Home > Uncategorized > Words and Broken Bones.

Words and Broken Bones.

Much discussion has been made of the word “slave” and the implications that come with its use. Campbell unapologetically uses the word instance after instance, as opposed to Galland’s delicate (and outright) avoidance of the word.

Campbell’s intentions may very well have been innocuously academic; regardless, his treatment of the issue presents an interesting glimpse into how slavery was thought of at the time. This is to say that slavery was commonplace – it was normal, it was everyday, it was the way things were. Slavery was a non-event, as ordinary as text messages or soda pop are to you and I. Owning another person as property was…just that. Undoubtedly there was cruelty, inhumane treatment, and ruthless punishment, but those were just parts of life.  However unintentionally, Campbell’s austere use of “slave” (and the euphemistic “bondsman”  is a picture perfect example of the indifference with which these words were originally used. To us, of course, these words are shocking and sensitive, but if I believe that if we are to understand the role and remembrance of slavery in Texas’ history, we must also seek to understand the ambivalence with which it was carried out.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. katelongoria
    February 1, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    This a really interesting idea. While I’m excited to read slavery accounts from the black perspective, I also want to read some accounts of slavery from a white perspective. Were there any plantation owners who cringed at what they did to these people? Maybe it’s a bit of a morose topic, but interesting all the same.

  2. markcotham
    February 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    It’s interesting to think that a simple, cold, factual treatment of such a topic can give us such pause. It’s definitely good to try to understand the linguistic tactics that white people used to detach themselves from this atrocity while it occurred before their eyes.

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