Rosenstein’s Ordonnance de la police génerale de St. Barthelemy

”Pehr Herman Von Rosenstein made me do it”. See, I haven’t posted here in a minute and theres several reasons for it which I might share some other time lol, nonetheless I thought I’d briefly share some of what I’ve been studying this past month.

Like a year ago I did a series on here about Swedens History of Racism, amongst the things I briefly covered then was our former colony S:t Barthélemy. For my course this term I’ve been writing a paper on the swedish ”Code Noir”. For those who havent heard of it the originl Code Noir: Édit du Roy was put together in 1685 by King Louis XIV of France with the purpose of defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire.

What I’ve been studying is our own Swedish version of this whom many are unaware of even existed, and to be honest it was really difficult for me in the beginning of this study to allocate this ”Ordonnance” to begin with. After reading some on memoirestbarths.com in my search for these documents I found out that we seem to have had a history of ”misplacing” or ”mishandling” our records. Thus I’ll be sharing some of it here, hoping it might assist somebody else in the future interested in looking into Swedens colonial past.

(After digging a bit, it seems the physical original of the ”Ordonnance”, should be available at the swedish national archive (Riksarkivet), and if I ever end up going I’ll make sure to try to get a picture of it.)

First up is a an (English) excerpt from the local newspaper The Report of St. Bartholome No. 5 & 6 from 1804 which printed sections from the original edict/text.


Here’s the full Swedish transcrip of the original Rosensteins’ Ordonnance de la police géneral S:t Barthelemy.

The original Ordonnance was written by the governor of S:t Barthelemy of the time: Pehr Herman Von Rosenstein, who was one of the first people to arrive with ”Sprengporten” the first ship sent out to the colony right after it shifted ownership from French to Swedish in 1784.


I’ll also be adding the original (French) Code Noir here:


Homegoing

Imagine all the people that came before you. In my mind it goes from a few faces, to a crowd, to a sea.

So many I can’t even picture them all with a face let alone a life of their own, my little brain goes 15 years back at most, yet they’re all there. Amazingly enough, even If I can’t keep track, my body does. They’re all there.

”If you got to pick a superpower, what would it be?” Classic question. Most of us have answered it multiple times and we’ll most likely answer it many more. We love magic, and mystique and the beyond.

I used to say ”I want to fly!”, or wish for a superbrain, but I could never quite decide what I’d choose for sure. Last year I did.

The idea has passed me by in various forms, and I have most certainly been shaped by my surroundings and the quite ridiculous amounts of sci-fi and fantasy that I’ve consume throughout my life. Really it’s alot.

My body pretty much runs itself, if I had to do everything my body does automatically by myself I wouldn’t have made it this far lol, I can’t even text and talk at the same time. Regardless, If I got to pick a power, I’d like the ability to tap into my double helixes (DNA) like a phoneline and chat with my predecessors.

I dreamt of it once. In my head I pictured it like a grand hall, with several etages holding a seated crowd looking down at me in the center, and I didn’t quite get what it was until my grandma came to greet me.

Homegoing is the name of a book by Yaa Gyasi that I just finished reading tonight. It brought back these thoughts I had. It tells the story of a familys lineage from Africa to America and the UK; from colonisation, to slave trade to now. Some of the people along the way are aware of their place in the family line, whilst others aren’t. As the reader you pick up on things that have been passed down all the same, unbeknownst or not, mannerisms, items, sayings, even fears. I won’t share too much, but this book will stay with me. It is beautifully written and it takes you in and holds you close ‘til it’s done telling its’ story.

If you, like me, have been wondering who came before you, if they thought about you like you think of them… Maybe you’ve beat yourself up for not knowing any or all their names, I know I did – let this be your reminder that they’re here all the same. The good, the bad, the ones you know and not, see they never left. Their story lives too, in everything that got you here, and that’ll stay with you even when you’ve forgotten all about it, just like your body breathes even if you’d forget to.

You’re not one but many.


Caribbean ”Radicals” and building a foundation

I haven’t been super into social media as of late, however one of the great benefits of these global networks is the access to and interactions one share with cool people who happen to be far away.

Specifically on twitter, I follow a bunch of these cool people. In particular a bunch of black intellectuals who lift topics on the daily that gets my head buzzing in all the the best ways.

One of them is Dr. CBS @ blackleftaf, who posted this tweet a few days ago:

Under it people started listing Caribbean writers who’ve made important contributions to everything from pan-africanism, anti-racism work and neo-colonial studies, to the basics of class/imperial anlysis from a non-western perspective.

My first thought was – Wow Im so grateful I follow great people who provide me with homework on the daily to further my dive in these fields. (Thus I started compiling comments into a list of people to check off.)

My second thought was, wow I have so much to read now, yikes (yay).

Here’s the list:

Frantz Fanon
Aime Cesaire
Walter Rodney
Claudia Jones
Winston James
Jemima Pierre
Lloyd Best
Eric Williams
CLR James
Hubert Harrisson
Oliver Cox
Rhoda Reddock
Andaiye
Richard B Moore
Alissa Trotz
Aaron Kamugisha
Percy C Hintzen
Monique Bedasse
George Padmore
Zophia Edwards
Marcus Garvey
Amy Jacques Garvey
Amy Ashwood Garvey
Otto Huiswoud
Harvey R Neptune
Michael Bennett
Brian Meeks
Anthony Bogues
Paget Henry
Michael-Rolph Trouillot
Michael Ralph
Angelique V Nixon
Sylvia Wynter

Some of them I’ve heard of before and some I haven’t, I figured I’d put the list here for anyone who might be interested in reading some of their work too. Some are older contibutions and some are newer ones. I recommend checking the original thread if you’re on twitter since I might’ve missed some that’ve been added later + following @ blackleftaf since she drops gems on the daily.

My plan is to check them off gradually along side my studies, and I’ll be starting with this one:

The titel of this post is a play on the supposed radicalness of prominent black thinkers. Specifically those who chose to criticize the status quo of the world – imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and white supremacy. They laid the foundation so that people like myself today who wishes to crack open the old paradigm and bring forth the birth of a new, can see where we’ve been and won’t have to start from scratch (at least in thought). They already knew that for us to move further, past ground level action, we’d have to do our homework, so they left us a bunch.

Why did so many ”radical” voices come out of the Caribbean? One might ask. I honestly don’t know. Maybe it was the violent birth of nations that wouldn’t have existed otherwise followed by the scramble for a new post-colonial identity? Whatever it was, it produced some of the greatest thinkers and voices in history.

If you end up reading any of them or already have and feel like discussing it – drop a comment, either on here, twitter or instagram. The digitalisation brought us together supposedly for this exact reason. I’ll also be checking in here with thought’s and maybe a review or two as I go along.

‘Til next time

YungHistoria

What does it mean to be a historian? And what does it mean to be a y(o)ung historian in the 21st century? You know, like a next gen’ type thing?

I think about this alot. I have to. There needs to be direction in my work, no? A basic idea, a purpose etc. The sheer fascinating with reading about our past isn’t enough.

We’re in the age of information, majority of our collectively gathered history is a click away at any given time. Thus, the historians ”original” purpose, to just simply know history, is somewhat rendered obsolete. The act of documenting history in the now is also somewhat taken care of, we record e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. now, literally everything.

So far though, I’ve managed to conclude that my purpose as a historian still seems to be to know history. But not as a means of a walking timeline, but as a lens or a conduite. Bare with me lol. A conduite meaning, if a 10 year old kid touched me, they’d be zapped and know none of it’s random. They’d know of the people that came before us and just how much they matter. They’d know the events that shaped our reality now and how it’s all linked.

Will I ever achieve it? No, absolutely not. My head’s too small and my time is limited. However, It’s a pretty cool purpose, and I’ll keep busy forever.

I feel like there’s a focus on the now. Our attention span is getting shorter, travel is going faster, time itself feels like it’s moving faster. It’s easy to remain centered and only focus on your immediate surroundings, your immediate reality. I’m not gonna knock anybody who is, it makes sense.

All I hope is that the people whom we’re currently standing on, aren’t lost to history. That when we as individuals look for our identity, we remember that the people who came before us helped shape who we are. There’s no shame in looking to them for guidance and help. Our past, our culture and our elders is an asset.

So when you ask yourself who you are, or why people do what they do, my job as a historian will be to say look to those who came before.

Maybe I’m talking out of my ass but I feel like this makes sense?

Regarding the y(o)ung aspect, I guess I just gotta make sure I package (or convey) our history in a way that shows just how relevant it is for today, for people like me. Aswell as document the perspectives and conclusions that my generation will be adding to the book later on.

Further more, yungHistoria is a hilarious name for a blogpost, and I feel it embodies the concept I’m trying to push here, which is me I guess? Me as a historian? Like – I’m down for both trap music and ancient civilizations. If you tell me there’ll be hiphop, Axumite coins, Ekpe masks AND pizza? I’ll be there in an instant. Faster than Europe ruined the economy of an entire continent type fast. Feel me?

After My First Week As A History Major

So, after my first week at Uni, I wanted to share some thoughts and briefly reflect on it.

Most of the opinions I currently hold regarding the field of history or what it means to be a historian are fundamentally thoughts Ive had for some time, even if theyve been shaped and elaborated on through debates, active research and growth. I say this to highlight the backstory of my conclusions, which is this:

1) – I. LOVE. history. I could read and debate this stuff for hours, I’m so excited about this. I’ve been spending hours reading these first few weeks, and now all I wish for christmas is a faster and more effective way to retain information, thanks. (Relevant Avatar sidenote: For those who don’t know me my third favorite character after Aang and Toph was Wan Shi Tong, he’s goals)

2) – The achievements of black and brown people, as well as the African continent as a whole has been systematically written out, down-played and placed on the sidelines within this field.

(Many of you probably already knew this, as did I, but I get unmistakenly reminded whenever I’m in any designated setting than my own)

What to take from this statement you ask?

– If you’re of the opinion that ”black historians” are ”radical loonies” or that the concept of a ”black” historian is odd to you then you might want to go over it again. Some of them are of course, same goes for traditional western and eastern historians who’ve made up all sorts of things in an attempt to benefit from history (for example see the Piltdown Man). In any field there’s bound to be liars and loonies but I’m here to say that it’s been concluded as a fact – if you havent accepted it yet – that history has been consciously written to exclude/downplay the achievements of the people of the African continent (and their decendants).

Ironically, historians have been telling us this for quite some time in their famous ”History is (usually) written by the winners” – quote.

Most people don’t care about this that much, like really truly care. Which is okay I guess its not like history carries any form of political leverage or power. It’s not like a group of people were literally granted a country due to history. How do I know? Name one early complex society in the African continent that’s south of the Sahara, ill wait. Nothing? Okay. That’s fine. Don’t blame yourself. We like to put the blame on us and ofc part of the responsiblity is ours, but you mean to tell me that we have an entire continent, the very continent we as a species walked out of, yet majority of our historical excavations have been done everywhere else but there? Which is usually, in combination with the lack of documentation, the primary reason given for the lack of information available as well as provided.

I love history. So much. I can’t get enough of it, it’s like being told stories as a kid yet most of it’s (supposedly) true, which makes it even cooler. I geek out completely and been reading history mags (who’s target audience is clearly middle-aged white men,) since I was like 11 yrs old. Odly enough, the closest I got to seeing anyone remotely resembling myself in these mags were in stories of the Incas, Mayans, and Egyptians. (Us westeners sure love Egyptians, sometimes it gets weird).

Nonetheless, back to the topic at hand, It just doesnt make sense, rationally, logically, it doesnt add up. How, did our species walk out of that continent, (which we all more or less collectively agree on) and then proceed to collect information about everywhere but there? It must’ve been a conscious effort to place the focus somewhere else. Was it only a a matter of conscious disregard, maybe some plain disinterest due proximity? Probably a bit of both.

I opened up the discussion with a classmate, who seconded my thoughts and added that this has become more relevant of a question along with the recent concept and study of neo-colonialism/de-colonization. Which is true. Meaning that the idea itself already exists with the next generation of historians, I whole heartedly hope that we won’t collectivly fumble it and continue to echo the same withered textbooks people been reading.

So what’s the purpose of this post? And what’s the conclusion?

– That black historians were born out of a dire need. That the collective historical worldview is lacking and full of holes and that the historical field itself is very much alive (ill continue to say this dont @ me lol). It’s very alive and decisions are being made everyday about what gets put in the books and what doesn’t. Proximity matters – the way I look directly affected how I approach this field from jump.

I’m here and look the way I do because of history that goes further back than slavery and I want it to be included, I want to see myself in the books I read, beyond Egypt. We’re supposed to cover the African continent later on in the course, I read the introduction in which they already excused the lack of knowledge there was due to various circumstances. We’ll see how it goes, maybe i’ll have to double down on this. But for now, I’ll sit right here and continue to update my blog as I learn the (very incomplete) history of the world. I’ll keep asking why it doesn’t add up, whilst (fingers crossed) receving the tools to add some missing pieces one day.