271 – How to Break a Kingdom in Six Months

For the last several years, the Anglo Saxons had been on a true war footing. AEthelflaed and Edward had been showing skill and audacity in the field, and it had paid dividends. Under their leadership, the Anglo Saxon kingdoms of the south had been taking the fight to the Danish controlled lands and were seizing massive portions of key territories.

But the Northmen weren’t about to take this assault on their newly won lands lying down. Scandinavian fleets from across the sea, as well as large armies surging from the Five Boroughs and Northumbria, were mustering to challenge the Anglo Saxon gains in the south.

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  1. Another fine episode. Perhaps the best measure of the quality of BHP is the fact that, for me, each episode stimulates a blizzard of new questions and connections across every discipline in my own thinking.

    It was also a treat to have a taste of the discussion Jamie and Zee had on the recent Cheddar fossil DNA results, and the social reaction to them. I had not heard about that DNA results, and look forward to more knowledge to be acquired in the net decade from new sites around the world and those now stored in museum collections, as the technology of genome reconstruction and analysis continue to sharpen their focus. If C. Loring Brace, WW Howells, and Louis Leaky had such tools at their disposal, we might have avoided some, at least, of th more pernicious “cultural imaginaries” decades sooner.

    I was also unaware of the movie Black Panther (I am neither a movie-goer in general nor a Marvel super-hero movie follower in particular), but I may make an exception for this. I did, however, cat about for information about the film, and was interested in some of the more thoughtful reviews cited in the Wikipedia article about the movie. I will reserve judgement on the merits of the movie til I watch it, however.

    Again, thank you for your excellent production.

  2. In light of the discussion about The Black Panther film, some may find the following excerpt from that marvel of the age, Wikipedia, a starting point…

    “Sanders of the River”
    1935 British film
    …The singer and actor Paul Robeson, a civil rights activist, accepted the role of Bosambo while living in London. At the time, he was studying the roots of pan-African culture through studies of language and music. He felt that if he could portray the Nigerian leader, Bosambo, with cultural accuracy and dignity, he could help audiences—especially Black audiences—to understand and respect the African-American roots of Black culture. He took the role on the condition that the film would portray Africans positively.[1]
    The filmmakers took an unusual step towards authenticity by sending a film crew on a four-month voyage into remote areas of Africa. They recorded traditional African dances and ceremonies, with the intention of using this footage integrated with scenes shot in the studio that included the future President and Prime Minister of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta as one of the extras.[2]
    After the filming, Robeson was asked back to the studio for retakes of some scenes. He discovered that the film’s message had been changed during editing; it seemed to justify imperialism and upholding the “White Man’s Burden.” The finished film was dedicated to “the handful of white men whose everyday work is an unsung saga of courage and efficiency”.[3]
    Bosambo was changed from a Nigerian leader to a servile lackey of British colonial rule. Robeson was furious and complained:
    The imperialist plot had been placed in the plot during the last days five days of shooting…I was roped into the picture because I wanted to portray the culture of the African people and I committed a faux pas which convinced me that I had failed to weigh the problems of 150,000,000 native Africans…I hate the picture.[4]
    In 1938, Robeson added disparagingly: “It is the only film of mine that can be shown in Italy or Germany, for it shows the negro as Fascist states desire him – savage and childish.”[5]
    Robeson was so disillusioned by the picture that he attempted, but failed, to buy back all the prints to prevent it from being shown.[6]
    It was the 11th most popular film at the British box office in 1935-36.[7]

    1. Duguid, Mark. “Sanders of the River (1935)”. BFI Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
    2. pp. 199-200 Neame, Ronald with Cooper, Barbara Roisman Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Ronald Neame, an Autobiography Scarecrow Press, 27 September 2003
    3. “Korda and Empire”, BFI screenonline page
    4. Duberman, Martin, Paul Robeson: The Discovery of Africa, 1989, p. 182.
    5. Duberman (1989), Paul Robeson, p. 180.
    6. Robeson, Susan, A Pictorial Biography of Paul Robeson: The Whole World in His Hands, 1981, p. 73.
    7. “The Film Business in the United States and Britain during the 1930s” by John Sedgwick and Michael Pokorny, The Economic History ReviewNew Series, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Feb. 2005), pp.79-112
    8. Collinson, Gavin. “Old Bones of the River (1938)”. BFI Screenonline. British Film In

  3. I think it is more racial delineation that is a social construct. There are no biological lines where “black” ends and “N. Africa” or “Indian” or anything else begins. The main part that is socially constructed isn’t “This person has darker skin than other person”, it is “skin as dark as X is not in the same group as Y-skin tone (and thus of different value or characteristics”. And while this may seem like just pedantry, I think it is important to point out the difference; there is almost no difference in terms of melanin between say a lighter-skinned Nigerian and a darker-skinned Indian, but we make clear distinctions between them. I think it is the distinctions, and the labels we have decided to apply, that are the more important social construct to understand. We constructed an idea of “Race X and Race Y”, but even if they are almost exactly the same skin-tone we will still separate them quite a bit. This is especially true of “white” people that don’t look quite “white enough”, like Turks and Kazakhs and Southern Slavs. It isn’t simply color, it is almost a statement of quality (or not) by those who use it.

    Something I find particularly strange is sub-Saharan Africans don’t seem to have any concept of race prior to Arabs getting down there (and even then it doesn’t appear to be anything like our current idea of race), but absolutely have a very strong idea of ethnicity. They haven’t dropped ethnic identities, but definitely HAVE adopted the idea of race. Even in countries that are overwhelmingly similar in skin-tone.

    1. Well reasoned and explained. I have read of parallels throughout the New World. The myth of race was exploded a biological clasification by the time Carleton Coon died, but remains, sadly, a powerful factor in human relations.

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