I think that Professor Jeremy Tompkins lecture was really interesting in that it added to the discussions of other lectures that we have had in the class cycle already. In thinking about the way in which knowledge is reproduced, it is often done from the perspective or lens of the dominant party, often of an oppressing party. We read in our textbooks often of great American victories and humanitarian efforts but very little or very infrequently do we hear of the ways in which we have screwed up as country, we are taught that we have succeeded in our role as a global citizen. I am not criticizing the Unite States so much as I am criticizing the way in which we are taught to think about the terms of international politics and of the central idea of globalization and colonialism. At the core of globalization is the economic them of capitalism, of which there are usually definitive winners and losers. I bring this up to exemplify just how powerful of a mechanism the global economy is not just in its ability to be far reaching and immense, but in its power to alter the production of knowledge.
The talk focused not so much on the Haitian revolution, but on the idea that we were studying the independence of a people that previously we were not taught about. Even if we were, we were taught about the revolution from the perspective of the French, not from the perspective of conquered people who were a previous colony. In putting the perspective of the Haitians on the same plane of power as other nations, we have indeed revolutionized the idea of what history is supposed to be, from the perspective of the few to the perspectives of the many. In thinking about this idea, it is a movement that some are very uncomfortable with. The idea that those who have previously been silenced and exposed to censure would finally have a platform which allowed them a voice on history is something that we currently grapple with and will continue to struggle with so long as there are knowledgeable alternative perspectives that have yet to be heard.
One of the things that I think about when I hear about the revolution of the Haitian Revolution being taught is ideas around race in the United States. Children who grow up being taught that a group is worse than another group based on a history have no choice but to think about their experiences in that lens. Take something like the confederate flag. Children who grow up thinking about what it represents in the South might be taught that it is a proud memorial for those who lost their lives defending their homes and way of life, ignorant of the fact that their way of life oppressed and enslaved an entire group of people. For this reason it is important that those children learn the perspectives of those who are endangered and have been attacked by the representations of their histories.