing. Those at the top became, by proxy, gods among men and women, and they maintained those positions by doling out killings as they deemed necessary.

“By using human sacrifice to punish taboo violations, demoralize the underclass and instill fear of social elites, power elites were able to maintain and build social control,” lead study author Joseph Watts stated in a press release.

“[H]uman sacrifice provided a particularly effective means of social control because it provided a supernatural justification for punishment,” says study co-author Russell Gray. “Rulers, such as priests and chiefs, were often believed to be descended from gods and ritual human sacrifice was the ultimate demonstration of their power.”

The method by which sacrifices were carried out reads like a horrifying laundry list of ways you would never want to go out. Ritual killings took the form of “burning, drowning, strangulation, bludgeoning, burial, being cut to pieces, crushed beneath a newly built canoe or being rolled off the roof of a house and decapitated.” Once a society began using sacrifice to keep the ancient equivalent of the 1 percent in the top slot and slaves at the bottom, the system became self-perpetuating.

“What we found was that sacrifice was the driving force,” says researcher Quentin Atkinson, “making societies more likely to adopt high social status and less likely to revert to egalitarian social structure."

The study, which was published in Nature, holds obvious implications for the roles of religion—and fear—in our own top-down, elite-ruled culture.

“Religion has traditionally been seen as a key driver of morality and cooperation,” states Watts, “but our study finds religious rituals also had a more sinister role in the evolution of modern societies.”


 on: October 07, 2017, 04:39:33 PM 
Started by News - Last post by News
The rise of agricultural states came at a big cost, a new book argues

By Bruce Bower
October 3, 2017 -

Buy this book "Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott" at Amazon.com

Contrary to popular opinion, humans didn’t shed a harsh existence as hunter-gatherers and herders for the good life of stay-in-place farming. Year-round farming villages and early agricultural states, such as those that cropped up in Mesopotamia, exchanged mobile groups’ healthy lifestyles for the back-breaking drudgery of cultivating crops, exposure to infectious diseases, inadequate diets, taxes and conscription into armies.

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