• Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

An Annual Update | Gambler’s House


Sep 23, 2022

The Library Bar & Grill, Albuquerque, New Mexico

As we speak is the winter solstice, which makes it the eleventh anniversary of this weblog. Final 12 months on this date I announced that I used to be scaling again to a extra occasional posting schedule, and I’ve actually caught to that. I haven’t been doing a complete lot of studying particularly on Chaco Canyon lately, however I’ve truly been doing a good quantity of studying typically, so I believed in the present day I’d do a fast replace on what I’ve been studying over the previous 12 months and the way it pertains to my (nonetheless somewhat imprecise) longer-term plans. I ordinarily write about archaeoastronomy on the solstices, however I don’t have a lot to say about it proper now so this will probably be a extra normal submit.

My studying over the previous 12 months falls into a number of clear classes. I’ve truly usually been studying books and articles from totally different classes concurrently (in parallel, because it had been), somewhat than sequentially, however for functions of summarizing right here I believe it makes extra sense to debate every class individually as a substitute of attempting to reconstruct a chronological sequence. The primary classes have been:

  1. Medieval historical past
  2. Nineteenth-century US historical past
  3. Ethnographic and historic background on particular locations I’ve visited this 12 months
  4. Miscellaneous historical past/ethnography/archaeology of different locations or peoples
  5. The Bible and associated scholarship

Clearly these classes have rather a lot in widespread, and typically my studying falls inside a fairly slender vary of nonfiction genres. Nonetheless, there’s quite a lot of range even inside that slender vary, and lots of the books I’ve learn this 12 months have considerably influenced my pondering on a spread of points. I’ll give temporary overviews of the classes, the precise works I’ve learn inside every, and my normal impression of them under. These overviews are a lot much less detailed than a real assessment could be, and I’ll get round to doing longer evaluations of a few of them (in all probability not all) in some unspecified time in the future. Anyway, right here we go.

Medieval Historical past

As I’ve talked about earlier than, for so long as I’ve been doing this weblog I’ve been studying no matter I can discover on developments all through the world that had been roughly simultaneous with the florescence of Chaco Canyon (roughly AD 800–1250, with the primary peak round AD 1050–1150). In some instances this was to realize extra info on societies that interacted immediately with the Chacoans, however most often it was simply to get a broader sense of the worldwide context of Chacoan instances. It was a really dynamic, fascinating period, in quite a lot of methods. I discovered rather a lot via studying articles, however over time I got here to appreciate that to get an actual good sense of many of those developments I’d actually need to learn books. A number of of the books I learn this 12 months lined this era, and had been very fascinating in shaping my enthusiastic about it.

These books included William Jordan’s Europe in the High Middle Ages, Jean Gimpel’s The Medieval Machine, David Howarth’s 1066: The Year of the Conquest, and Janet Abu-Lughod’s Before European Hegemony. Of those, Abu-Lughod’s was in all probability essentially the most influential on my pondering, as she tries to kind of explicitly prolong the “World Methods Principle” strategy to trendy capitalist society again into the center ages, significantly the interval AD 1250–1350. She posits {that a} comparable however totally different world system operated at the moment, wherein Europeans had been lively however marginal members, and the primary focal factors had been the Center East, southern India, and China. It’s a convincing case, although it was written in 1989 and a number of the argumentation feels a bit dated in the present day (opposing a Eurocentric strategy to financial historical past was far more controversial then than it’s now!). Studying this e-book led me to Eric Wolf’s Europe and the Individuals with out Historical past, which I’ve solely lately began however clearly has some ideological overlap, although it focuses on a barely later interval.

Of the opposite books, the Jordan is a fairly workmanlike introduction to the interval (a part of the identical sequence as Chris Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome, in regards to the previous interval, however not groundbreaking in the identical approach). Howarth’s is a popularized account that’s a enjoyable learn although I don’t understand how significantly it’s taken by educational historians. He devotes specific consideration to the nautical features of the Norman Conquest, which had been fairly important in his telling. Gimpel’s e-book is fascinating in displaying how a lot automation and “industrial” manufacturing had been an element within the medieval financial system, which actually cuts towards the stereotypical picture of the center ages.

Nineteenth-Century US Historical past

My curiosity on this interval grew out of my curiosity in indigenous historical past and the way the present Native American societies obtained from their precontact state to the place they’re in the present day. It is a newer space of intensive studying for me in some methods, and was a selected focus this 12 months. One e-book I learn was Kenneth Porter’s The Black Seminoles, which was actually fascinating in its portrait of a particular group of blended ancestry and complex historic place.

Extra influential theoretically for me, although, was Elliot West’s The Contested Plains, in regards to the Colorado gold rush within the 1850s and its impact on the Native teams of the Nice Plains. West situates his account inside what I suppose could be thought-about environmental historical past, however the focus is just not a lot on how individuals affected the land as how the land affected individuals. He additionally focuses equally on the Plains tribes and the white settlers, and reveals how each had been pursuing new visions of easy methods to develop societies primarily based on the sources of a spectacular however harsh nation. He makes the essential level that all of it comes right down to vitality, and the way it’s extracted from the atmosphere, however he (appropriately) interprets “vitality” far more broadly than individuals typically do, for instance giving a lot consideration to how the horse allowed Plains individuals to unlock the vitality of the grass throughout them. It’s in the end a tragic story of how the nation couldn’t present sufficient for each peoples to pursue their desires concurrently.

Subsequent, I’ve lately began studying Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought, in regards to the interval between the Warfare of 1812 and the Mexican Warfare. I don’t have rather a lot to say about it to date however I’m actually liking it.

Background on Locations I’ve Visited

I did fairly a little bit of touring this 12 months, largely to see household or for different obligations. As I love to do, although, I did some studying in regards to the historical past and particularly indigenous populations of lots of the locations I visited.

Two of crucial locations for me this 12 months had been San Diego and Las Vegas, the place my girlfriend spent important quantities of time for work and I’d go to her. I due to this fact learn fairly a bit in regards to the Kumeyaay of the San Diego space, particularly Lowell John Bean’s Mukat’s People and Richard Carrico’s Strangers in a Stolen Land, in addition to Michael Connolly Miskwish’s Maay Uuyow: Kumeyaay Cosmology (so a little bit of ethnoastronomy in any case). I don’t have a complete lot to say about these, however they had been fascinating context for understanding that space. On Las Vegas, most of what I learn was within the type of articles somewhat than books, and largely in regards to the so-called “Virgin Anasazi,” Puebloan individuals contemporaneous with Chaco and related in some intriguing methods. It is a line of studying I intend to pursue additional, and can probably write about right here in additional depth.

I additionally went to Hawai’i for the primary time this 12 months, particularly to Maui for my girlfriend’s dad’s wedding ceremony. My mother had lately gone to Hawai’i herself not too way back, and he or she lent me Phil Barnes’s A Concise History of the Hawaiian Islands for background studying. It was fascinating, however once more not one thing I’ve quite a lot of well-formed ideas about at this level.

Miscellaneous Historical past/Ethnography/Archaeology

That is largely primary introductory studying about varied areas and societies that piqued my curiosity this 12 months for varied causes (except for private visits). Books on this class embrace Kenneth Ames and Herbert Maschner’s Peoples of the Northwest Coast: Their Archaeology and History, Robert McGhee’s Ancient People of the Arctic, and Irving Rouse’s The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus. I don’t have a complete lot to say about these, however the McGhee e-book specifically is exceptionally well-written as popularized archaeology goes and describes a very fascinating and mysterious society. I like to recommend it extremely to anybody occupied with that type of factor.

The Bible

Lastly, one venture I set myself this 12 months, largely separate from my different studying, was to learn via the entire Bible. I’ve been occupied with it for a very long time, and so I had been vaguely pondering of doing this for some time and this 12 months was simply after I determined to go for it. I learn the Outdated and New Testaments within the King James Model, which took me nearly six months (in parallel with my different studying). It’s actually fascinating in quite a lot of methods to see what this enormously influential e-book truly says, even for a usually non-religious particular person like me. I’m at the moment studying the Apocrypha, additionally within the KJV, which can also be fascinating, and after I end that I’ll transfer on to different associated literature, presumably Josephus or a number of the Pseudepigrapha. Finally I’d wish to learn the Qur’an as effectively.

As context for this studying, I’ve additionally been studying varied trendy scholarship on the Bible and associated subjects. That is extra “informal” studying than I usually have finished for different subjects, so I haven’t been monitoring it carefully or recording it on my studying checklist. It’s a very fascinating world of scholarship, although, with quite a lot of parallels to the opposite studying I do however with an immense depth of time and dedication that’s basically unequalled within the Western scholarly custom. I’ve been enthusiastic about writing up a few of my ideas about it in some unspecified time in the future, presumably on a brand new weblog of some type.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been as much as. This weblog has been comparatively quiet, it’s true, however not as a result of I haven’t been busy. I truly really feel like I’m doing an increasing number of productive studying than I’ve for a very long time, even when the outcomes from it could take some time to gestate. Chaco might not be my predominant concentrate on the second, nevertheless it too is within the background and I’ll come again to it in some unspecified time in the future. Comfortable Solstice.

Captain Prepare dinner Statue at Midday on the Winter Solstice, Anchorage, Alaska

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