craig steven wilder
intro’d to him here:
part 1 (10 min):
part 2 (50 min):
And these stories of radical Christians transforming native people into religious perfectionists, into models of Christian virtue, are actually, you know, just being eaten up in Europe.
It’s an—it’s awkward. You know, I think—you know, when you think about the way that Ms. Browne was talking about Traces of the Trade, this slow, uncomfortable realization that you’re part of this world with this very broad, deep, painful history is, to say the very least, awkward. It was—it also became an intellectual challenge for me: How do I tell that story? And how do I get that story to an audience and get them to understand its meaning, what it means for us today and what it meant for us then? And so, I think, in some ways, as a historian it’s probably easier to deal with that realization, because we have the tools for then wrestling with it.
And I needed to explain this phenomenon, and so one of the things I looked at was I really tried to examine the history around that decision-making process. And in the book, I point out that it has a lot to do with the rising fear of slave revolts in the 18th century colonies and the belief that children would be more easily socialized into slavery and less likely to revolt.And I argue in the book that one of the things that Northerners contribute to the—Northern intellectuals contribute in the decades before the war is the attempt to establish a common ground between the North and South, an intellectual solution to the crisis over slavery as that crisis boils up. And they actually manage to claim a new public position in this role. I argue in the book that actually what allows the college to become—the university to become what we know today, an independent, influential actor in public affairs, rather than an offshoot of churches, which is what they are in the colonial period, right—what allows them to break free of the church and establish themselves and their own prestige in the public arena is the ability to articulate a new vision of the United States, a new future for the United States.But it’s premised on racial science. It’s premised upon a claim that academics, intellectuals, can make a better, more informed, truer argument about the future of the nation and the question of slavery. And they use race science to make that claim. And so, in the final chapter of the book, I look at the overrepresentation of academics, of college professors and college presidents, in racial cleansing movements.
I look at the overrepresentation of academics, of college professors and college presidents, in racial cleansing movements45 – finding that this story shows up everywhere – is the piece we need to get..
on mit site:
book links to amazon
Craig is senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative: