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Looking Deeper

I thought I’d use this blog post as an opportunity to go into a little bit more depth about my thoughts on our discussion on Thursday. As I remember it, the room was split on their opinion of China Galland’s attempted sympathy for the slaves and what they had to go through. Some people believed that her trying to imagine the horrors and torture that the captives had to go through was unreasonable and insensitive as well as overbearing and needless. Others respected her for her attempt at trying to get into the minds of slaves and really see what they had to go through. Additional conversation topics that were debated was whether or not it was right for her to attempt to force her way into their community and base her fitting in on her ability to sympathize with that community’s ancestors.

My opinion on this is much more in favor of the author than most of the class seemed. I thought that her attempting to empathize with the captives was atleast sincere, if the actual extent to which she went about it was a bit misguided. One of the problems she seemed to be running into was the fact that she was not African American, creating a certain unease about her and the way in which she attempted to interact with the community. I do not fault her for attempting this, I certainly don’t think there was any other way she could have really gotten as in depth as she wanted to be. It is not an easy thing to study by any stretch, and the fact that it is such a oddly viewed topic certainly does not help her cause. We simply don’t know how to put the events of the nineteenth century in perspective, and as such, I think that Ms. Galland’s research project is a noble one. It is something that hasn’t oft been attempted and thus we don’t really know how to look at it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I fully agree with you that I think Galland’s project is noble, and I don’t think she’s an awful or insensitive person for attempting to empathize with others — my main problem with her treatment of this issue is simply that in her writing she doesn’t reflect beyond providing a retelling of her attempted empathy, she retells the situation as if she were still standing there before the statues and memorials — why doesn’t she seem to also recognize the problematic nature of these assumptions on her part? This critique is not to say that what she’s attempting to do is inherently wrong but simply that I expected a bit more self-awareness from an award-winning author and M.A.

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