Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Oral history at the University...
 Gender and the missionary...
 The United States-Israel special...
 Tasting race
 Review essay
 Book reviews

Title: Alpata : a journal of history
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090930/00003
 Material Information
Title: Alpata : a journal of history
Series Title: Alpata : a journal of history
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: History Department, University of Florida
Publisher: History Department, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090930
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Table of Contents
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    Oral history at the University of Florida
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    Gender and the missionary experience
        Page 38
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    The United States-Israel special [cultural] relationship
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    Tasting race
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    Review essay
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    Book reviews
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Full Text

A J o

University of Florida
Volume III, Spring 2006





Bridget Bihm-Manuel
F. Evan Nooe

Jason Antley
Alexandra de Padua
Javier Montoya
Julienne Obadia
Samuel Pierce
Griselda Rodriguez

Dr. Jack E. Davis
University of Florida
Department of History
Dr. Joseph Spillane, Chair

Charles Flowers


Benjamin Boyce's academic interests are many and vary greatly
from day to day. Current projects include: examining pagan
iconoclasts in the Plymouth colony; decoding the sociological and
historical implications of quoting film dialog; and assessing the
political significance of the graffiti in the restroom of the Salty
Dog Saloon near the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.

Jason Goldman is a senior double majoring in political science
and history. He is interested in international relations as it relate s
to American history and American culture. After graduation, he
plans to attend law school.

Brittany Tevis is junior majoring in political science and
Jewish studies. Her academic interests include Israeli history and
politics and issues that impact Jewish identity. Tevis is a member
of Golden Key International Honors Society, as well as a member
and former president of Gators for Israel. She is currently
studying abroad at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Matthew S.R. Bewig is a Ph.D. Candidate in American history.
He earned his M.A. in history from the University of North
Carolina, and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law
School. He is writing a dissertation on the landmark
constitutional law case of Lochner v. New York.

Joel Black earned a bachelor's degree from the University of
Victoria and master's degree form Concordia University before
enrolling at the University of Florida in 2004. He is currently
completing his second year of doctoral study and intends to
tackle postbellum labor law in his dissertation.

Charles Flowers earned a bachelor's degree from the University
of Florida in 1993 in computer engineering. He is returning to
graduate school pursuing a M.A. in Medieval History. Current
interests include the monasticism of Late Antiquity and the works
of Columbanus from Early Medieval Ireland.

Cover Photo Courtesy of P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History.

Table of Contents

Special Section Oral History at the
University of Florida

Introduction and Methodology 5
F. Evan Nooe

Oral History and Its Shortcomings 7
Jason Antley and Julienne Obadia

Oral History and Cultures Across the 10
Javier Motoya and Griselda Rodriguez

Special Collections at the University 16
of Florida
Bridget Bihm-Manuel

The Samuel Proctor Oral History 18
Samuel Pierce

An Excerpt from the Oral History of 20
Gatorade with Dr. Robert Cade
Dr. Samuel Proctor

Oral History Resources in Florida 28
Bridget Bihm-Manuel


Gender and the Missionary 38
Bejamin Boyce

The United States Israel Special 62
[Cultural] Relationship
The Story of How Jews and Israelis
became Ingrained on the American
Jason Goldman

Tasting Race 82
American Pie, Aunt Jemima, and
Immigrant Acculturation
Brittany Tevis

Review Essay and Book Reviews

The Second Coming of Charles 107
Austen Beard
Matthew S. R. Bewig

Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer's 118
Republic: The Politics of Mass
Consumption in Postwar America

Ian Wood, The Missionary Life: Saints 122
and the Evangelisation of Europe 400-

Special Section: Oral History

Oral History
At the University of Florida

F. Evan Nooe

Evidence of oral history can be found in diverse
societies throughout time. The ancient Greeks, Native
Americans, and Buddhists have utilized this methodology
to pass down stories and traditions from one generation to
the next. In contemporary society oral history has taken a
more scientific approach in an attempt to ensure
consistency and reliability. Whereas Native Americans had
no method of recording their oral histories, today varying
institutes make use of digital recordings, edited transcripts,
and archives help to reinforce the credibility of their
interviews. Today oral history research endeavors are as
diverse as the historians who conduct them. One such
historian, Bruce S. Chappell, is utilizing oral histories to
enhance his documentation of the practice of Regla de Ocha
in Cuba. At the University of Florida, the Samuel Proctor
Oral History Program takes on diverse topics ranging from
World War Two veterans to federal judges. Despite a
refinement and institutionalization of oral history research
there are still questions raised about its practice. In the
lack of supporting documentation the bias of the
interviewee can and should be questioned to try and
maintain an objective approach.
Oral history can be broadly described as any verbal
transmission from one individual to another in an attempt
to understand past events. However, in contemporary
society historians have refined this form of research to
create a more concrete scientific approach. The task of
conducting a single interview can be a complex task
involving more than simply the interviewer and interviewee.
A widely used approach is as follows:

Volume III, Spring 2006 5

Special Section: Oral History

Initial research and familiarization by the interviewer
regarding the topic to be discussed with the
The interview itself; this may be a one-hour session
or one that takes several hours over weeks or
The interview is transcribed, which includes
demarcations indicating the speaker.
A preliminary edit is given to the transcript in which
false starts to sentences are removed and improper
words such as "um" are removed to create a more
fluid transcript.
The transcribed interview is sent back for approval
by the interviewee and to have any questions
regarding content answered.
Upon return, a final edit is preformed with the
additional information given by the interviewee and
foot notes are often included giving brief
explanations of terms, events, and people mentioned
in the interview.

This brief description of the interview process shows
how historians try to ensure consistency between the
interviewer and the interviewee. The final edit allows fellow
researchers to utilize the interview with ease and to be able
to reference cited materials in publications.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History

Oral History and Its Shortcomings

Jason Antley and Julienne Obadia

As a methodology, oral history holds a rather
ambiguous place in the discipline of history. Valued as a
means of reaching historical spaces that have left few
associated written records, such as non-literate societies
and unrecorded memories, oral histories are nevertheless
often framed as "the next best thing" to document-based
evidence. Alternatively described as unreliable,
fragmented, and subject to the unpredictability's of
memory, oral history, according to its harshest opponents,
should be discounted for its inherent "bias" and
"subjectivity." Critic Patrick O'Farrell, for instance, states
that oral histories are located within "the world of image,
selective memory, later overlays and utter subjectivity ....
And where will it lead us? Not into history, but into myth."1
There are a number of underlying assumptions that
inhere in this statement. Among them is the idea of a
single historical reality that lies outside of human
relationships and politics, simply waiting for the most
appropriate methodologies to reveal it. Only the most cold
and impersonal sources can be enlisted in the
apprehension of the object-history-in question.
Embedded in this is the related assumption that
documentary sources are somehow better "reflections" of
this single past. The argument is that documents do not
change over time, that they retain their form and content,
providing a "window" into a particular time and space. This
argument is, of course, firmly based in colonialist rhetoric.
The privileging of documents over memories is partially
lodged in a preference of the methodical hands of colonial

1 Patrick O'Farrell, "Oral History: Facts and Fiction," Oral History Association
of Australia Journal, Mt. Pleasant, 5 (1982-1983): 4.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
bureaucrats over the myth-infused nonsense of natives.
While this is an extreme characterization, it brings into
relief the logic underlying the privileging of the
"quantitative" over the "qualitative" as well as that logic that
entailed such a bifurcation of knowledge to begin with.
Aside from simply refuting the points of oral history's
detractors, its proponents espouse a range of arguments of
their own relating to the benefits of such a methodology. As
historian Alistair Thomson points out in his overview of oral
history since its emergence in the 1950s, "one of the most
significant shifts in the last twenty-five years of oral history
has been [the] recognition that the so-called unreliability of
memory might be a resource, rather than a problem, for
historical interpretation and reconstruction."2 The resource
is one that gives history life and warmth. One of the
arguments for oral history, for example, is that a person
recounting a story will offer his or her emotions in relation
to the event in question, leading to a richer understanding
of that event. In fact, one of the powerful lessons that oral
history has taught is that such facets are inextricably
linked. As relevant as dates, statistics, and censuses are
the ways in which information travels. Ideas and signs are
refigured, and notions of experience are formulated.
Beyond a simple pro/con stance, however, lies the
idea of oral history as a genre of history. Designating
"types" is a very powerful discursive mechanism that has
the effect of drawing attention to, but also marginalizing, its
object. The case of gender history provides an instructive
example. It is clear that an extraordinary amount of work
has been and continues to be devoted to asserting the
relevance and importance of the genders and genderings
that occur in history. It is also safe to say that issues
surrounding gender have been deemed worthwhile
investigative categories in academia. Nevertheless, the very

2 Alistair Thomson, "Fifty Years On: An International Perspective on Oral
History," Journal ofAmerican History, 85, no. 2 (1998): 585.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
designation of gender history as a genre of history serves to
marginalize it as an "alternative." Historians who explicitly
explore gendered histories are historians of gender. It
becomes possible for other historians to say simply, "I don't
do gender" where it might, for instance, be much less
imaginable to say "I don't do region." In similar ways, the
cordoning off of oral history in some senses enforces it as
another such alternative. Designating this methodology on
the basis of the media on which it relies asserts a natural
difference between written and oral sources that, again,
only makes sense when seen in relation to its colonial
genealogy. One does not, for example, distinguish between
the use of newspapers and legal documents in spite of the
fact that these materials represent different forms and
distributions. This should not be taken as a critique of oral
history (or gender history). Rather, it is an
acknowledgment of the historically and culturally situated
nature of these categories and a suggestion that we
remember to keep issues regarding the politics of our
discipline in mind whenever we attempt to categorize or
enforce a disciplinary separation.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History

Oral History and Cultures across
the World

Javier Montoya and Griselda Rodriguez

Regardless of how historians view oral history, it has
played a role, at one time or another, in every culture in the
world. History has always been told from person to person,
whether through the commonly recognized methods of the
book, film documentary, and university lecture, or in the
most ancient of methods, oral transmission. Be it in the
city-states of classical Greece, in the Buddhist monasteries
of Asia, or in the plains of North America, oral history is a
key part of historical memory. History in this context
implies not only the recollecting of real events, but also the
recollecting of events that are fictional to the modern mind.
These events, however, were considered to be real at some
point in that given culture's history.3 The first area of
discussion is a prime example of this.
The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer are, arguably,
the two most famous pieces of literature from the ancient
world. These works, chronicling the last year of the Trojan
War and Odysseus's misadventures on his way home
respectively, were passed down orally from generation to
generation in the schools, agoras, and homes of ancient
Greece. Later on the Romans would do the same, going as
far as emulating these works by penning their own
Odyssey, that of Aeneas, and by assuring the
dissemination of these works throughout the ancient world
in the wake of their cultural and territorial conquests.

3 This is better known as oral tradition; however, it is difficult to discuss oral
history cross-culturally without reference to these traditions. For a definition
see: http://www.bartlebv.com/61/50/00105050.html

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
For the Greeks, the Homeric epic poems stood not
only as forms of entertainment, but as chronicles of actual
historical events. These poetic works contained within them
the models for ideal "Greek" behavior as derived from the
exploits of their glorious ancestors. Achilles, Odysseus,
Hektor, Telemachos and the other "leading men" of the
poems embodied in different aspects of their personality the
ideal rubric for Greek males. Their qualities of honor,
sacrifice, nobility, strength, intelligence, and courage were
the ones most admired by the majority of Greek society.
Similarly, female characters like Penelope, Adromache, and
Helen represented both the Greek perception that all
women's personalities were inherently weak and corruptible
as well as the admired characteristics of the female sex. No
doubt Helen of Troy epitomized women's role as the
"bringers of evil" by having been the central cause of the
war, just like her counterpart Pandora was infamous for
being the one who ended the Golden Age of humanity and
the gods. On the other hand, Penelope and Andromache
encompassed the preferred female characteristics of loyalty,
fealty, motherhood, and beauty amongst others.
The oral transmission of these works and the
methodologies by which they were transmitted has always
been an issue in the academic world. In addition to other
points of contention, debates rage on about whether or not
they were ever truly oral histories due to their length and
amount of detail. John Miles Foley, a professor of English at
the University of Missouri-Columbia, wrote a series of
works dealing with oral traditions and their transmission
that build upon the works of Milman Parry and Albert
Lord.4 Foley's efforts ultimately resulted in the creation of
the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, which explores

4 For Foley see: hilp l . i. %i dl.!L. 1 .I, 1 il/issues/vol3no3/foley.html.
http://www.missouri.edu/-engwww/people/foley.html. For Parry see:
http://www.bartleby.com/61/29/P0082950.html. For Lord and information on
the Milman Parry Collection at Harvard University see:
hill i i '., .chs.harvard.edu/mpc/index.html.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
topics related to oral culture, tradition, and history
throughout the various peoples of the world.5 In relation to
the Homeric epic poems, particularly The Odyssey, Foley's
works Traditional Oral Epic: The Odyssey, Beowulf and the
Serbo-Croatian Return-Song and Homer's Traditional Art
have helped to establish a possible transmission
methodology for the epic poems. Parry's and Foley's
comparative studies of South Slavic (Serbo-Croatian)
chansons de geste as performed by guslari with the epic
works of Homer revealed a system in which the guslari
followed a general rubric or set of "essential ideas" for any
particular story.6 As the guslar went about the task of
retelling the epic poem he would fill in details particular to
that instance, such as tying it in to a specific village or
ruler, while still maintaining the overall set of "essential
ideas" or "fixed expressions." Foley's research has gone even
further than Parry's, suggesting that Homer is not a real
author but simply a legendary oral literary figure to which
the epic poems are attributed, much like Orpheus was a
legendary musical figure.7 The Odyssey and The liad
represented the beginnings of an oral history tradition in
Europe that continued into the Middle Ages with works
such as Beowulf and the Song of Roland and into the
present day with the South Slavic guslari.
Like the Homeric epic poems, the oral traditions of
Buddhism form an integral part of that religion and culture.
In the few centuries after the Buddha's parinirvana (his
death and escape from the cycle of rebirth), his teachings,
called the Dharma, were transmitted orally by the
community of monastic followers or samgha The
complexities of Dharma and Buddhist philosophy led to the
formulation of lists as the preferred device for

6 For a definition of chanson de geste see:
http://www.bartleby.com/65/ch/chansons.html. For the guslari see:
http ://www.didaskalia.net/issues/vol3no3/folev.html.
7 httW://www.psupress.ore/books/titles/0-271-01870-4.html.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
memorization, transmission, and recitation. The basic
building blocks of the religion, to this day, are a set of lists
of attributes and truths that followers learn and strive to
perfect and cultivate within them.8 Specifically these "lists"
are the Four Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the twelve
links of dependent arising, and the five aggregates of
attachment. These four doctrines were passed from monk
to monk, nun to nun, and in some cases lay person to lay
person. They taught that the cause of suffering in the world
was the cycle of rebirth, that to escape from that suffering
was to follow the path of the Buddha to enlightenment and
release, and that the "right" modes of behavior included
right view, right intention, right thought, right speech, and
right livelihood. They also explained the nature of the
universe and the individual through the twelve links of the
chain of dependent arising that included feelings, cravings,
clinging, and death, as well as through other, more
complicated concepts.
The importance of Buddhist oral tradition continues
to this day in the fortnightly uposatha ceremony, in which
monks and nuns congregate together in their respective
monasteries to recite the pratimoksa rules from the Vinaya,
a text that contains rules, modes of behavior, and
guidelines for monastic life. The pratimoksa rules and their
recital are meant to remind the monk or nun how to stay on
the path towards enlightenment as well as providing a
venue for the confession of any faults or sins. The usage of
lists intended to aid in memory recall and oral transmission
extends to all aspects of the religion, from the twelve stages
of the Buddha's hagiography to the ten precepts that must
be taken on by novitiate monks and nuns.
Much as the Homeric poems served to provide
standards for ideal behavior, Buddhist religious doctrines
and guidelines provide similar models as well as

8 Rupert Gethin, The Foundations ofBuddhism (1 ic York: Oxford University
Press, 1998).

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
methodologies of practice and devotion that are meant to
aid individuals in the cultivation of enlightenment. These
two cases represent the usage of oral history both as the
basis for a culture's past and as a method of transmitting
important information about cultural norms and
expectations. Likewise, the use of oral history amongst
Plains Native Americans in North America served to provide
not only a recollection and record of important past events
but models of ideal behavior.9
Tribes like the Kiowa and Lakota kept oral accounts
of past events that were supplemented by pictographic
records called "winter counts." These records were typically
drawn on buffalo hides and recorded events in intervals of
summer and winter denoting the change in season by a
vertical line or pictograph of a tree. The winter counts
recorded events such as epidemics, battles, and the
occurrence of religious rituals like the Sun Dance. The
winter counts were meant to aid the oral historian of the
tribes in memory recall by providing visual and mental cues
to events much like the Greek "mnemonic temples," the
lists of Buddhism, or the essential ideas of the ancient
Greek poets and Slavic guslarilo.
On a wider scale than that of the Plains tribes, Native
American oral traditions included folktales and myths, that
at one time or another were considered to be representative
of real history as the Homeric epics were for ancient
Greeks. The tales consisted of creation myths and
entertaining as well as educational stories that instilled
ideas of culturally proper behavior. They often included
topics such as "vision quests" and creation myths. This oral
tradition extends to the modern day Native American
Church or Peyote religion. In the latter, oral traditions and

9 Colin G. Calloway, First Peoples: A Documentary Survey ofAmerican Indian
History (Boston, Mass.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004).
10 Bill Viola, "Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?" InMultimedia:
From Wagner to Virtual Reality, Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, eds. (1 ic'
York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001).

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
songs inform individuals about cultural practices and
beliefs as well as providing guidelines for understanding
religious ideals. The "Peyote religion" of the late nineteenth
century and its usage of the drug in all-night rituals that
involved singing and meditation inspired generations of
Native Americans to continue their struggle against Anglo-
American cultural oppression. The religion also curbed
alcoholism amongst the tribes and promoted the values of
brotherly love, Indian nationalism, family care, and self-
reliance, all of which were cultural ideals and history
transmitted orally rather than in writing that aided many
Native Americans in weathering a difficult time in their
Oral history, be it real or "fictional" (from the modern
perspective), has served and continues to serve important
functions in a range of cultures. The examples of the
Homeric epic poems, Buddhism, and the Native American
traditions only touch the surface of a universal cultural
practice. What is important is that oral history and oral
traditions form the beginnings, the roots, of modern
historical, literary, and cultural studies. Without the orally
transmitted information of the samgha, Buddhism would
not exist; nor could we have most of the epic poems of
ancient times without their traveling and village poets.
Regardless of their accuracy oral historical sources have left
their influence on written history and literature and on
modern cultural practices throughout the world. In
addition, more and more projects are begun each day and
oral sources interviewed for a wide variety of historical
subjects, from World War II submarine veterans to histories
of urban renewal and of significant periods.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History

The University of Florida Special
and Area Studies Collections and
Cuban Oral Tradition

Bridget Bihm-Manuel

Another cultural group that utilizes oral
transmission of its history is located on the island of Cuba.
During the nineteenth century, some of the Yoruba people
of Nigeria were enslaved in Cuba and inadvertently
spawned a syncretic religion called Regla de Ocha that
allowed them to worship their own deities within the
framework of Christianity. Known in the United States as
Santeria, Regla de Ocha contains elements of Spanish
Catholicism and the religion of the Yoruba. Each of their
deities, known as orishas, was identified with a Catholic
saint who shared similarities in personal attributes. For
example, Chang6, the orisha of fire, thunder, and
lightening, was syncretized in Santeria with Saint Barbara,
a Catholic saint traditionally dressed in red and white
(which are also the colors of Chang6) and associated with
lightening, which caused her death.11
Worship in Regla de Ocha focused on spirit
possession, divination, and initiations. The religious
specialists, or santeros, oversaw all religious ceremonies,
which included the possession of some participants by their
orishas. Another important function of santeros was the use
of cowry shells to divine the will of the orishas, often for the
resolution of their clients' problems. Finally, santeros and
the babalawos, or high priests, presided over initiations.
Through the major initiation, the asiento, which

1' Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, Santeria: The Religion (St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn
Publications, 1989), 41-44.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
traditionally lasted two weeks, one became a santero, and
was then able to initiate others and perform most of the
duties of a priest in Regla de Ocha 12
Bruce S. Chappell, an archivist in the Department of
Special and Area Collections at the University of Florida, is
engaged in an oral history project in Cuba documenting the
traditional practice of Regla de Ocha in Cuba. Chappell and
his collaborators, who are working without institutional
support, are all academics initiated into the religion and
who have expertise in oral history. They want to preserve
Regla de Ocha's traditional ways in the face of increasing
commercialization. Chappell states that commercialization
in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, New York,
South Florida, and other centers of Santeria resulted in the
loss of traditional knowledge. For a variety of reasons, but
mostly because Cuba was not open to Western or
"capitalist" tourism until 1993, Cuban Regla de Ocha has
been spared such a transformation. The project organizers
are helping to interview many of Havana's oldest santeros
to document how Regla de Ocha was practiced at the end of
the nineteenth century and how it has changed over the
course of the twentieth. Because Santeria has been an
orally based religion, these practitioners are often the only
sources for the study of Regla de Ocha's history. Many of
the subjects of their interviews are semi -literate and are the
repositories of an oral tradition in danger of being lost.

12 Gonzalez-Wippler, Santeria, 84-86; and R6mulo Lachataiier6, Afro-Cuban
Myths: Yemayd and Other Orishas (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers,
2004), 37-41.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History

The Samuel Proctor Oral History
At the University of Florida

Samuel Pierce

At the University of Florida, oral history is an
important part of understanding the past. In addition to
the oral history projects at the Department of Special and
Area Collections, the University of Florida is also the home
of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. It currently
houses a collection of approximately 4,000 interviews-over
100,000 pages of transcripts. Projects include a series of
900 interviews with Native Americans and interviews
related to the Civil Rights Movement, Florida women, the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Everglades
restoration. Currently, the program is in the process of
digitizing its resources (making them word searchable and
available online). The program supports itself mostly
through contract work for outside organizations, as well as
transcription services. Water Management paid for sixty
interviews, and the Department of the Interior has
commissioned a project on federal judges.
According to Dr. Julian Pleasants, the program
director, oral history is an "organized effort to gain
information and insight that might not otherwise be
available." It helps explain why people do things and how
they experience them, often shedding light on their
reactions to extraordinary events. Oral history studies the
"spoken memories" of events, experiences, and careers.
Much important information is not contained in the written
record, and oral history provides a way to uncover it.
In doing oral history, interviewers must prepare
thoroughly before asking any questions. Prior research

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
provides the basis for formulating appropriate questions.
According to Dr. Pleasants, "If you don't have the
knowledge, you'll waste your time" doing the interviews,
because the questions asked may not accurately reflect the
historical event. Often, oral history interviews are unreliable
because interview subjects tend to be self-serving, and
memories can fade over time. Interview subjects often
exaggerate or re-interpret their role in events. For this
reason, interviews must be put into the context of solid
historical research. In many cases, interviewers can push
interviewees to provide a more "accurate" answer by
demonstrating a clear knowledge of the topic.
The process of compiling an oral history interview
minimizes the possibility of including errors. Interviews are
recorded, and then transcribed verbatim. An audit editor
checks the transcript, corrects any transcription errors,
also adding bracketed information about significant people
whose names come up in the interview. After this, Dr.
Pleasants edits the interview and returns it to the
interviewee for further editing. Interviewees are allowed to
make changes or additions, but they may not rewrite
answers. After these changes are made, the interviews are
placed in the program's repository for use by researchers.
Oral history is a subjective process, but it is also a
democratic process. A look at the interview list from the UF
program shows that in addition to politicians and
prominent citizens, there have also been interviews with
resident's of UF's Flavet Village (a housing area created to
accommodate the influx of GI Bill veterans after World War
Two) and homemakers (as part of the Voices of American
Homemakers project). Done properly, oral history is a
valuable tool in understanding the past.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History

An Oral History Interview
With Dr. Robert Cade

Dr. Samuel Proctor

This is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Cade's interview from the
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. Dr. Proctor
conducted this interview himself. The University of Florida
Oral History Program holds the copyright on all materials.13

P: Now let us get to the Gatorade situation. Start off by
saying how and why.
C: The "why" was basically Dwayne Douglas's [a
volunteer coach for the University of Florida football
team] question. We wanted to find out what really
happened [to players during football games].

P: But you had the questions that you posed to
Douglas, did you not, about why the players did not
have to go to the bathroom.
C: He asked me why do players not "wee wee" during
the game.

P: Oh, I see.
C: He knew that from his own experience. That alone I
could answer after ten minutes of talking. It was of
interest to know how much did temperatures go, how
high did blood volume change, what happened to
blood-sugars and lipids, and all of the other things.

13 Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida Health Center
Collection, UFHC 25, Samuel Proctor interview with Robert Cade, Gatorade

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
P: You had not thought about this before, you had no
reason to.
C: I had no reason to. All of those were questions that
we wanted to answer with studies we did on the
football players. By the time we got all the data
analyzed, all of that was very clear. What happened
was that their blood volume went way down. With
the blood volume down, the heart cannot put out as
much blood. We did not know it at that time, but we
found in later studies, what happened was as the
amount of blood the heart pumps each minute goes
down because blood volume has gone down, initially
there is no pumping of blood to the skin, to maintain
the flow to working muscles. Not pumping it to the
skin, the players cannot get rid of the heat they are
producing. They are not carrying anything to the
skin, so instead of evaporating, the sweat will drip off
in large measure. They get more cooling from that.
That makes the blood volume deficit even worse, so
flow goes down, cardiac output goes down, flow to
the skin eventually goes down to basically nothing,
then it will extend down to muscles everywhere, and
to the brain and so on.

Another problem was that there is more water in
sweat than there is salt. You lose water
proportionately in much larger amounts than you
lose sodium. So the concentration of sodium in the
blood goes up, up, and up. Most of the time, your
serum sodium is normally about 140. If your
sodium got up to 145, you would be dreadfully
thirsty. By 150, you would just about kill to get a
drink of water. A lot of people are confused at 150.
At 155, most everyone is confused.

P: When you say confused, you are referring to your

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
C: You cannot respond to things. If someone is going to
hit you, you do not respond to that at all. You see
the blow coming, but it does not record. Your
response to it is so slow you cannot get out of the

P: This happens if one's sodium level reaches 155?
C: Yes. Some people will be unconscious. Some of
them will have convulsions.

P: Is this what happens to people who get lost in the
C: That was basically the problem. Those were two of
the major problems. You are also losing large
amounts of salt. You are proportionately losing more
water though.

P: So the sodium builds up in the system.
C: The volume of blood goes down, the sodium
concentration goes up, and everything gets worse.
The next thing that happened was that they were
burning up sugar. Most players had a low blood-
sugar [count] by the end of practice. A normal blood-
sugar is 80 to 120. Some of these guys had blood-
sugars in the forties. If you were sitting here, and I
lowered your blood-sugar to forty, you would have all
kinds of problems. You would be nervous, weak, and
sweating from that. The brain subsists entirely on
sugar, so your mental responses would be slower
and so on. We had three things, of those each by
itself would to some extent incapacitate a player. Put
them all together, and you can have real problems.
The solution was to give them water, but with salt in
it, to replace at least to a large degree the salt they
were losing in sweat. Give them sugar to keep their
blood sugar up, but do not give them so much sugar
that it will affect how the stomach and intestine

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
work. You cannot give a whole bunch of sugar. You
have to give a relatively small amount. If they were
to drink enough to replace the water and salt they
were using, then that way they would get enough
sugar to keep their blood-sugar up. Sugar and
sodium act together to increase the rate at which
this stuff is absorbed from the intestine.

P: Does this mean they had to ingest all of this during
the course of a game, which would fundamentally
change the whole idea of not allowing the players to
drink anything?
C: That is right.

P: That itself must have been a hard problem to sell to
the athletic departments.
C: Again, one of the reasons I have respect for coach
[Samuel Ray] Graves was that when we explained to
him what we had found, he professed no ability to
really understand what we were saying, but he
accepted it, and hedged his bets a little bit. We
could try it on the freshman team. They had a game
they called the Toilet Bowl, between the freshman
and the B team, on a Friday afternoon. We could
give it to the freshman for that game, but we were
not to give it to Larry Rentz or Larry Smith because
they were his coming stars.

P: So to begin with, he gave you permission to do
testing on the players after the game. Now he
broadened it, to allow you to give freshmen this
solution to drink during the game.
C: A solution to the problem. So we did that. Graves
and the entire bunch of them were out there

P: Have you a date on all of this?

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
C: That was early October 1965. They were playing at
LSU [Louisiana State University, at Baton Rouge] the
next day. It was the LSU game in early October

P: So you fed your concoction to this freshmen group in
a Friday afternoon game.
C: Yes.

P: What did you find out at the end of it? Were they
C: What happened was at the end of the first half, the B
team was ahead thirteen to nothing. They pushed
the freshmen around pretty good. In the third
period, the freshmen came out. They were pushing
the B team around. They scored two or three
touchdowns in the third period. In the fourth period,
they scored five or six more. The B team did not
even make a first down during the fourth period. At
the end of the game, Larry Rentz was kicking the
football and yelling, boy this is fun! Let us play
another quarter. Two of the B team guys who were
dragging by at that point said, "Oh, go to hell," and
continued plodding over to the gym to shower.

P: Nobody unfurled a big banner saying, 'Long live Dr.
C: No. Graves came up and said he was really
impressed. When I had told him we could probably
give him a better team during the fourth quarter and
we had surely done that.

P: He liked that.
C: Oh yes. He asked, can you make it up for the varsity
to use against LSU? I said sure.

P: You got your kettle out?

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
C: We went down to the lab. I had plenty of salt and
water. We were putting phosphate in it because it

P: Did you already figure out what the proportions were
of sugar, salt, and all of these other things?
C: Yes, so that one would get rapid absorption and so

P: Did you use it Saturday against LSU?
C: Yes, although we ran into a problem. When we got to
the lab, we [found] that I only had one bottle, 500
grams, of glucose. It was reagent grane glucose at
about $5 a pound. We needed about five kilos
[kilograms] to make up 100 liters which was what we
planned for the team. I called the pharmacy and
hospital stores; they did not have any glucose. I
called a pharmacy warehouse over in Jacksonville;
they did not have any. Dwayne Douglas came
walking by, and he said, I have a key that will open
every lab in the building. So we went up to the fifth
floor, and walked into Mel Fregly's lab. I think I got
four bottles out of there. Wendell Stainsby's lab
right next door had five or six more. Sidney Cassin's
lab had some more.

P: I hope you left an IOU in all of these places?
C: No, I did not. We got all the glucose we needed, went
down, and made up our stuff. We put it in a walk-in
freezer to get cold overnight. The next day, we had it
in two big carboys. We had 100 liters of it in these
carboys. I had them in a little red wagon and was
walking across the field where the Gators bench
would be. The public address guy came on and said,
it is 104 degrees on the playing surface today.
Because of the heat we expect to have nine or ten
people with heat exhaustion or stroke in the stands.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
The football players are not going to be affected
because they will be taking...and I thought damn,
who told them?...salt tablets, said the announcer.
Taking salt tablets would be just the wrong thing to
do because your sodium was already way up. That
would just run it up more and compound the
problem. I relaxed then. I got over to our bench.
They kicked off to LSU. The defensive team went in.
They finally stopped LSU at about the twenty-yard
line. The defense came out. The first three guys on
the bench were Bennett, a safety man; Benson, a
tackle; and Larry Gagner, a guard. They sat down
and the rest of the defense was sitting there. I
handed a cup of the stuff to Benson, and he said,
what is this? I told him, this is a glucose electrolyte
solution. It will replace [the water, salt, and sugar he
was losing because of the heat]. Not only would he
keep his energy during the game, but if he kept
drinking it throughout the game, at the end he would
feel better and be stronger. He took it and just
gluggled it all down, and wanted another cup. The
next guy was Gagner, and I handed him a cup. He
sort of sipped it. He said, this stuff tastes like piss.
He poured it on his head because it was cold, and
that would cool him off, which was one of the things
we wanted. I handed a cup to Bennett who was right
next to Gagner. He took it and sipped it. He said,
Larry, it does not taste like piss to me. He glugged it
down. Each time I came around during the first half,
Gagner would take his and pour it on his head. The
other guys would drink it and comment on how good
it was. I could not get into the argument at that time
because I had never tasted piss. Toward the end of
the first half, Gagner took his cup and drank it
down. He said, Doc, I have decided I like the taste of
piss. He drank a couple of cups every time he came
out after that for the rest of the game.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History

In that game, at the half, LSU was ahead thirteen to
nothing. They outgamed the Gators about 200 yards
to 50 yards. In the third period, the Gators stopped
them, and scored a touchdown late in the third
period. It was thirteen to seven. Then in the fourth
period, the Gators were really dominating play, but
they had not scored until about halfway through the
fourth period. They had a tackle whose name I do
not remember, but I know they threw a pass to him
and he went in for a touchdown. The Gators won
that game fourteen to thirteen. In the second half
they outgamed LSU by more than LSU had outgamed
them in the first half. It was something like 250 or
260 yards that they gained in the second half. I
think LSU made one first down and that was all.
Graves was again very impressed. After that, they
started using Gatorade in all of the games.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History

Oral History Resources in Florida

Bridget Bihm-Manuel

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is one of
the largest and best-known oral history programs in the
state, but it is by no means the only resource for oral
history in Florida. Most universities and other historical
organizations across the United States maintain oral
history collections of various sizes. These collections
usually focus on local history and culture, while others,
such as the Georgetown University Foreign Affairs Oral
History Project, the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill Southern Oral History Program, or the South Dakota
Oral History Center's American Indian Research Project and
the South Dakota Oral History Project, tend to be thematic
or regional. The collections in Florida fall into both
categories. The following is a list containing some of the
oral history programs in Florida and other organizations
that support oral history research and preservation.

Florida A & M University Regional Black Archives
and Research Center and Museum
Located in Historic Carnegie Library
Florida A&M University
Tallahassee, Florida 32307, USA
850-561-2604 fax
http: / / www. famu. edu / acad / archives

The Black Archives at Florida A & M University are
dedicated to "the collection, preservation, and
dissemination of information significant to African

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
Americans and their experiences and contributions in
Florida and throughout the Southeastern United States."14
Part of its collection includes oral histories of African
Americans in Florida.

Florida International University Cuban Living
History Project Archives
Catherine Marsicek, Latin American and Caribbean
Information Services Librarian
Green Library 225
University Park Campus
Miami, FL 33199
http: / /lacc.flu.edu/ centers_institutes/?body=centerscri li

Dr. Miguel Gonzalez-Pando was the founder of the Cuban
Living History Project at Florida International University.
His mission was to document the creation of Cuban Miami,
and he conducted many interviews with Cuban exiles as
part of the project. In 2000, Green Library's Department of
Special Collections created the Cuban Living History Project
archives in order to make Gonzalez-Pando's resources
available to researchers. Green Library also contains the
James Nelson Goodsell Photo Collection, consisting of
hundreds of images and video clips from Latin American
and the Caribbean. Many of the images include audio

14 "Quick Facts," http://www.famu.edu/acad/archives/qfacts.html.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
The Florida Oral History Association
PO Box 248107
Coral Gables, FL 33124
gregbush(aaol. com
http: / / dlis. dos.state.fl.us / barm / foha/foha.htm

The Florida Oral History Association, located within the
Florida Bureau of Archives and Records Management at the
Florida Department of State in Tallahassee, Florida, is a
statewide organization dedicated to coordinating and
assisting oral history programs throughout the state. It
promotes conferences on oral history and creates programs
for television, radio, and other types of media that attempt
to not only preserve the past but also expand knowledge
about Florida's culture.

Florida Southern College Center for Florida Studies
Dr. James M. Denham, Executive Director
111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive
Lakeland, Florida 33801
idenham(4ifl southern. edu
http: / / www.flsouthern.edu / flhistory /

The goal of the Center for Florida Studies at Florida
Southern College is to keep Florida history available for
students and the public. It trains schoolteachers of public
and private schools on Florida history, sponsors a lecture
series, and advises historical associations on preservation
of materials, including oral histories.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
Florida State University Reichelt Oral History
Dr. Robin Sellers, director
401 Bellamy Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32306-2200
rsellers(mailer.fsu. edu
http: / / www.fsu. edu / 0%7Eohp /index. html

The Florida State University Reichelt Oral History Program
began in 1969, and was directed by Professor Edward F.
Keuchel. In 1999, the program's name changed in order to
honor the memory of history Professor Emeritus Wallace
Ward Reichelt, who supported the program. The Reichelt
Oral History Program includes documents related to the
Florida State College for Women, the City of Tallahassee,
and the State of Florida. In 1995, the program also added
material on "military experiences," including material on
veterans and civilian personnel from World War II and the
Korean and Vietnam Wars. Other collections include
information on the Florida Teacher's Strike in the late
1960s, the social aspects of some Florida retirement
communities, and the black community of Macon in North
Florida before 1950. For students interested in oral history,
there is also an oral history course offered by the
university's department of history.

Kennedy Space Center Oral History Program
Elaine Listion, Curator
Elaine. Liston- l@ksc.nasa.gov
http: / / www.ksc.nasa.gov/ kscoralhistory /

The University of West Florida and the University of Central
Florida are working with Kennedy Space Center to help it
maintain an oral history program. The program collects
interviews with employees of the space center and "is
dedicated to the recording and preservation of the

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
institutional memory of Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station and other locations as deemed
appropriate." 1i There is also a UWF/UCF/NASA
Collaborative Internship Program that allows students to
work in the KSC Archives, with Delaware North Park
Services to prepare museum exhibits, or in the Webcast
studio to develop historical documentaries for web-based

South Florida Oral History Consortium
http: / / cwis.fcla.edu / sfohc/ SPT--Home.php

Miami-Dade public schools, the University of Miami, and
Florida International University came together to create the
South Florida Oral History Consortium in an attempt to
improve access to oral history programs and to promote
oral history as important part of understanding history.
The Consortium provides an Internet portal that allows
users to search oral history collections across the state for
information related to South Florida. Some of its activities
include training researchers in oral history collection
techniques, oral history preservation, and promoting
collaborative projects.

15 http://www.uwf.edu/publichistory/projects/

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum Maritime
Memory Project
Annemarie van Hemmen, Research Curator
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Inc.
81 Lighthouse Avenue
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
904-829-0745, ext. 218
stauglh(5,aug. com
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is involved in a
partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History
Project, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program,
and the Junior Service League of St. Augustine to maintain
a permanent oral history collection. The Museum gathers
information related to maritime history, underwater
archeology, and maritime military service after the Museum
was selected as a partner repository for the Library of
Congress Veterans History Project in 2004. The Museum
also sponsors maritime oral history programs for students
in conjunction with local schools, universities, and colleges
in Florida.

University of Central Florida Cultural Heritage
12461 Research Parkway, Suite 500, Room 135
Orlando, FL 32826
407-823-6103 fax
heritagealliance(,dm. ucf. eduo%20
http: / /sfdm.ucf. edu / heritagealliance /community. html

In 2002, the UCF College of Arts and Sciences and the
Department of State Florida Folklife Program created the
Central Florida Heritage Initiative, which later became the
Cultural Heritage Alliance. The Alliance includes two types
of programs, one focusing on community and education in
order to teach about folklife research, while the second

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
allows artists to use new types of technology. Part of its
goal was to create a Central Florida Folklife Archive that
includes oral histories and videos of local folklife.

University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History
Dr. Julian Pleasants, director
4103 Turlington Hall
P.O. Box 115215
Gainesville, FL 32611-5215
Telephone: 352-392-7168
Fax: 352-8461983
http: / / www. clas.ufl.edu/history / oral

The University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History
Program holds about five thousand interviews and 85,000
pages of transcriptions. It is the largest oral history
program in the South and one of the major collections in
the United States. Its holdings include material on Florida
folklife, heritage, and history in general. Its major
collection contains over nine hundred interviews with
Native Americans. Some of its other important collections
are related to Florida politicians, Florida newspapers,
Growth Management in Florida, a history of the University
of Florida, the UF Law School, the UF Medical School, the
Civilian Conservation Corps, African Americans in the
Korean War, Florida business leaders, and the UF Women's
Studies Program. The program also has a sound archive,
including speeches related to the University of Florida,
recordings of music, and Native American chants.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
University of Miami Oral History Program
Maria R. Estorino
Interim Head
Archives and Special Collections
University of Miami Libraries
PO Box 248214
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320
http: / / www. library.miami. edu / archives / ohp / mission. html

The Otto G. Richter the Library's Oral History Program,
started in 2001, focuses on the history of South Florida and
its unique immigrant communities. The program
"endeavors to facilitate oral history initiatives by collecting,
archiving, storing, preserving, and otherwise organizing and
managing the materials produced by disparate
organizations and individuals, and by making these sources
available to researchers and patrons interested in exploring
South Florida's history." 16 It consists of several different
collections, which are inventoried separately and named
after individual donators in order to maintain their
integrity. Some of these collections include the Instituted
for Public History Oral History Collection, the Valerie Lester
Pan Am Flight Attendant Oral History Collection, and the
lone Wright Pan Am Pacific Route Exploration Oral History

16 h .i 1 '. .library.miami.edu/archives/ohp/mission.html

Volume III, Spring 2006

Special Section: Oral History
University of South Florida Oral History Program
Dr. Martin I. Greenberg
Florida Studies Center
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave.,
Tampa, FL 33620
813-974-3417 fax
http: / / web.lib.usf. edu / flasc / oralhistory. html

In cooperation with the Florida Studies Center, the USF
Libraries' Oral History Program focuses on Florida history
and the history of Hillsborough County. Its collection
includes over three hundred documents, in areas including
political life in Florida, the history of the University of South
Florida, social justice and the economic and cultural
development of Tampa Bay. Many of its interviews have
been filmed in a digital format and are available for viewing
through its website.

University of West Florida Public History Program
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, Florida 32514
PublicHistory(,uwf. edu
http: //www.uwf.edu/publichistory/

The University of West Florida in Pensacola offers an M.A in
public history through its history department, and part of
its curriculum involves learning about oral history. There
are also a number of oral history projects associated with
the Public History Program, such as the Kennedy Space
Center Oral History Program; the Guantanamo Bay Oral
History Project, which involved interviews with Cuban exiles

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Oral History
living at Guantanamo Bay; a oral history study of the town
of Seaside, Florida; and the National Museum of Naval
Aviation Oral History Project, which was designed to
preserve the memories of the people linked to the United
States Navy and Pensacola Naval Aviation.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Gender and the Missionary

Benjamin Boyce

This article draws comparisons to the missionary
experiences of both colonial America and colonial India by
looking at historical episodes in the missionary discourse.
This study will focus primarily on the religious interaction
between men and women and the native people of America
and India. My contention is that the examples cited here
illustrate global implications. European empire building
required religious assimilation because religion was
inextricably tied to who colonists were and what they
thought their roles in empire building should be. Moreover,
religious tension in Europe (particularly in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries) added urgency to religious
efforts in foreign conquests.
In terms of religious interaction (though "collision"
may be a more appropriate word), missionaries on both
continents encountered faiths that were very different from
their own. Both the Indians and the "(American) Indians"
obeyed a polytheistic religious structure that was rooted, at
least on the surface, in an organic spiritual connection with
the natural world. There was a ritual component of both
brands of polytheism that went far deeper than the
practices of Catholic or Protestant doctrine. This was a
sharp contrast to monotheistic Christianity, which not only
avows that one God controls the physical and spiritual
world, but that worshipping other gods is a mortal sin.
This is an important distinction, because European
missionaries in America and India faced deeply entrenched
religions that were intertwined with the identity of the

Alpata: A Journal of History

Gender and the Missionary Experience
native people. The methods to combat this problem were
very different and were reflective of the culture that
pervaded Europe at the time. There was a distinct
difference in the way men and women addressed this issue
as well. There were multiple gender issues in these
episodes. The interface between male missionaries and
female natives, the different approaches of male and female
missionaries, and the reaction of church leaders to these
approaches all fall under scrutiny here. It is important to
examine the complex relationship between women, religion,
and empire on two continents in this context.
This is not a historiographical essay. It is part
narrative, part theoretical exercise and part linguistic
anthropology. The objective is to look at three distinct
periods in the missionary experience and draw conclusions
about the role of women and men, both Native and
European. From these three separate events, which detail
very different approaches to religious conversion, large
implications emerge as to how women were seen in the
various cultures represented.
What follows are three moments in the history of
missionary discourse. Though they are separated by over
two hundred years and thousands of miles, these three
episodes illustrate a dramatic shift, not only in the role of
the missionary in non-Christian lands, but in the role that
gender played in missionary tactics and policies. This
discussion begins in seventeenth-century New France,
where Jesuit missionaries realized that in order to "civilize"
the natives, they would first have to reverse the prevailing
gender roles practiced by the natives. More than two
hundred forty years later, missionaries in India took a very
different approach to winning the souls of the natives there,
an approach that impacted how the missionary movement
saw its future in so-called "heathen" lands. Finally, looking
through the lens of an early twentieth-century religious
tract allows one to see how the varied experiences of
missionaries affected church policy regarding men, women,

Volume III, Spring 2006

Benjamin Boyce
and their relationship to the heathen souls they were
attempting to save.
Missionary activity proceeded apace following the
discovery of the "New World" in 1492. To the devout of
Europe, commanded by their faith to spread the message of
the Gospel, mission work promised to be a worthwhile
venture. Christopher Columbus's description of the native
people he encountered in Hispaniola--deeply religious but
horribly misguided--certainly heightened the enthusiasm
among potential missionaries. The onset of the Protestant
Reformation in 1520 gave mission work new urgency to the
weary Catholic Church, which was exhausted and
indignant after centuries of fighting "infidels" in the
Crusades (the success of which was mixed, at best) and the
disaster of the Great Schism during the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries. In the wake of these debacles, it is not
surprising that two of the Catholic superpowers of Europe,
France and Spain, would make mission work an integral
part of their colonization efforts. Since religion was
inextricably connected to government, successful
colonization depended on the conversion, or total cultural
submission, of the natives. It was, quite simply, a matter of
pride as well as strategy. The conversion of natives in
foreign lands began as much more than an interesting
distraction from problems at home; it was an opportunity
for all Christians to consolidate strategic and spiritual
power on a global scale. To Catholics sailing across the
Atlantic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it may
have seemed that the future of their faith was in their
hands. 1
Carol Devons's article "Separate Confrontations:
Gender as a Factor in Indian Adaptation to European

1 Bartolom6 de las Casas, a member of Columbus's expedition to the New
World, wrote a disturbing account of Columbus's first meeting with the natives
on Hispaniola. In Historia de las Indias (A History of the Indies) he quotes
Columbus as saying the natives were "Una gente en Dios," which, in Spanish,
translates to "A people in God."

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
Colonization in New France" provides an interesting case
study of Catholic missionary efforts in colonial America.
Not only does her analysis provide a glimpse of Catholic
(specifically Jesuit) missionary tactics, but it also illustrates
that the chief problem facing the evangelicals was one of
gender, specifically the role of women in Native American
culture.2 Among the people of the Montagnais in New
France (as well as countless other tribes), women held
status and authority in society that was unheard of in
Europe.3 The men and women of the Montagnais had an
elegant and complementary relationship that
simultaneously fostered collaboration and autonomy.
Though men were responsible for hunting, the women of

2 Saint Ignatius Loyola founded the Jesuit Order in 1540 as an offshoot of the
formal Catholic Church. The Order had two expressed and interwoven
purposes: to further advance the Catholic gospel of Jesus Christ and to combat
the Protestant Reformation. The Order quickly gained a reputation for
fierceness for its methods both in Europe and in missions abroad. For our
purposes, Jesuit and Catholic may be interchanged to avoid repetitive language.
Source, Catholic Encyclopedia Online-
http://www. newadvent. org/cathen/14103a. htm.
3 Various historians echo this conclusion, which is based largely on
ethnographic research as well as first-hand accounts of missionaries. For further
discussions on this matter and the role of gender in European contact, see
Juliana Barr, "A Diplomacy of Gender," and Michelene Pesantubbee, "Beyond
Domesticity: Choctaw Women Negotiating the Tension Between Choctaw
Culture and Protestantism" in Journal of the American Academy ofReligion, 67
(June, 1999). In the article "A Diplomacy of Gender: Ritual of First Contact in
the 'Land of the Tej as"' (William andMary Quarterly, volume 63), Juliana Barr
presents an interesting case study of cultural miscommunication in New Spain.
This miscommunication had its roots in the divergent gender roles of the
Spanish, French and the Hasinais Indians. The lack of common language (a
"cognitive gap") between the Europeans and the Hasinais forced each party to
base their relationship upon mutual experience and cultural values. Barr
observes that Gender constructions were used to foment this relationship, with
Europeans and Natives searching for similarities within their different gender
roles. This breakdown in diplomacy was not the result of mere
miscommunication, but rather the conflict of entrenched cultural and gender
constructs that neither side was willing to part with.

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Benjamin Boyce
the Montagnais were responsible for the cultivation of the
killed animal and its distribution. Women worked
communally to ensure that the needs of the camp were met.
They managed the allocation of living space and the
selection of arable land. Women were also the primary
farmers, growing crops to supplement the meat brought in
by the men. On all aspects of camp life, men deferred to
women. To the amazement of the Jesuit missionaries,
women would give away meat, killed by their husbands,
without consulting them. This simple act, Devens argues,
illustrates Montagnais women's "autonomy and control of
particular resources while reinforcing a sense of community
and interdependence between households."4
While Montagnais women participated actively in the
community of the village, Montagnais men found their
identity alone in the bush, communing with the spirits that
might aid them in the hunt. This practice promoted
solitude; men did not frequently interact with each other on
long hunts. Their status in the tribe depended on their
success in the wilderness; however, this status was
dependent on the women's status within the tribe. If a
hunter's wife did not properly allocate the catch, then both
would suffer shame. Moreover, hunting was not the sole
domain of men. Though women left the killing of large
game to the men, they often hunted small game themselves,
as well as fishing to provide surplus foods, particularly in
the winter when large game hibernated or snow made trails
Most galling to the missionaries was the sexual
freedom enjoyed by Montagnais women. Both men and
women carried on extra-marital affairs, but women clearly

4 Carol Devens, "Separate Confrontations: Gender as a Factor in Indian
Adaptation to European Colonization in New France," American Quarterly 38
(1986) 462-63. According to Devons, her argument can be directly applied to
the surrounding tribes of New France, namely the Naskapi, Algonquin, and
Ojibwa Indians.
5 Ibid., 463-64.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
had the advantage. Montagnais women controlled their
own bodies and their sexual habits. This sexual freedom
gave women power within the community that was
consolidated through the act of child rearing. Men had
little to do with raising the children outside of ritual
education for young boys. Moreover, and perhaps most
nerve-wracking for Montagnais men, a woman was free to
divorce her husband at any time. This fact certainly kept
many Montagnais men on notice, because a man without a
wife was condemned to "live without help, without home,
and to be forever wandering."6
This was the society that Jesuit missionaries faced in
New France: one where women dominated politically and
sexually; where gender roles were at once distinct and
elastic; and where men had an important but distinctly
minimized role in society. There is nothing to suggest that
these missionaries were even remotely prepared to deal with
such a scenario. All of the Jesuit missionaries were men,
and because of the religious chaos in Europe, it was
unthinkable that women would even consider going.7
Everything about the missionaries' cultural background
made them diametrically opposed to the Montagnais
matrilineal system. The Christian faith in particular was
very explicit on the hierarchy of the sexes and their roles in
society. Though the rigidly defined gender identities of
Victorian Womanhood was better than two hundred years
away, the Jesuits brought with them the belief that women
belonged in the home where they would be the moral

6 Ibid., 467-68, 462.
7 Devens does not offer any opinion as to why only men initially came to the
New World. In her article "Women and Empire," Indrani Sen notes that empire
building carried connotations of "adventure, warfare, conquest and
administration," activities associated exclusively with manliness. I have come
to the above conclusion given the state of affairs in Europe at the time and the
nature of the Jesuit mission, which is to succeed at any cost. At its founding, the
Jesuits were a men-only organization whose duties would prohibit women
taking part under seventeenth century societal conventions.

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Benjamin Boyce
foundation of the household. It quickly became apparent to
the Jesuits that in order to secure religious conversion
among the Montagnais, they had to reverse the gender roles
of the natives. The missionaries needed a recognizable
corollary as a foundation. The Jesuits accomplished this by
capitalizing on what they perceived as the insecurities and
resentments of the male natives.
The Jesuits had much to offer the men of the
Montagnais. The teachings of the Christian God clearly
made men the dominant power while relegating women to a
subservient role. There was much more to it than that,
however. If women refused to convert, then all their efforts
amounted to was a one-sided change in perspective. The
Jesuits, deliberately but sometimes serendipitously, began
to dismantle the system that gave women their power in
society. Jesuits chastised the native men for allowing
themselves to be subservient to women, and found their
audience to be receptive. They ministered to men
constantly, again, meeting little resistance. The
Montagnais men were attracted to Christianity's
individualistic relationship to God: it mirrored their own
connection to the spirit helpers of the hunt. More
significantly, however, they encouraged the Montagnais to
abandon their semi-nomadic ways and settle in one place.
This suggestion had a two-fold benefit. It removed the
occasional responsibility of choosing campsites and
allocating land from the women. More importantly, it
reduced the formerly sprawling village to a confined space,
which made proselytizing more efficient, and established a
permanent trading settlement
This last change was more sinister than it appears at
first glance. Montagnais women traditionally provided the
village with supplemental food in the form of crops. With
the advent of sustained pelt trading, however, this changed
quickly and dramatically. The Montagnais had no need for

8 Ibid., 465.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
abstract currency, so they bartered the pelts for European
foodstuffs, reducing the village's dependence on female-
grown crops. Moreover, women traditionally held
responsibility for the conversion of game into wearables and
meat. This role too was stripped away. The high-volume
pelt trade forced women into the job of preparing beaver
pelts for trade rather than for shelter and subsistence.
Pelts were then traded for European clothes. Women, who
had maintained authority by bearing these responsibilities,
now were participating in a system that subordinated them
for the good of commerce.9
Naturally, Montagnais women resisted these changes
from the outset. Christianity had nothing to offer these
women other than its own version of salvation; in fact, they
had much to lose by its implementation. Nevertheless, the
Jesuits made initial attempts to convert women because,
ideally, they too had a role to play in this new religious
order. Women were expected to be the moral foundation for
men to prevent them from backsliding into sin. The
missionaries were handicapped by their own societal
limitations, however. They would go out of their way to
avoid being alone with native women, for whose sake is
unknown. One priest remarked, "it is not becoming for us
to receive them [women] into our houses." This meant that
the majority of religious instruction was going to the men.
However, the Jesuits obviously did not feel that women's
involvement was critical in the long run. When it became
too difficult to convert women directly, the missionaries
decided that women would be converted "by chance or by
male converts."10
Jesuits in New France had another way of dealing
with impenitent women. Through their exploitation of the
gender divisions and perceived inequalities that favored
women, Jesuits were successful in creating a real division

9 Ibid., 472.
10 Ibid., 465.

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between the sexes in the Montagnais tribe. Village men
came to the conclusion (with some assistance from the
Jesuits) that the women would not convert because they
did not want to relinquish their hold on power within the
tribe, leading to resentment, which blossomed into violence.
Jesuit accounts abound with stories of Montagnais men
who punched, kicked, chained, and imprisoned their wives
because they would not convert.11
The primary goal of the Jesuits mission in North
America was not to eliminate the culture of the natives they
encountered, though that was nearly the effect.12 The goal
was to convert "savages" to Christianity. The "earnest and
educated" men who came to North America were active
participants in the breakdown of the Montagnais society. A
European cultural framework that made them unable to
understand the Montagnais society directly influenced
them, and the heated and desperate religious climate they
came from made them unwilling to compromise. Anything
was justifiable to achieve victory in the war for souls. To be
sure, after the disastrous first half of the second millennia,
the Jesuits most certainly were at war.
Like most well-written historical analysis, Devens's
article raises many more questions than it answers. The
long-term impact of this "cultural genocide" is left vague, so
its effectiveness in perpetuating long-lasting economic and
strategic relationships is unknown. She does make it clear

'' Ibid., 466. The violent reaction of Montegnais men toward non-converted
women at the prodding of Jesuits stands in sharp contrast to the reaction of the
"Tejas" Indians of New Spain. When it became clear that the Spanish did not
respect the "Tejas" women, the men of the tribe became very upset and drove
the Spanish out. See Barr, "A Diplomacy of Gender."
12 Ironically, Devons suggests that the constant pressure from all sides on
women to abandon tradition may have actually helped that culture persist, at
least in racial memory. The argument maintains that the constant pressure made
women hold on to those values harder than they normally would have. This
argument is echoed in Pesantubbee analysis of Choctaw women's culture,
"Beyond Domesticity."

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
that women became responsible for maintaining some
semblance of the old order, but to what effect? Is this silent
refusal to fully assimilate Christian traditions and ideals
part of a larger pattern among Indian women? If so, how
effective was the Jesuit's pro-active, non-compromising
approach when the "converted" were merely going through
the motions publicly, but secretly were maintaining their
old ways and customs? The answers to these questions
may seem to be obvious, but they would not have been to
the Jesuit missionaries in seventeenth-century New France.
By the 1880s, the role of missionary had changed
significantly and so did the approach they took towards
their ultimate goal, saving heathens from themselves.
There was a panoply of factors that facilitated this change,
but there are a few that stand out in relation to this
analysis. By the nineteenth century, in contrast to the
chaotic and sometimes violent religious climate in Europe
that characterized the first six hundred years of the
millennia, tempers had cooled significantly. This was not to
say that Catholicism and Protestantism were not still bitter
rivals in the quest for global religious hegemony; they most
certainly were. By 1880, however, there were more
important challenges looming on the horizon.
Enlightenment thinkers had targeted religion (among other
things) as a source of ignorance, tyranny, and oppression.
This stance had grown in popularity in the eighteenth
century, inspiring revolutions in America and France.
More importantly, perhaps, was women's changing
role in European society. By the 1880s, the idea of
"Victorian Womanhood" had developed into a set of rigidly
defined parameters that structured women's role in society.
The idea of separate spheres was a key component to
Victorian Womanhood. Men's sphere of action was public
and material; women's sphere was private and moral.
Women of this era had a responsibility to be educated so
that they might instruct their husbands and male children
to be moral and ethical actors on the public stage. Religion,

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of course, figured heavily in this concept. Respectable
Victorian women were responsible for their family's
religious education. It was their responsibility to maintain
the moral integrity of their home, which was the key to
Victorian ideology because it was where all the moral and
ethical principles of men originated. The Victorian
Womanhood movement gave women awesome responsibility
while directing them to remain where they had been for
centuries: in the home.
The Victorian ideal of the home strongly mirrors that
held by the people cf India, a country that had become a
British protectorate in 1858. Missionary activity in India
had been in place for decades by the 1880s, but it was in
that decade that the Protestant mission movement finally,
though unintentionally, hit upon a successful formula for
converting the Indian people. The Victorian emphasis on
the home had not been lost on Protestant mission leaders,
and many searched for a way to gain access to Indian
homes and the women that oversaw their moral
foundation.13 There were some problems with this idea,
however. Primarily, some missionaries worried that the
Victorian ideal of the "home" might be lost on Hindus.
Hindus lack a word for "home" in their language, so it was
unknown how the message would be conveyed. This was
an intellectual and somewhat pedantic argument, but one
that caused many missionaries to wonder if it was worth
the bother. Additionally, due to the very strict gender
segregation that characterized India, male missionaries

13 Janaki Nair, "Uncovering the Zenana: Visions of Indian Womanhood in
Englishwomen's Writings, 1813-1940," 33. In this article, Nair notes that the
Zenana was also a prime location for the spread of Victorian ideology to
women. Indeed, she writes that the white women of the Zenana changed their
focus from religious conversion to education, "after which the undoubted virtues
of Christianity would be easily recognized." It is likely that the white women of
the Zenana changed their focus after they had had limited success with
converting Indian women, leaving the converted Indian "Bible women" of the
Zenana to take the lead in converting Hindus.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
were barred from entering private homes to minister to
women. In her article "Tamil Bible Women and the Zenana
Missions of Colonial South India," Eliza Kent describes how
important it was for the Protestant mission movement to
gain access to the women of India:
Indian women. . with their amulets and charms,
their daily devotions and rituals for ensuring the auspicious
condition of the home and its inhabitants. . had the
capacity, it was feared, to unravel the tapestry of Christian
understanding painstakingly created by Christian men and
their male students, converts and inquirers.14 In other
words, women were the enemy of Christian progress, not
because of their resistance to Christianity necessarily, but
because they were inaccessible.
The Zenana missions in Southern India were a self-
actualized group of white women missionaries and
converted Indian women. They developed their own
solution to the "women problem" in India: they, being
women themselves, were permitted access to the homes of
Indian women. They would become mobile in order to,
ironically, educate Indian women on the virtues of Victorian
Womanhood and protestant piety. They were not subtle
about their intentions, either. The stated goal of these
women was to "lay our hand on the hand that rocks the
cradle, and tune the lips that sing the lullabies. Let us win
the mothers of India for Christ!"15
It stands to reason that the white women
missionaries, despite having a distinct advantage over white
male missionaries, were not as successful as the Indian
converts who served as paid assistants in the missions.
The white women found that penetrating the complex web
of deities, rituals, social status, and caste systems was very
difficult, particularly when viewed through the jaundiced

14Eliza Kent, "Tamil Bible Women and the Zenana Missions of Colonial South
India." History ofReligions, Christianity in India 39 (Nov. 1999): 118.
15Ibid., 118-19, 117.

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eye of racism that was an unfortunate component of British
imperialism. White women found they had little in common
with their students, and the Hindu women found them to
be condescending. White Christians in India felt that
Hinduism was merely a collection of superstitions and that
Indians who practiced the rituals of Hinduism were merely
doing it because they did not know what else to do. The
prevailing view was that people would give it up if they were
offered something with real substance. Whether this was
ignorance or hubris Kent does not say, but it is for these
reasons Kent makes the Indian Christians (hereafter
referred to as "Bible women") the primary focus of her
The "Bible women," as they were known, had much
better success than their white women superiors. They
agreed with their superiors in theory; they believed that
Indian women would be receptive to the message of
Protestantism. Having been Hindu, however, they
understood how deeply entrenched it was in the everyday
life of Indians, particularly women. The Hindu woman's
role in the home was not markedly different from the
Victorian ideal. The Hindu's notion of home was as
pervasive and steeped in spirituality as the Victorian model.
It was a woman's responsibility to maintain the spiritual
integrity of her family's home. Hinduism could not simply
be written off as a collection of superstitions; the Bible
women believed that if Christianity was going to have any
success in reaching the people, then missionaries must
learn to adapt Christianity to the Hindu mindset. It was
this tacit acknowledgement of the value of Hinduism as a
useful instrument that gave the Bible women their
There were some difficulties presented by the Bible
women's plan having to do with entrenched gender

16 Ibid., 119.
7 Ibid., 137.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
dichotomies and class structures in India. Indian culture
placed firm restrictions on a woman's mobility outside the
home, restrictions that became inflexible after the British
occupation. For the Bible women, this meant that their
credibility as Indian women was compromised by their
necessary mobility. Moreover, in an effort to make
Christianity more palatable to lower-caste Hindus, the Bible
women adopted the singing style of the Vaishnavis, a
roaming group of spiritual entertainers popular among the
lower classes. This attachment to the Vaishnavis was a
double-edge sword, however. Though popular among the
lower classes, the Vaishnavis had been banned by the
middle and upper classes, which viewed the unmarried
women as common prostitutes. When negotiating India's
complex class structure, having an unfortunate association
could quickly lead to social non-existence. The Bible
women's status as unmarried, Christian women made them
both the best and worst people for the job of proselytizing to
Hindus. 1i
Indeed, the task of Bible women was very difficult
despite their status as Indian women, particularly among
the elite of Indian society. They were Indian, to be sure,
but they lacked the qualities most valued by traditional
Hindus (i.e. marriage and modesty) to be accepted by the
upper caste of Hindus.19 Their job was made all the more
difficult by India's cultural reaction to the British
occupation. As if to prove the superiority of their
traditional social structure to that of the conquering
British, upper-caste Indians strongly emphasized the social
strictures of Indian respectability. The growing Muslim
influence too, had an effect. Islam had been infiltrating
India for decades, but found new support because it was

18Ibid., 146.
19 Many traditional Hindus thought the Bible women to be immodest because of
their mobility; it was viewed as presumptuous and decidedly unwomanly to be
out roaming in search of souls to "save." Adopting the Vaishnavis' habit of
singing their lessons did not help.

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Benjamin Boyce
malleable and could be integrated into existing Hindu
tradition. It was especially popular among the upper caste
as it favored the wealthy and reinforced the segregation of
women from the public sphere.20
As a result of these changes, social transgressions
that might have been forgiven in the past resulted in severe
censure. The unfortunate association with the Vaishnavis,
for example, carried an extremely negative connotation. As
Sumanta Banerjee demonstrates in her article
"Marginalization of Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century
Bengal," "what used to be innocent fun, now held a threat
to domestic stability, thanks to the 'enlightenment."'21 The
Bible women quickly reversed direction and abandoned all
pretext of sexuality. They became ascetic, walking the
streets with no ornamentation, wearing plain white saris.
Despite repeated attempts to cater to the social conventions
of the middle and upper castes, the Bible women never
enjoyed their support. This episode taught them an
important lesson, however. They knew that they had to be
constantly aware of the impression they were giving their
Their task of emphasizing the home when dealing
with Hindu women was also fraught with peril. Because
the Hindu tradition was so intertwined with the concept of
home and motherhood, Bible women often crossed the line
between educating their audience and insulting them. The
various deities that occupied a Hindu person's home served
as "moral barometers" of the status of the home. If the
home fell into spiritual disrepair due to the moral weakness
of a family member, then any or all of the deities would
make their displeasure known in a variety of ways, such as
causing illness or accidents. These minor gods were very
important to the Hindu family. They helped maintain order
and encouraged the airing of grievances in the event of

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20 Ibid., 135.
21 Kent, "Tamil Bible Women," 146.

Gender and the Missionary Experience
moral crisis. For the Bible women to delegitimize these
gods struck at the heart of the Hindu family structure and
the women that governed it. Bible women were careful not
to suggest that these gods did not exist, even though that is
one of the key teachings of Christianity. Rather, they
agreed that the household deities did exist, using them as a
rhetorical device to debate the superiority of the Christian
Any success the Bible women enjoyed (and among
certain segments of the class structure, their success was
considerable) was due to the fact that they were brilliant
improvisers who were willing to interweave Christian
morality tropes with Hindu tradition. They were
accomplished Biblical scholars who could recite chapter
and verse to answer any question, which lent credibility to
their efforts. They found corollaries in Hindu and Christian
symbology and emphasized them, sometimes too much.23
Most importantly, they knew their audience and what they
wanted to hear. They were not afraid to make arguments
that, while not quite theologically accurate, were
nonetheless persuasive and compelling.24
In the end, the Bible women of the Zenana mission
found their greatest success in the lower caste. However,
this was due as much to the lower caste's rejection of
rigidly defined social strata as it was to the teachings of the
Bible women. Accepting Protestantism allowed the lower
castes to indulge in the trappings of the upper castes.

22 Ibid., 141.
23 Kent describes an encounter between Jesuvadial, an Indian convert, and an
unnamed Hindu woman that went awry. Jesuvadial observed the woman
conducting a ritual involving the water of Ramesvaram, which, according to
Hindu tradition, will wash away sin. Seeing the connection to the blood of
Christ, Jesuvadial began to excitedly proselytize to the woman until she finally
aroused the ire of the woman and her husband. The account ends with
Jesuvadial being chased off the couple's property. Kent, "Tamil Bible Women,"
24 Ibid., 142.

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Upper-caste status was conveyed by taking part in Hindu-
based societal rituals and by carrying accessories laden
with religious symbology. The attraction of Protestantism
then was that it allowed converts to take part in these
prerogatives of the upper castes because they were no
longer involved with the spiritual component. They could
refuse to play drums at religious festivals and carry an
umbrella (which conveyed majesty and spiritual protection
to upper-caste Hindus). Under Protestantism, these
cultural taboos had cotton teeth.25
Despite the less-than-noble motives that influenced
some in the lower castes to adopt Protestantism, it would
be wrong to assume that the Bible women did not have a
major impact. While it is true that they garnered few
converts from the upper caste, there were many reasons for
this. There were of course the various class-related
conflicts having to do with transgressing respectable social
behavior for women. What Kent failed to adequately
explore, however, is that like the Montagnais women two
hundred years prior, Hindus of the upper castes had
nothing to gain from Protestantism. They did not need
Christianity to consolidate their power. Hinduism, as
entrenched as it was in marrow of Indian society, was
incredibly effective to this end.
The real importance of the Bible women was not in
their results, but in their attempts. These unmarried, non-
Hindu women engaged in this task due to the fact that they
essentially shared two commonalities with their heathen
prospects: they were Indian and they were women. Given
the extreme complexities of India's caste system, these two
commonalities did not amount to much. Given the fact that
they attempted to transcend class divides and were willing
to trump gender conventions in the hope of reinforcing
those very same conventions made these women very
unusual. Part of their relative success was serendipitous.

25 Ibid., 126.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
They emerged at a time when Victorian values were clearly
defining the role that women were to play in the home,
challenging women with the responsibility of moral
compass and religious bedrock. In their role in the public
sphere they embodied the spirit of the Victorian challenge,
if not the letter of the law.
As with Devons's article, Kent raises many more
questions than she answers. Looking at the two articles
together reveals even more. I have formed my own theories
as to what motives Catholics and Protestants may have had
when setting out on a mission, but neither author
addresses it fully. How important was Catholic insecurity
in the sixteenth century when discussing proselytizing (and
by extension, conquest)? Does the fact that, by the 1880s,
Protestantism had not only survived the Catholic Counter-
Reformation but also flourished in Europe and America
gives the church (and its various denominations) the
confidence to allow the Bible women to try their rarified
form of proselytizing? Most importantly, perhaps, is who is
acting on whom? Were the Bible women of the Zenana
mission manipulating both religions to achieve an end that
basically amounted to a larger Protestant roll call, but no
real expansion of the faith? Were low-caste Hindus aware
of the Bible women's special brand of elastic Protestantism,
manipulating the women and the religion to achieve
justification for interloping into a higher caste? Admittedly,
some of these questions have no demonstrative value other
than evidence of my ability to think of them. The only
question that really matters is: If women were even
remotely successful at ministering to women, and women
form the foundation of society's moral and spiritual
foundation under the ideal of Victorian Womanhood, were
men now superfluous? Had the Bible women of the Zenana
missions usurped the power of spiritual transformation
from the men?
In 1915, an article in the Harvard Theological
Review entitled "The Protestant Missionary Propaganda in

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Benjamin Boyce
India" J. P. Jones presented an argument that clarified the
Protestant church's opinion on the evolution of women's
role in missionary work without ever addressing it outright.
In fact, the word "women" made only two appearances in
the entire twenty-six-page essay. Likewise, there was no
discussion of "gender," or public or private "spheres." Men
did not use these words in 1915. Despite the lack of overt
references to women, careful reading of the critique allows
the reader to glean the author's true meaning. Through his
clever and creative use of language (it was essentially
written in a turn-of-the-century version of political
correctness), author Jones managed to acknowledge the
advances made by female missionaries like the Bible
women of the Zenana mission while simultaneously
undermining their efforts. He accomplished all this with a
simple strategy: he changed the mission of the
Jones began by remarking on the "revolutionary
changes" he envisioned "[for] this great enterprise on the
mission field." The changes Jones referred to were not so
much a matter of method, but rather of motivation. Prior to
Jones's writing, the main inspiration for the missionary was
to ease the plight of the misguided heathens who were
doomed without conversion and baptism. This approach
was well intentioned, Jones wrote, but missed the point.
The primary motivation should have been the fact that
Jesus Christ commanded Christians to go forth and convert
the masses so that they might be saved. There were
important, though unwritten, distinctions in this change of
focus. Primarily, Jones was commanding missionaries to
get their priorities straight. If the focus on spreading the
gospel of Christ was subordinated to mere conversion of the
masses, then the message was lost. To put it another way,
missionary work should not have been focused on
converting as many "heathens" as possible. It should have
been to construct a message that reflected the true
teachings of Christ so that a genuine spiritual

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
transformation took place. This would benefit both the
heathen and the missionary, for Jones insisted that the
"supreme motive of a generation ago...has ceased to stir
men." Changing focus would have fostered a renewal of
motivation. To concentrate on alleviating worldly suffering,
whether spiritual or physical, served the heathen well in
life, but made them ill-prepared for the afterlife. However,
without the full weight of the missionaries' love for Christ
as a key part of the conversion, missionaries were merely
saving someone from Hell, not preparing them for
In advocating quality over quantity, Jones suggested
a shift from the micro to the macro approach to missionary
work. Indeed, individual conversion had its merits, but the
goal should have been in the uplift of the various races of
people who came into contact with the missions. This new
purpose would have reflected the benevolent objective of the
missionary, while fostering a larger role for the church
within those cultures that would have been uplifted. This
shift in direction correlated to a dramatic shift in how
Christians viewed their God. "We no longer think of the
Lord as the dread King of the Universe," Jones wrote, "but
as the infinite loving Father and Savior." The cosmological
relationship was no longer master and servant, but Father
to son. "The heathen," Jones suggested, "are no longer to
the missionary enemies to be shunned, but brothers to be
converted and won to membership in the great family of
When Jones wrote about changing focuses, or
changing the missionary's relationship to God, he was
actually talking about changing the language used to
describe that focus or that relationship. The first several
pages of his essay are a fascinating exercise in semantic

26 J. .P. Jones, "The Protestant Missionary Propaganda in India," The Harvard
Theological, Review 8 (Jan. 1915), 20.
27 Ibid., 20.

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Benjamin Boyce
validation. When changing the language from
master/servant to father/son, he was employing gendered
language to reinvigorate the legion of male missionaries
who have become disenchanted with the experience. This
disenchantment may have been due to the obstacles the
missionary felt from opposition of potential converts, or in
the successes, mediocre though they were, of female
missionaries. In both cases (and there could be, and
probably are, much more) this disillusionment had a female
basis. Make no mistake: this was a call to arms for male
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Jones's
treatise was not his desire to win "the soul of India," but his
simultaneous rejection of the methods employed by the
Zenana missionaries there. In addition to deriding those
missionaries who focused on individual conversions, Jones
disavowed the Victorian Motherhood ideal, suggesting that
the way to cement permanent, true conversion was by being
"a leader of men." The Indian people "have a genius for
docility," and "look for a high type of manly character and
sterling piety among their leaders, whereby they may easily
be inspired and directed." Moreover, the missionary who
sought to lead men to Christ should have exhibited extreme
piety. 'The missionary must be qualified and adapted to
reveal by life the highest spiritual type of his religion." True
leaders lead by example.2
If the reader will indulge a moment of pure
conjecture at this point, there are a few observations to be
made. The first is where the Indian people fit into the new
familial cosmological order established at the outset. The
heathens were our "brothers" to be welcomed into the
family. Though this language implies an equal relationship,
given the context, it most certainly does not. Ignoring the
gender question for a moment, let us look at this statement
contextually. Brotherhood does not implicitly suggest an

28 Ibid., 35-36.

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
equal relationship, particularly when one brother is
attempting to subvert the belief structure of another.
Moreover, Jones's advocacy of a strong "leader of men" was
especially telling. Again, forgetting the obvious gender
component of the statement (which is so obvious it does not
bear discussing), to suggest that the Indian people had a
"genius for docility" and were waiting to be led in no way
encouraged the missionaries to think of the "heathens" as
true brothers in Christ.
What Jones wrote was a playbook for male
missionaries seeking to reclaim their duty from the
feminized movement that had been pervasive in southern
India. There was evidence to support this conclusion. If we
accept that Jones wished the missionary movement to be
reclaimed by male missionaries who were couching their
true intentions in the vernacular of fraternity, then it would
have been ironic that Jones strongly suggested that male
missionaries learned to appreciate the religion of the
"heathens." He did, in fact strenuously advocate that
missionaries learn to acknowledge the genius of the Hindu
people. There was a pernicious reason for this, however.
Missionaries had to learn and appreciate the Hindu people
so that they might have become close enough to plant the
"seed of doubt." Essentially, the leader of the missionary
movement had to encourage the Indians to let their
spiritual guard down.
Jones knew his audience, and he respected his
reader if not their students. While he did not openly call
into question the methods of any specific group of
missionaries, he did provide many clues. His suggestion to
the future "leader of men" to lead by example was one
instance where his doubts came to light. His
recommendation for "extreme piety" and to "reveal by life
[emphasis added] the highest spiritual type of his religion."
Fundamental Christianity holds that women are
responsible for original sin and mankind's fall from grace.
Hinduism does not look kindly upon women either,

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Benjamin Boyce
relegating them to a subservient role in the church and in
society. It is likely that upper-caste male concern over the
public activities of the Zenana missionaries, particularly
their association with the disgraced Vaishnavis, prompted
this particular line of discourse.
J. P. Jones appeared to be responding to the
perception that women had assumed the dominant role in
missionary leadership, particularly in light of the hegemony
of Victorian Motherhood. Jones's response was to minimize
the role that women played by seeking a resurgence of male
dominated leadership. He wanted to take religious
conversion out of the private sphere and return it to the
public sphere. Jones did not advocate totally removing
women from the picture. Rather, he envisioned a system
where women lose their dominance and men once again
influence men. In that sense, he was like the Jesuit
missionaries in New France. Rather than working within
the present system, Jones and his ilk sought to subvert
women's influence to achieve what to him was a holy
objective. The fundamental teachings of all forms of
Christianity maintain that women cannot be trusted. This
teaching does not change in the face of societal trends like
Victorian Motherhood.
From these three encounters with missionary
discourse it is useful to draw some final conclusions. It is
clear that the role of the missionary changed dramatically
as the colonial enterprise changed. Women had been a part
of that change, whether as natives struggling to maintain
first their power in society and then their traditions that
were under attack, or as missionaries who saw a way to
create converts by co-opting Victorian ideology to suit their
means. It is very important to gender history to remember
that these women were not acted upon, but were dominant
figures in these cultural wars. That was what gives
primacy to Jones's tract. The conquest and subjugation of
the far-flung empire depended, so Jones saw it, upon

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Gender and the Missionary Experience
women being relegated back into a role that depended
entirely upon the freedoms that men would grant.

Volume III, Spring 2006

The United States-Israel Special
[Cultural] Relationship
The Story of How Jews and Israelis
became Ingrained on the American

Jason Goldman

The perception that the United States and the State
of Israel share a "special relationship," comparable only to
that of the United States and Britain, has become
commonplace in popular discourse on American foreign
policy. President Kennedy first used the term "special
relationship" to describe the relations between the two
countries in 1962. Since that time, and especially after the
developments of the late 1960s, many observers have
tended to agree with his assessment.1 However, as "special"
as that relationship might have been in 1962 or anytime
thereafter, many historians assert that the relationship
between the United States and the State of Israel was far
from inevitable in 1948 when Israel was created.2 Working
on that premise, I argue that the U. S.-Israel relationship,
which started as a rather ambivalent one in the 1940s and
early 1950s, evolved into a special relationship by the mid
1960s because of cultural affiliations between the two
countries.3 Although this argument places popular

1 H. W. Brands, Into the Labyrinth: The United States and the Middle East
1945-1993 (New York: McGraw Hill, 1994), 88.
2 Michelle Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy: Images of Israel,
1948-1960" Diplomatic History 20, no. 3 (1996): 357.
3 Brands, Into the Labyrinth, 88.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
culture, including religion, at the foundation of the "special
relationship," it is certainly not designed to be reductionist
or detract from the roles that domestic politics and Cold
War considerations played in the establishment and
continuity of that relationship.
It is particularly clear that cultural factors have
played a leading role in determining the course that the
U.S.-Israel relationship has taken. From a foreign policy
perspective, in an historical analysis of the United States'
Cold War strategy and interests within the Middle East (i.e.
Arab/Persian Oil and Client State Diplomacy), there
appears to be a considerable disconnect between the United
States' strategic and security interests and its policy of
offering virtually unwavering support to the State of Israel.4
Therefore, it has become worthwhile to investigate some of
the ways in which the U.S.-Israel relationship has
developed as well as why the United States's policy towards
Israel appears to come as commonsense to so many
Americans who could not imagine it any other way.
In an essay on the effect popular culture has on
states' foreign policy decisions, political scientist Jutta
Weldes argues, "state policy has a pervasive cultural basis
and. . that state action is made commonsensical through
popular culture."5 Weldes specifically addresses the impact
that popular culture has on United States foreign policy
stating, "in the case of U.S. foreign policy, the official vision
of international politics is constructed out of the cultural
resources offered by American society."6 These cultural
resources can be defined as the popular attitudes,
perceptions, beliefs, and other generally diffuse social
elements that combine to form shared communal identities
and frameworks from which particular communities view
themselves and others. Essentially, Weldes's argument is

4 Ibid., 90.
5 Jutta Weldes, "Going Cultural: Star Trek, State Action, and Popular Culture"
Millennium Journal of International Studies 28 (1999): 119.
6 Ibid., 119.

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Jason Goldman
the same as Richard Slotkin's, a historian and political
scientist who observes, "there is a 'reciprocal' relationship
between culture and foreign policy."7
Given this interrelation between popular culture and
foreign policy within the United States, it is fitting that
between the 1940s and the 1970s, which were the
formative years of the U.S.-Israel special relationship, some
of the "cultural resources" being offered by American
society for the first time allowed the portrayal of Jews in
two very positive, pervasive, and culturally relevant ways.
This article will focus on two such cultural resources first
actuated in the 1940s: the creation of an agreed-upon
image of the archetypal American masculine figure and the
revival of religious faith as a guiding principle in American
The first of these cultural resources became generally
diffuse throughout American popular culture during the
boom years following the Second World War. It allowed for
the recasting of Jews within the cultural economy,
especially in relation to Israel, as a courageous fighting,
resourceful, masculine, and innovative people (read:
American). The second cultural resource actuated through
the continued revival of religion in the United States, which
began in the late 1940s and 1950s, and allowed for the co-
opting of Jewish Zionism by evangelical Christians who
believed they were witnessing the second coming of Christ
in Israel.8 This religious framework set in the Judeo-
Christian heritage propelled the image of the Israeli Jew to
mythic proportions both in the minds of individual
Americans as well as in the mainstream and Christian-

7 Richard Slotkin, Gunflitgltr Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-
Century America (1 ic York, 1992), 356, quoted in Michelle Mart, "Tough
Guys and American Cold War Policy: Images of Israel, 1948-1960" Diplomatic
History 20 (1996): 357.
8 Lawrence Davidson, "Christian Zionism and American Foreign Policy: Paving
the Road to Hell in Palestine," Logosonline 4 (Winter 2005): 2.
www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.1/davidson.htm, accessed 1 January 2006.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
based media. The pervasiveness of this religious element in
American popular culture was evidenced by the fact that in
the twelve years between 1950 and 1962, blockbuster
biblical epics placed number one at the box office a total of
six times.9
These often overlapping cultural resources provided
for the two most significant changes to the image of the Jew
in American popular culture. These two bridges linking
Judaism and Israel to the popular culture of the United
States in the general media, in churches, and within
Christian media were the main reasons for the rapid change
in status of Jews and Israel during the 1940s until the end
of the 1960s. During this time, Jews as a group were
brought into the American cultural mainstream and Israel
became a reliable ally of the United States.
In this discussion on the discursive practices that
brought Jews and Israelis from the "outside, culturally and
politically speaking, to the 'inside' where they became
'kindred spirits and reliable allies of the Cold War,"' it is
most prudent to begin with the idea of what it meant to be
an American in the 1940s and 1950s.10 Equally important
in this discussion is how the old stereotypes of weak and
effeminate Jews faded away in the late 1940s giving way to
a much more masculine/Americanized Jew/Israeli.
According to historian Michelle Mart, in the "1940s and
1950s, the 'American way of Life' included clearly defined
gender roles" that was "not merely words or language" but
"a system of meaning according to which behavior is
polarized into two opposite categories according to which
we view the actions of individuals and national states."11 In
the already polarized Cold War world, which emerged at the
exact same time Israel came into existence, it was
desperately important for Jews and then braelis to fit the

9 Melanie McAlister, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the
Middle East, 1945-2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 44.
10 Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy," 357
11 Ibid., 378.

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Jason Goldman
ideal American masculine image in order to assert their
claims to 'insider' status and ally with America.12
Historian Neal Gabler addressed the irony inherent
in the fact that Jews, through their prominent roles in
America's entertainment media during the first half of the
twentieth century, actually played a large role in the
creation of the archetype of the American masculine image
that became diffuse in American popular culture during the
1940s and 1950s. In the opening pages of his book, An
Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood,
Gabler argues:
Ultimately, American values came to be defined by
the movies the Jews made. Ultimately, by creating
their idealized America on screen, the Jews
reinvented the country in the image of their fiction.
They would create its values and myths, its
traditions and archetypes. It would be an America
where fathers were strong, families stable, people
attractive, resilient, resourceful, and decent.13
This was what it meant to be American in the 1940s
and 1950s, and these images of America had been
cultivated since the turn of the century by the original
Hollywood Jews who pioneered the film industry.14 These
Jews gave America a huge part of its widespread Christian
morality-based identity. As ironic as that may seem, most
of these Hollywood Jews did not consider themselves
Jewish, but American instead. In fact, Lewis Mayer, the
second M in MGM Studios, had his birthday legally
changed to the Fourth of July because he considered
himself a supreme patriot.15 Mayer's idealized image of
America made its way into virtually all of the classic films
his studio produced during Hollywood's Golden Age. These

12 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 65.
13 Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood
(1I ic, York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1988), 6-7.
14 Ibid., 216.
5 Ibid., 79.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
Hollywood Jews were motivated in part by the desire to
cultivate an American culture unlike the former old world
cultures their families had emigrated from.16 Considering
the power American myths and characters held not only
over Americans, but over the whole world, it must be
concluded that these men were largely successful. Many
prominent political scientists and historians have written
about this type of cultivation process, in which the media
indoctrinates an entire society giving it a mass common
culture, extensively.
Famed authors and social critics Edward Said and
Toni Morrison have eloquently written about the cultivation
processes that still take place as a result of the ways mass
media portrays different cultures to themselves and to each
other. To Said and Morrison, the media plays a massive
role in creating what Said called "communities of
interpretation,"17 which in turn leads to what Morrison
called "official stories."18 These official stories can be
defined as the shared assumptions, values, widespread
perceived truths, and range of acceptable behaviors a given
culture shares in its views on a particular topic or story.
The reason why the media is so instrumental in the
creation and reproduction of the way a culture perceives
itself and other cultures, races, or social entities is because,
as Said put it, the media operates in "the world of power
and representations, a world that came into being as a
series of decisions made by writers, politicians and
philosophers to suggest or adumbrate one reality and at the
same time efface others."19

16 Ibid., 192.
17 Edward Said, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine
How We See the Rest of the World (1 ic York: Random House 1997), 36.
18 Toni Morrison, "The Official Story: Dead Man Golfing," in Birth of a Nation'
Hood: Gaze, Script and Spectacle in the O.J. Simpson Case (New York, NY:
Random House, 1997), 3.
19 Edward Said, "Between Worlds," London Review of Books 20 (May 1998): 8.

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Jason Goldman
Going back to the "cultural resource" of the ideal
American masculine image, there was some irony in the
fact that until the 1940s andl950s, Jews were generally not
included in the popular culture of an America that they
themselves had helped to create. Jews were writing and
directing the shows, but rarely staring in them as leading
men. There were many famous Jewish actors during that
time, but their 'Jewishness' was not generally put on
screen. This did not change until after World War II and a
recreation of Jewish identities within American popular
culture. Starting in the mid 1940s, the powerful Hollywood
Jewish executives, reminded of their own Jewish identities
and the plight of their people during the Holocaust, were
resentful of the fact that they could develop a billion dollar
global industry and direct American popular culture from
the arm chairs behind their desks, but still somehow be
considered outsiders. During these early post-war years,
from 1947 to 1949, the State of Israel was created, and
some of the movies that were produced during this time
provided commentary on the real world events that were
taking place, particularly in reference to ideas of Jewish
identities and masculinity.
In the aftermath of World War II, with the image of
European Jews as victims of the Holocaust, filmmakers and
authors first began to change that image by challenging the
stereotypes that called Jewish masculinity into question
This started with films such as Crossfire (1947),
Gentleman's Agreement (1947), The Sands of Iwo Jima
(1948), and Murder Inc. (1948), films in which producers
and writers consciously tried to change popular American
perceptions of what it meant to be Jewish.21 In all of these
films, filmmakers portrayed Jews in striking contrast to the
typical stereotypes that had been propagated about them in
American society since at least the beginning of the Civil

20 Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy," 363.
21 Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, 216, 299, 304, 349.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
War.22 Historically, American anti-Semitism has sprung up
around times of national and political crisis. The Civil War
arguably provided the largest national crisis in United
States history, and therefore, although Jews served in
prominent positions within both the Union and Confederate
governments and militaries, anti-Semitism spread as a
result of the war.23 During the twentieth century, the
interwar period and World War II provided no exception to
this general characteristic of American anti-Semitism, in
which discrimination reached its zenith.24 The Jews who
appeared on screen in the mid- to late 1940s, however,
were a contrast to the stereotypes in that they were heroic,
morally courageous, decent, hardworking men who all did
their part either in the war effort or in fighting evil within
the United States. This concerted effort was perhaps partly
responsible for the remaking of the popular image of the
Jews as wholly American/masculine and very patriotic,
which was how the Hollywood Jews actually saw
themselves all along.25
It would be wrong to assume that the popular image
of a masculine and heroic Jew, which was becoming more
common in the late 1940s and 1950s, was simply a
manufactured image created by American Jewish producers
and writers. The most significant part of the Jew's
transformation came not from Hollywood, but from the real
events that were taking place with the creation of the State
of Israel in 1948. Those events changed even American
Jews' identities and level of acceptance within the United
States. The early military successes and the innovative
undertakings that the Israelis were seeing in the deserts of
Israel benefited the identity of Jews everywhere in the late

22 Harry Simonhoff, Jewish Participants in the Civil War (New York: Arco
Publishing, 1963), 141.
23 Ibid., 141.
24 Lee J. Levinger, A History of the Jews in the United States, 20th edition (I ic,
York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1961), 355.
25 Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, 349-50.

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Jason Goldman
1940s and early 1950s. In fact, the argument can be made
that American Jews have Israeli Jews to thank for helping
to stomp out vestiges of American anti-Semitism. As one
historian saw it, "in forging an identification with Israeli
soldiers and their toughness, American Jews identified with
an image of masculinity that placed them firmly in the
mainstream of white American nationalist) images."26 The
culturally sensitive Hollywood Jews were fully aware of the
new Jewish masculine identity being born in Israel. A
Jewish film executive, Robert Blumofe, related the
Hollywood Jews sentiments about what was taking place in
Israel by saying, "we were no longer the stereotype of the
Jew: the moneylender, the businessman. These were
fighters and they were farmers and they revived the land
there. .. this was terribly uplifting."27
By the early 1950s, the newer image of the Jew was
beginning to take root in American popular culture. The
image of Paul Breines' "tough Jew" stood for a militarily
disciplined and morally courageous fighter who seemed to
always defeat his (Arab) enemies with righteous might, even
when the odds were stacked against him. There were
numerous parallels between the new "tough Jew" and the
old tough American. These similarities were not lost on
American popular culture, especially not at a time when
western films set in American deserts with John Wayne
characters fighting indigenous Native Americans was a
popular genre.28 The new image of the "tough Jew" fought
through oppression and left the past behind him in order to
build a free way of life in a new country endowed with
biblical significance. If this sounds like an American tale, it
should. These pioneering Jewish settlers were attacked
continuously by an indigenous (Arab) enemy but always
seemed to gain the upper hand, just like those John Wayne

26 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 194.
27 Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, 350.
28 Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy," 368.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
characters always seemed to do. As Mart put it, "the ideal
of a 'tough Jew' was built on a set of traits long prized in
American culture. Thus, 'tough Jews' are 'insiders' in
American culture because they are seen to exemplify
characteristics of ideal masculinity," an ideal masculinity
adopted by Americans for Americans but ironically
developed, at least in part, by Jews in the American film
industry long before Jews themselves were commonly seen
to exemplify those characteristics.29 This image of the
tough Jew not only elevated Jews both in Israel and
America to a more masculine/American status, it also
reminded Americans of the "pioneer on the frontier"
heritage they came from and what values and historical
experiences the two cultures shared. The news or
entertainment media might have promoted these images,
but they certainly were not manufactured in America. They
resonated in the hearts of Cold War Americans who needed
to believe in the virtues and superiority of their own
masculinity, decency, resourcefulness, and heritage in the
face of a Godless and outwardly masculine Soviet Union.
By the mid to late 1950s, American popular culture
became taken with Israel and its epic fights between
European-looking Jews and darker "Oriental" Arabs who
were widely perceived to be "dangerous, untrustworthy,
undemocratic, barbaric, and primitive."30 For this reason,
it should be said that America's enthusiastic interest in
Israel was not the result of Jews in the media informing
popular culture, but was a result of the military successes
the State of Israel had been enjoying. Those military
victories, which saw a small American-like democracy
devastate dictatorships and theocracies willing to take
communist handouts, reaffirmed the spreading of American
ideals and American prestige in a region of the world that

29 Ibid., 364.
30 Fawaz A. Gerges, America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of
Interests? (I ic,. York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 6-7.

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Jason Goldman
was becoming increasingly important to America and had
always lent itself to mythic images. Hollywood quickly
capitalized on this American infatuation with the "Orient"
and, in particular, with Israel. Some of the most striking
examples of this can be found in the releases of the films
The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), and
Soloman and Sheba (1959).31 In these films, striking
parallels between traditional American stories and the
creation and defense of Israel were being told through the
eyes of resilient and very American-looking Jews, such as
Charlton Heston. In The Ten Commandments, "the Zionist
story of Israel also became an American tale. Israel
emerged in the book and the film as an American-like
refuge that had been hard fought and won (morally,
politically, and militarily) from an indifferent world."32 In
these epic good versus evil films, released at the height of
the Cold War, it was very easy for audiences to make a link
between the slave states of ancient Egypt or Rome and the
modern Soviet Union, all of which viewed men as "the
property of the state." The equation of an American-like
free state (the nation of Israel) defeating a Soviet-like slave
state (ancient Egypt or Rome) was implied in the coded
messages that these movies carried.33
Astonishingly, the release of The Ten Commandments
in 1956, a film that depicted the soon-to-be Israelis
defeating the Egyptian army with God's help, coincided with
the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, in which a modern Israeli
army actually devastated a modern Egyptian one.34 This
unbelievable coincidence allowed audiences to watch a real
live biblical movie unfold in a different form of media, the
nightly news. It was almost a new form of entertainment in
which movies came to life. These real and fictional images
coinciding with one another could only serve to bolster

31 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 65-66.
32 Ibid., 163.
33 Ibid., 44, 65.
34 Ibid., 45.

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The US-Israel Special Relationship
Americans' sense of the superiority of their own way of life
and their religious heritage. Because of the multi-
dimensional nature of America's interest in and exposure to
Israel, America's "official story" on Jews and the State of
Israel had been constructed and accepted. As one historian
of popular culture and foreign policy aptly put it, "'film and
event speak to each other-event leading political resonance
to the fiction, the fiction providing mythological justification
for the particular scenarios of real world action."'35
American popular culture's relationship with Jews
and with Israel was truly a two-way street by the mid
1950s. By the 1960s, Israel's continued military successes
and the popular perception that Israelis were "a pioneering
people achieving miraculous development in the desert"
further strengthened the historical ties between America
and the American-like state.36 When the cataclysmic 1967
Arab-Israeli War broke out, the United States was already
considering its relationship with Israel a "special" one, but
that war took the relationship to new heights. This war
took place during America's failing adventure in Vietnam.
The easily juxtaposed images of the two wars spoke directly
to American popular and counter-culture because of the
perception that the Israelis went to war only out of
necessity and then mnce committed to the war fought in
order to actually win it.37 Israel's uncanny ability to make
short work of its numerically superior enemies also
contrasted with America's Vietnam experience. This image
of the morally justifiable exercise of decisive might served
as a reminder to many Americans of what the United States
had stood for before the tumultuous 1960s. In that sense,
Israel was something to hold onto during the crumbling of
consensus and the general anxiety of the time. The 1967
war also played a significant role in American popular

35 Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy," 357.
36 Ibid., 369.
37 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 157.

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Jason Goldman
culture because of Israel's retaking of the biblical city of
Jerusalem.38 This biblically significant and prophesized
event increased membership in the growing evangelical
Christian Zionist movement and widened many American's
interest in, as well as support for, Israel.39
As stated earlier, there were two very relevant
cultural resources present in American society during the
formative years of the 1940s to the 1970s. The second
cultural resource, which was also responsible for the
remaking of Jews/ Israelis as 'insiders' in American popular
culture and foreign policy, was the resurgence of religion in
American society throughout this time period. This was
relevant in relation to the common religious roots that both
Jews and the majority of Americans shared. By the 1950s,
religion was generally perceived to be not only anti-
communist, but in the words of one American theologian, a
person's religion and faith had become a "civic religion of
the American way of life."40 This religious element that
began during the 1940s and 1950s was central to the
establishment and strengthening of the U.S.-Israel
relationship because religious Americans, who even in
2006, "think little of foreign policy unless it can be linked to
their everyday lives, had already been conditioned to view
Palestine in romanticized biblical terms."41 Therefore, to
many Americans, "Israel was, and is still, an extension of
Sunday School, and in this mythologized form does touch
their lives."42 To the increasingly religious and still quasi-
isolationist American public, Israel was where the Jews
were supposed to be. Not only did the Good Book say so,
but movies and the nightly news also agreed, reaffirming
what was quickly becoming commonsense.

38 Davidson, "Christian Zionism and American Foreign Policy," 5.
39 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 165.
40 Ibid., 44.
41 Davidson, "Christian Zionism and American Foreign Policy," 4.
42 Ibid., 4.

Alpata: A Journal of History

The US-Israel Special Relationship
Long before the founding of the modem Jewish state
in 1948, American popular culture and politics had been
affected by this religious framework, which many
Americans used to view Jews and the State of Israel from.
This framework led to the birth and rapid growth cf what
has become known as Christian Zionism. Although
evidence of the existence of this movement can be found
long before the recreation of Israel in 1948, the effects of
the American Christian Zionist movement became more
abundant after 1948 and especially after the 1967 Arab-
Israeli War. This was not only a result of the founding of
the new State of Israel, the retaking of Jerusalem, and the
re-intensification of religion within American society, but
was also a result of the new ways that American media
marketed religion. An example of the early and more
secular marketing carried out by Christian Zionists can be
found in 1922, the same year that the U.S. Congress
passed a joint resolution supporting the creation of a
Jewish homeland in Palestine. An article appeared in the
New York Times that year referring to the Jewish
immigrants in Palestine as "Jewish Puritans. .. building the
new Judea as the Puritans built New England."43 Many
examples of such an American religious imperative relating
the pioneering proto-Israelis and the proto-Americans can
be found during this time. In the years following the
religious boom of the 1950s, these secular types of
evangelical Christian Zionist endorsements took a less
traditional American tone ("Puritans") and move d to a more
scriptural and surprisingly broader one (the "Second
The evangelical message that Christians
should support the State of Israel gained strength in
America throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, but it was in
the early 1970s, after Israel had completely retaken the
biblical city of Jerusalem during the 1967 War, that

43 Ibid., 3.

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Jason Goldman
Christian television, radio, and publications took their
familiar form and popular message. It was at this point
that the message/image of Israel and Jews as providers of
Christian prophecy really took off. By 1971, the city of
Jerusalem was hosting "The Jerusalem Conference on
Biblical Prophecy," organized by the American publication
Christianity Today. This first conference marked the
beginning of the Israeli government's widespread courting of
what in 2006 would be defined as conservative America
The Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, attended
the conference along with 1,500 American delegates to
whom the conference proved a stunning success.44 The
extent to which the evangelical movement and religious-
based support for Israel grew throughout the 1970s is best
summarized in the following excerpt:

"Two weeks before Jimmy Carter was
elected the first twentieth-century President to
claim membership in an evangelical
denomination, Newsweek magazine declared
the Year of the Evangelical, commenting on
'the most significant-and overlooked-
religious phenomenon of the 1970s: the
emergence of evangelical Christianity into a
position of respect and power.' The rise of
evangelicalism and fundamentalism had, in
the words of Richard Neuhaus, 'kicked the
tripwire alerting us to the much larger reality
of unsecular America "'45

By 1978, the year that the Likud party came
to power in the Israeli government, evangelical Christians
had already proven themselves a serious political force in
the United States and Israel had proven itself a reliable U.S.

Alpata: A Journal of History

44 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 170-71.
45 Ibid., 172.

The US-Israel Special Relationship
ally.46 The relationship established between the Likud
party and certain American political groups and politicians
saw the beginnings of a long-term marriage of interests
between Americans and Israelis. This perception is largely
responsible for the relationship that the United States and
Israel share presently. The cooperation between the
American and Israeli militaries and defense industries has
exponentially increased as a result of this perception, born
of the 1970s.
Also furthering the relationship between Israel and
the United States during this time was the fact that by the
mid- to-late 1970s and early 1980s, America had lost faith
in itself, largely because of oil shocks and terrorist acts
blamed on Arabs and Persians as well as the humiliating
experience of the Vietnam War. This general uncertainty
over America's own economic and military strength
(masculinity) was accompanied by the swelling of
evangelical Christianity. The combination of the growing
evangelical movement and the continued demonstration of
Israel's military prowess, in light of the United States' own
military woes, helped cement the close friendship between
the two countries.47
The overlapping of these American cultural
resources, in the form of a broader and deeper religious
faith (expanding unsecular America) and the growing
concern over a perceived loss of American military and
economic effectiveness (masculinity), manifested itself in
the political realignments and shifts within the United
States that took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
These events contributed to the convergence of military
conservatives-who after comparing America's experience in
Vietnam and Israel's long line of military successes, liked
the "fight to win" Israeli military ethic, and religious
conservatives-who liked Christian prophecy. These two

46 Ibid., 175.
47 Ibid., 165-67.

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Jason Goldman
elements of modern popular conservatism combined to form
the large base of what became the new conservative
In 1979, one year before Ronald Reagan's
conservative revolution swept America, Kevin Phillips, a
conservative intellectual who had worked with President
Nixon, picked up on the relationship between American
perceptions of Israel and the political realignments and
shifts within the American electorate. In his articles,
Phillips began to express concerns about the Israeli nexus
that accompanied the new "phenomenon of neo-
conservatism."48 Like Phillips, respected political scientist
and historian Melanie McAlister convincingly argued that
neo-conservatism, in both its 1980s and twenty-first
century manifestations, was actually a result of the
culmination of the United States' perceived interests in
conjunction with its cultural and political affiliations with
the State of Israel.
Never slow to commentate on social or political
phenomena, Hollywood once again put these perceived
American interests and the cultural/political affiliations
shared between the United States and Israel on the big
screen, in the 1986 blockbuster action-adventure movie The
Delta Force. In this action-packed quintessential 1980s
military movie, elite Israeli soldiers help American actor and
popular culture icon Chuck Norris lead his elite American
force into a major gun battle with Palestinian hijackers who
took control of an American airliner. Notably, among the
many innocent Americans onboard the plane, the story
focuses on a couple of Jewish Holocaust survivors, an
American priest, and vacationing U.S. Marines. The movie
does a great job of exemplifying the combination of the two
"cultural resources," and the dialogue from the trailer could
literally be used as a speech for a neoconservative
politician. In the trailer, the Palestinian hijackers are

48 Ibid., 192-93.

Alpata: A Journal of History

The US-Israel Special Relationship
referred to as "enemies of freedom," while the Holocaust
survivors, the priest, and the U.S. Marines onboard are
depicted as decent and upstanding Americans who work
together to defeat their common Arab enemies.49 The movie
is all about Israels and America's shared interests,
similarities, masculinity, rationality, effectiveness and
common enemies, who, it goes without saying, exemplify
none of those qualities. Accurate or not, these types of
powerful cultural images construct "official stories" and
provide frameworks from which Americans see themselves
and others. In the end, it all turned into commonsense and
consequently gets reflected in foreign policy.
There is a great deal of evidence supporting Melani
McAlister's conclusion that neo-conservatism was at least
partially a product of the U.S.-Israel relationship, all of
which could be traced back almost half a century within
America's growing conservative movement. This is not the
same as a Jewish neoconservative conspiracy bent on the
goal of directing U.S. foreign policy in the direction of
supporting Israel. This was deeper and more fundamental,
existing at the cultural rather than the political level. The
religious context/framework from which politicians and the
media-especially Christian media-were able to simplify
and make relevant U.S. foreign policy, at least in terms of
Israel, was clearly encouraged and practiced by
conservative leaders as far back as President Eisenhower.
This was evident in Eisenhower's ideological holdings,
exemplified by a comment he made during a speech he gave
while in office regarding the relationship between religion
and America's heritage. During the speech, Eisenhower
stated, "Our government makes no sense unless founded in
a deeply religious faith."50 One has to assume that the
"deeply religious faith" the President was talking about

49 Manahem Golan, The Delta Force (Los Angeles, California: MGM Home
Entertainment, 1986), videorecording
50 Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy," 367.

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Jason Goldman
would also be used in order to "make sense" of American
foreign policy.
In 1960, in an even less secular America, William
Culberson of the Moody Bible Institute shared publicly in
the growing belief that Jesus Christ's second coming was
rapidly approaching when he wrote, "Israel's rebirth was
the most striking of all the signs of an imminent Rapture.'1l
In response to Israel's complete retaking of Jerusalem in
1967, Nelson Bell of Christianity Today wrote, it "gives a
student of the Bible a thrill and a renewed faith in the
accuracy and validity of the Bible."52 In 1970, Billy
Graham, the best-known and most respected evangelist,
started the multi-million dollar multimedia marketing
campaign for Christian support of Israel with the evangelist
film His Land.53 This type of commentary on the Jewish
homeland and the message it sent calling for the overt
support of Israel is so pervasive among Christian
conservatives today that not a single day goes by when one
can not hear such speech on the national news and
especially on Christian talk radio. Pat Robertson's recent
comment that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's failing health
was a result of his agreement to grant the Palestinians
rights to certain parts of the Jewish homeland is a perfect
example of this type of support for Israel/prophecy within
non-secular America.
Today, American popular culture includes these
fundamentalist Christian beliefs. So does the core of the
Republican Party, which, not coincidentally also happens to
be the party with the broadest support and the party that is
currently directing American foreign policy. To any student
of the evolving relationship between America and Israel, the
policies that the U.S. has adopted toward Israel during the
past two and a half decades should come as no surprise.

Alpata: A Journal of History

51 McAlister, Epic Encounters, 169.
52 Ibid., 170.
53 Ibid.

The US-Israel Special Relationship
Instead, they should be seen as what happens when
popular culture, as it relates to nationalism and
international politics, becomes the stuff of commonsense
and is reflected in foreign policy.
It is important to realize that the two cultural
resources elaborated on above, in relation to their effects on
the U.S.-Israel relationship and the inclusion of Jews within
a common conception of Americans, were not aid are not
exclusive of one another. Mainstream media and mass
culture influence Christian conservatives. It also follows
that more liberal Americans are certainly influenced by
their conservative peers. These phenomena did not take
place in a vacuum and they obviously have fed and
continue to feed off of one another. Recently, popular
Christian media has been going mainstream, but it would
be wrong to assume that fundamental Christian views have
not always been influencing American popular culture and
politics. As a result of the two-way influential relationship
shared by Israel and the United States, the militaristic and
pious little State of Israel has established itself in the
American psyche more firmly than anyone could have
imagined in 1948. Brael's place in many American's
conception of the world has led to what should properly be
called a special cultural relationship between the two
natural allies.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Tasting Race
American Pie, Aunt Jemima, and
Immigrant Acculturation

Brittany Tevis

The history of food mirrors the history of humankind
in both length and complexity. Food, and notions of what
constitutes food, have gone through a dramatic
transformation over time and continue to do so. According
to a 2004 study conducted by the U.S. Department of
Labor, the average American spends 1.24 hours of every
day eating. With the addition of grocery shopping,
preparation, and cleanup, food and food-related activities
demand an inordinate amount of attention. Many
historians mistakenly relegate food to the sidelines of
history because it consumes so much time in our daily
lives; however, food demands historical examination for
precisely this reason.1
Foodways, according to historian Hasia Diner,
"include food as material items and symbols of identity."2
As such a symbol of identity, food played a pivotal role in
the lives of millions of European immigrants who came to
the United States between 1840 and 1920. Food acted as
an identification system, not only for the immigrants
themselves, but also for the country's dominant culture and
the outside world. Food precipitated Anglo-Saxons'
acceptance of "foreignness," literally and figuratively, by

1 United States Department of Labor, "Average Hours Per Day Spent in
Primary Activities for the Total Population by Activity Category, 2003 and 2004
Averages," http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.tl2.htm accessed 18
November 2005.
2 Hasia Diner, Hungeringfor America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in
the Age ofMigration (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003): 9.

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Tasting Race
way of consumption. Food also reflected immigrant
acculturation into the Anglo-Saxon mold of America. In this
essay I employ Matthew Frye Jacobson's formulations
about the alchemy of race in order to understand American
foodways. In Whiteness of a Different Color, Jacobson
writes, "race resides not in nature but in politics and
culture."3 As a component of America's "social currency,"
food demonstrates that "variegated whiteness" defined
America and Americans during the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries.4 After the passage of the 1924
Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, which limited annual
immigration rates to less than 150,000 individuals, food
also propelled the "homogenization of whiteness," a
"process by which Celts, Hebrews, Slavs and
Mediterraneans became Caucasians."5 Simultaneously, the
birth of Aunt Jemima the black mammy par excellence -
and black migration to the North and to the West initiated
the transformation of black food into Southern food. This
transformation deprived African Americans of their own
foodways, and thus enabled Anglo-Saxons to define blacks'
internal and external identities. Finally, following World
War II, Anglo-Saxon acceptance of "ethnic foods," in
juxtaposition to the rejection of "soul food" in the 1960s,
reaffirmed binary racial divisions according to color within
American society.

1790 1840: American as Apple Pie
Concurrent with the passage of the Naturalization
Act of 1790, which stipulated that potential immigrants
must embody the prescription of "free white persons" in
order to secure citizenship status in the newly formed
United States of America, the oft-used phrase "American as

3 Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants
and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999):
4 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 11, 52.
5 Ibid., 8.

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Brittany Tevis
Apple pie" took on a meaning of indigenousness and
tradition reflective of the ethnocentric and racist
foundations of the country. Antithetical to the metaphoric
"melting pot" of assimilated peoples, or the symbolic "salad
bowl" of acculturation that Americans utilized in order to
digest the intricacies of immigration and integration, the
euphemism "American as Apple pie" signified the
superiority of the English settlers who brought the tradition
of baking fruit-filled pastries with them from Europe. In his
work The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink,
historian John Mariani writes, "If something is said to be as
'American as apple pie,' it is credited with being as
American as The Star Spangled Banner.' In fact, apples
were brought from Europe to America, and apple pies were
very popular in Europe, especially in England, before they
came to epitomize American food. But Americans
popularized the apple pie as the country became the world's
largest apple-producing nation."6 Thus, to be
metaphorically "American as Apple pie" necessitated that
one must be white.
The story of Jonathan Chapman, better known as
Johnny Appleseed, also exemplified the bond between
Anglo-Saxons and apples in early American history. In an
1871 article featured in Harper's New Monthly Magazine,
author W. D. Haley labeled Appleseed "a Pioneer Hero."
According to Haley, Appleseed transported "a load of apple
seeds to the Western frontier, for the purpose of creating
orchards on the farthest verge of white settlements." As a
figure in Americans' imaginations about the origins of the
country, Appleseed performed a highly symbolic act, in
essence assuring Anglo-Saxons of their rights as Americans
by bringing them apples wherever they lived.7

6 John F. Mariani, The Encyclopedia ofAmerican Food and Drink (I ic York:
Lebhar-Friedman, 1999): 11.
7 W.D. Haley, "Johnny Appleseed A Pioneer Hero," Harpers New Monthly
Magazine, 43 (November 1871): 830.

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Tasting Race
African Ingredients
Much like Anglo-Saxons' characterization of
themselves, their exposition of Africans also relied on
associations with food. In fact, Anglo-Saxons' linkage of
Africans and food prompted the importation of Africans
from specific regions where Anglo-Saxons believed Africans
sustained superior rice-cultivating abilities. As food
historian Donna Gabaccia writes, "evidence even suggests
that planters consciously imported their slaves from that
region once rice cultivation became successful. Here, rice
appeared on the planters' table daily, prepared by black
hands." Anglo-Saxons selected Africans based on their
abilities to produce food.8
Americans legally imported African slaves into
America from 1619 until 1808. Throughout, and well
beyond, this 189-year time period "Africans were perhaps
the main shapers of eating customs in colonial areas where
slavery flourished."9 African slaves, who worked as cooks in
plantation kitchens, dealt firsthand with the foods that
Anglo-Saxons in the South ate. When Africans entered the
country "mainstays of the black menu were transplanted
from Africa: [including] yams, okra, plantains, and
watermelons."10 As black women incorporated their own
cooking styles and ingredients into the dishes they
prepared for white plantation owners, their foods became
elements of various regional cuisines in the South, "often
apparently without knowledge of their origins within the
accepting European population."11 For example, a West
African dish containing chickpeas and rice "became the
second classic dish of the [Southern] region--[named]

8 Donna R. Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of
Americans (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998): 31.
9 Ibid., 10.
10 Felipe Ferandez-Armesto, Food: A History (London: Macmillan, 2001): 63.
'' Richard Pillsbury, No Foreign Food: The American Diet in Time and Place
(Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1998): 46.

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Brittany Tevis
hoppin' John."12 Plantation owners also ate other African
specialties including gumbo and jambalaya.13
Anglo-Saxons failed to notice the exotic flavor of their
foods, first, due to Africans' positions as slaves. Analyzing
the relationship between race and class in the nineteenth
century, Jacobson states that, "race has been central to
American conceptions of property (who can own property
and who can be property)."14 Southern Anglo-Saxons
thought of Africans as property. Therefore, they found the
notion of Africans possessing property (tangible,
conceptual, or otherwise) unfathomable. In his essay "Equal
Opportunity Eating," Roger Abrams notes that "one [only]
need recall the ways in which such animal attributes have
entered into the process of social exclusion in American
history. Blacks have been legally designated as cattle
during slavery, and consistently discussed as coons, mules
or monkeys," so, although Africans cooked Anglo-Saxons'
food, Anglo-Saxons actually owned it.15 Ingesting and
enjoying food cooked by black slaves, whom they believe
they owned, enabled Anglo-Saxon plantation owners to
define such cooking as Southern.16
The appearance of African foods slipped past Anglo-
Saxons' cognition partly because of another development of
the nineteenth century: the primitive black Southern
mammy. Big, round, and dark, Aunt Jemima eventually
came to personify this stereotype. This development was
significant because the image of "the mammy cook has
[long] been invoked to help constitute 'whiteness,"' and thus

12 Pillsbury, No Foreign Food, 46.
13 Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 31; Pillsbury, No Foreign Food, 46, 142; and
Felipe Ferandez-Armesto, Food: A History (London: Macmillan, 2001): 163.
14 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 21.
15 Roger Abrahams, "Equal Opportunity Eating, in Ethnic and Regional
Foodways in the United States: The Performance of Group Identity, Linda
Keller Brown and Kay Mussell, ed., (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press,
1984): 35.
16 Ibid, 35.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Tasting Race
shaped both Anglo-Saxon and immigrant identities.
Although the image of the black mammy entered the
American mindset long before her official birth during the
twentieth century, Aunt Jemima institutionalized black
women's roles as black mammy and servant extraordinaire.

1840-1924: Immigrant Eating
The year 1840 initiated a period of great change in
the demographic makeup of the American population. Over
a one-hundred-year time span approximately 37 million
immigrants entered the U.S. from across the world. De jure
immigrant groups maintained citizenship status equal to
that of American-born peoples. Anglo-Saxons, who
entertained notions of racial superiority, ensured that these
newly naturalized citizens experienced no such equity in
American life. Notions of a "natural" racial hierarchy,
articulated by European and American thinkers including
Johann Blumenbach, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Morton,
Josiah Nott, and Charles Darwin, anchored Anglo-Saxons'
worldview. They typically perceived Italians, Irishmen,
Germans, and Jews not only as inferior citizens, but also as
inferior beings. 18
Anglo-Saxons applied their beliefs of their own
superiority, and of a scientifically verifiable racial hierarchy,
not only to immigrant populations but also to what these
populations consumed. The foods and dishes that
immigrants ate symbolized the immigrant populations
themselves. As historian Linda Keller notes, Americans
"frequently [used] foodways as a factor in the identification
of subcultural groups and find the traditional dishes and

17 Doris Witt, Black Hunger: Food and the Politics of U.S. Identity (I ico York:
Oxford University Press, 1999), 14.
8 See Matthew Frye Jacobson's Whiteness of a Different Color for further
discussion of Blumenbach's "five-tier scheme ('Caucasian, Mongolian,
Ethiopian, Malay, and American)" (p. 78.) and other notions regarding race in
the nineteenth century.

Volume III, Spring 2006

Brittany Tevis
ingredients of 'others' who eat differently from themselves
as a set of convenient ways to categorize ethnic and
regional character."19 The application of this process during
the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however,
did not result in the determination of ethnic character, but
of racial character. Prior to 1924, "strictly biological
understandings of race" trumped "cultural and
environmental explanations" that came to define ethnicity.2o
Therefore, during the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, eating spaghetti, for example, indicated one's
membership in the Italian race. As Jacobson explains, "for
those [immigrants] who arrived between 1840 and 1924,
New World experience was also decisively stamped by their
entertaining an arena where race was the prevailing idiom
for discussing citizenship and the relative merits of a given
people."21 Despite the fact that Anglo-Saxons used foodways
to identify immigrants, such processes produced racial
Many historians anachronistically claim that ethnic
identities emerged by route of foodways, and credit food
with the success of immigrant assimilation but such
assertions portray immigrant acculturation inaccurately.
Jacobson states that, "modern scholars are most
comfortable discussing Poles, Greeks, or Italians as 'ethnic'
or 'national' groups, and thus they tend to disparage and
dismiss the lexicon of white races that characterize an
earlier era."23 In Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and
Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration, Hasia Diner does
this when she claims that "the distribution and
consumption of food has been historically determined by

19 Linda Keller Brown ed., Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States:
the Performance of Group Identity (Knoxville: Universiy of Tennessee Press,
1985): 3.
20 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 99.
21Ibid., 9.
22 Brown, Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States, 3.
23 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 68.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Tasting Race
age, gender, and class," and that, "the histories of these
immigrant groups as they fashioned ethnic identities
around food stand on their own."24 Although Diner correctly
asserts that immigrants' identities hinged in part on their
food choices, such choices only augmented notions of
difference. To render nineteenth- and early-twentieth-
century immigrants' identities ethnic, as Diner does,
distorts immigrants' historical experiences and perverts the
process by which foreign foods penetrated raced-based
Anglo-Saxon institutions. By contending that food enabled
immigrants to establish ethnic identities prior to the middle
of the twentieth century, Diner effectively sugarcoats
The use of foodways as a system of identification
served the purpose of maintaining divisions between races.
Whites' "defense against hybridity--is precisely what [kept]

24 Diner, Hungering for America, 4, 20 (Emphasis added).
25 Gabaccia also conflated ethnicity with race in her discussion of immigration
and food in America. Gabaccia claimed that "culinary conservatives in ethnic
and regional enclaves" explained why "large numbers of potential consumers-
perhaps even the majority of Americans seemed unwilling or unable to
participate in the national food marketplace on a regular basis," regardless of the
fact that "new systems of transport, distribution, and corporate organization
increasingly linked the country's many regions into a single national market
place." (p. 37) Other historians who obfuscated ethnicity and race include:
Brown and Mussell (Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States: the
Performance of Group Identity), Richard Pillsbury (No Foreign Food: The
American Diet in Time and Place), James Hooker (Food and Drink in America:
A History), and Harvey Levenstein (Paradox ofPlenty: A Social History of
Eating in Modern America). Hasia Diner explicitly stated her opposition to
Jacobson's understanding of race in America. In her work The Jews of the
United States, 1654-2000 (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004),
Diner asserted that "Jews did not have to 'become' white," and added, in a
footnote, that historian I I.iillh,1. Frye Jacobson, Whiteness ofa Different
Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1998), [has] worked on the assumption that Jews had
to construct a white identity for themselves in America, a fact that I am here
contesting" (p. 165, 374).

Volume III, Spring 2006

Brittany Tevis
a racial group a racial group."26 Anglo-Saxons, accordingly,
constructed and reinforced racial groups using immigrant
foodways. The author of an 1879 New York Times article,
entitled "English and American Cooks," stated that "it is
essentially doubtful whether the Anglo-Saxons races are
inherently good cooks," and continued, "Jews and Catholics
(the latter not Celtic) are invariably better cooks than are
the Protestants or Methodists."27 Thus, although Anglo-
Saxons perceived certain races' foods as better tasting than
their own, they still maintained their own diets. More often
that not, however, Anglo-Saxons viewed European
immigrants' foods as unfit to eat. As historian Richard
Raspa explains, "Nativist Americans regarded Italians as
violent people--non-whites from southern Europe who
practiced Roman Catholicism, displayed socialist
tendencies, and enjoyed quaint and often disgusting
food."28 Clearly, Anglo-Saxons usually found the idea of
eating immigrant food unthinkable.
Regardless of the stigma attached to these foods,
immigrants continued to consume the foods that they had
enjoyed in their countries of origin. Because America
offered a much larger array of foods, spices, and meats,
immigrants often altered their favorite recipes, just slightly,
by adding a new spice or substituting one type of meat for
another. By and large, however, immigrants proceeded to
cook and eat those foods consumed by previous
Some immigrant populations maintained their
traditional diets so extensively that they imported certain
foods from their countries of origin. As a result, Native -born
Americans perceived such food choices as indicative of

26 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 3.
27 "English and American Cooks," New York Times, 12 October 1879, 9.
28 Richard Raspa, "Nostalgic Enactment of Identity," in Ethnic and Regional
Foodways in the United States: The Performance of Group Identity, Linda
Keller Brown and Kay Mussell, ed., (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee
Press, 1984): 187.

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Tasting Race
immigrants' difference, and thus food reinforced
immigrants' racial identities. Immigrant rejection of
American foods did not bode well with Anglo-Saxons, and
especially upset Anglo-Saxon politicians. As suggested by a
New York Times article entitled "Supply Here, Food We
Bought Abroad: Mayor's Committee Sees No Good Reason
for Importing Spaghetti," foreign food remained prominent
in the hearts of Italian immigrants, much to the
consternation of Anglo-Saxons.
For Italians, Jews, and others, food enabled
immigrant groups to retain remnants of their pasts.
Immigrants underwent great physical and emotional
transformations upon arriving in America, including
learning a new language, altering their dress, and
reshaping their notions of national identity. Unlike
language or clothing, which operated as externally
perceived aspects of identity, food functioned internally,
allowing immigrants to retain their sense of self, which
explained Italian immigrants' continued ingestion of
noodles "bought abroad."29
As immigrants settled into the country, many opened
public restaurants that functioned as familial operations.
Although the owners of these restaurants by no means
discouraged outside patronage, immigrant restaurants
almost always catered strictly to members of their own
racial groups. As "Italian restaurants began appearing in
New York and Philadelphia in the 1890s," while open to the
public, "these Italian restaurants targeted their Italian
neighbors."30 Similarly, Jewish bakers catered to Jewish
Just as "spaghetti eaters" were identified as members
of the Italian race, bagels identified those who consumed

29 Additional examples of immigrant groups who imported foods from their
countries of origin include the Japanese. See Gabaccia's We Are What We Eat p.
50 for more information; and "Supply Here, Food We Bought Abroad," New
York Times, 23 August 1914, 5.
30 Pillsbury, No Foreign Food, 155.

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Brittany Tevis
them as members of the Hebrew race. In 1880, after the
second wave of Jewish immigrants began arriving in
America, "only Jews from Eastern Europe ate bagels.'31
Jewish bakers commonly sold bagels to Jewish consumers
on Sunday mornings well through the 1920s, while very few
Jews, or any other peoples, indulged in bagels on
weekdays. As "bagel magnate Murray Lender [(the original
owner of Lender's Bagels and a Jewish-American)] noted,
'Even up to the 1950s, you literally could not give a bagel
away Monday to Saturday."32 Lender's Bagels postwar
marketing slogan--"You Don't have to be Jewish [to eat
bagels]"'--demonstrated that, indeed, prior to the mid-
twentieth century one must have been Jewish to eat
Racial "outsiders" consciously refrained from dining
at foreign eateries, but foreign restaurants did not go
without notice. The claim that outside populations lacked
awareness of these foreign restaurants fails to explain why
Anglo-Saxon patrons abstained from eating at these
establishments. An 1885 New York Times article, entitled
"The Restaurant System," chronicled New York's
transforming character and specifically "the [rise of] foreign
table d'hote restaurants" in the city.34 This article
demonstrated that, at the very least, a consciousness of
"foreign" restaurants existed within the Anglo-Saxon
population. This article also highlighted Americans'
proclivity to blur national identity and race during the late
nineteenth century. In a discussion about the meaning of
nationality and race during this era, Jacobson states that,
"immigrant nationalisms were particularly prolific in
generating and sustaining distinct racial identities.'75
Although the author of "The Restaurant System"

31 Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 3.
3Pillsbury, No Foreign Food, 153.
33 Ibid., 155.; and Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 5.
4 "The Restaurant System," New York Times, 24 May 1885, 3.
35 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 9.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Tasting Race
emphasized the novelty of foreign restaurants, the author
noted, "as the quality of the guests and food improves, the
national dishes disappear."36 Thus, "the Italian cook shows
stronger inclination to a hybrid cuisine than to the
unadulterated and savory dishes of his mother land.'"7
Because nationality and race maintained virtually
synonymous meanings during the nineteenth century, the
author's reference to the disappearance of "national dishes"
referred to the disappearance of race. However, since the
construction of race identified specific groups of peoples,
neither the food nor the individuals lost their race, nor one
race supplanted another as guests in the restaurant. The
Italians themselves never changed; Anglo-Saxons merely
replaced them, hence "the quality of the guests and food
Just as Anglo-Saxons identified different races by the
foods they ate, immigrants also utilized foodways in order
to identify "true" Americans. In We Are What We Eat,
historian Donna Gabaccia recalls the comment of one early
twentieth-century Italian immigrant, who stated, "'it never
occurred to me that just being a citizen of the United States
meant that I was an 'American.' 'Americans' were people
who ate peanut butter and jelly on mushy white bread that
came out of a plastic-package."'39 In immigrants' eyes,
eating white bread denoted one's authenticity as an
American. Similarly, in Anglo-Saxons' eyes, eating bagels
marked one's membership in the Hebrew race, and eating
spaghetti exposed one's kinship in the Italian race. Simply
put, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
Americans and immigrants understood the proverb "you are
what you eat" quite literally.

36 "The Restaurant System," May 24, 1885.
37 Ibid.
38 Ibid.
39 "The Joy of Growing Up Italian," in Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, Villa Maria Teresa, Hubbard, Ohio, La Cucina dell' Amore: The Kitchen
ofLove (Youngstown: Ralph R. Zerbonia, 1990), xx, cited in Gabaccia, 55.

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Brittany Tevis
The Birth of Aunt Jemima
Simultaneous to the period of large-scale European
immigration, three events altered America's population
demographics: the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's
1863 Emancipation Proclamation, and the ratification of
the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, which abolished
slavery in the United States. Between 1910 and 1940, large
numbers of African Americans moved from the South to the
West and the North. As they moved, they took their distinct
culinary styles and cooking habits with them. The spread of
African Americans also resulted in the dissemination of the
stereotype of the black mammy. The propagation of the
imaginary Aunt Jemima, symbolic of all African Americans,
permanently tied somatic black women to the kitchen.
Ultimately, African Americans' dispersion throughout the
country and the success of Aunt Jemima as an advertising
tool, culminated in the transformation of recognizably black
foods into "Southern food." The resulting historical
descriptions of griddlecakes, fried chicken, hoppin' John
and gumbo as Southern food, instead of as black food,
irreversibly appropriated African foodways. This process is
particularly noteworthy because the "homogenization of
whiteness," and, later, the later solidification of binary
racial divisions in America, relied, in part, on the
appropriation of African foodways.40
In 1893, at the Chicago World's Columbian
Exposition, R. T. Davis, the owner of the R .T. Davis Milling
Company, cast former slave Nancy Green as the first Aunt
Jemima. Davis purchased a ready-made pancake mix and
the trademark image of Aunt Jemima from Chris Rutt and
Charles G. Underwood, two friends and co-owners of a
small flourmill.41 The original concept came to Rutt at a
blackface team's performance of a "New Orleans style
cakewalk to a tune called 'Aunt Jemima,"' during which the

40 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 95.
41 Witt, Black Hunger, 26.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Tasting Race
performer donned "'the apron and red-bandanna headband
of the traditional southern cook. "'42 Aunt Jemima embodied
"the image of a wise old cook from the Deep South of Civil
War times, who had brought her secret pancake recipe to
benighted northland."43 When Aunt Jemima first entered
the market in 1889, she quickly became one of the most
successful advertising images of all time, selling white
Americans a "slave in a box" and the idea of traditional
"Southern food." The strategic linkage of black food to the
South, as opposed to racial character, slyly negated any
relationship between Africans and African foods.44
Aunt Jemima's success as a marketing device
reaffirmed African Americans' inferiority in the minds of
Anglo-Saxons. Many northbound black women took jobs as
household servants, a position that required them to care
for children, clean, and cook for Anglo-Saxon families. Real-
live Aunt Jemimas entered the homes of Anglo-Saxons who
lived in the North, feeding them griddlecakes, fried chicken,
hoppin' John, and gumbo. While Anglo-Saxons welcomed
these foods into their homes, "Aunt Jemima's [supposed]
culinary superiority" blinded Anglo-Saxons from recognizing
these foods as examples of black cooking.45
One may argue that Aunt Jemima's popularity as a
pancake maker demonstrated Anglo-Saxons' recognition of
her superior cooking skills, and by extension,
acknowledgement of African Americans as competent and
even talented cooks. The viability of Aunt Jemima as an

42 Ibid.
43 Ibid.
44 The phrase "slave in a box" is the title of M. M. Manring's work Slave in a
Box: The Strange Career ofAunt Jemima (Charlottesville: University Press of
Virginia, 1998); and Witt, Black Hunger, 26.
45 Manring, Slave in a Box, 83; and Alice A. Deck, "'Now Then-Who Said
Biscuits?' The Black Woman Cook as Fetish in American Advertising, 1905-
1953," in Kitchen Culture: Popular Representations ofFood, Gender, andRace,
Sherrie A. Inness, ed., (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001):

Volume III, Spring 2006

Brittany Tevis
advertising tool, however, merely exhibited how deeply
Anglo-Saxons believed in Africans' total inferiority. Symbolic
of all African women, and arguably of all African peoples,
Aunt Jemima's appeal rested on the fact that she
"reinforced the social position of white middle-class America
as higher than that of black people."46
Anglo-Saxons welcomed Aunt Jemima into their
homes because she served as "a labor-saving device." The
suggestion that Aunt Jemima retained an organic
inclination for making pancakes "contributed to the
widespread naturalization of black women's culinary
abilities, in effect denying [that] their cooking, as slaves and
as domestic servants, was a form of expropriated labor."47
Such "widespread naturalization" of Africans' skillfulness in
the kitchen appeared in an 1879 New York Times article
entitled "English and American Cooks," in which the author
claimed, "the colored cook really has more genius and an
innate consciousness about preparing a dinner than many
a white person."48 This comment affirmed that blacks
produced better food than Anglo-Saxons; however, the
author attributes the high quality of blacks' food not to
talent but to "innate consciousness." Aunt Jemima's
success, therefore, does not demonstrate Anglo-Saxon
appreciation of black culinary talent. Rather, each time
Anglo-Saxons purchased or ate Aunt Jemima's pancake
mix, they sent Aunt Jemima back into the kitchen,
symbolically re -enslaving African Americans, and
reasserting their substandard position in society.49
Finally, Anglo-Saxons' penchant for tasty foods
explained their efforts to salvage "Southern food." The
literal and figurative distastefulness of would-be black food
caused quite a dilemma in the Anglo-Saxon world.
Physically internalizing the food of an inferior race meant

46 Manring, Slave in a Box, 83.
47 Witt, Black Hunger, 36.
48 "English and American Cooks, New York Times, 12 October 1879, 9.
49 Deck, Kitchen Culture, 80.

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Tasting Race
internalizing the race itself. White Americans simply
enjoyed black cooking, and in order to reconcile their
hunger and their heads, black food became tied to the
South and to the name "Southern food," establishing its
Incongruent with Anglo-Saxon efforts to infuse
Italian, Hebrew, Irish, and other immigrant foods with
racial traits, the redemption of black food via name change
initially appeared odd. Historical context, however,
explained this effort to salvage "Southern food." Ironically,
while most Northerners supported abolishing slavery, they
also maintained strict racial separations. Conversely,
Anglo-Saxons in the South maintained extremely intimate
relationships with blacks while simultaneously supporting
the institution of slavery. Noting the personal relationship
between female African American slaves and the Anglo-
Saxon women for whom they toiled, in Roll, Jordan, Roll,
Eugene D. Genovese explains, "Ole Mammy, or merely 'the
cook,' usually ran the kitchen with an iron hand and had
learned what she knew from generation of black
predecessors. What Missus knew, she usually learned from
her cook, not vice versa."51 While one can argue that
Southerners recognized African Americans' culinary skills,
Genovese's classification of such foods as "Southern" is
undoubtedly problematic. Similarly, in his discussion of
Mary Randolph's 1825 cookbook titled Virginia House-Wife,
Richard Pillsbury writes "the role of African Americans in
the elaboration and regionalization of the southern diet is
very apparent."52 Even after correctly identifying the origins
of the foods that he discusses, Pillsbury, like Genovese and
other historians, incorrectly insists on labeling those foods
formulated, cooked, and served by black people as
"Southern." Identification of fried foods, griddlecakes, and

50 Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York:
Vintage Books, 1972): 540-41.
51 Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, 540-41.
52 Pillsbury, No Foreign Food, 122.

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Brittany Tevis
gumbo as Southern permanently occurred in the minds of
white Americans as the result of the birth of Aunt Jemima
and the migration of blacks north and west.53

1924-1950: Taste Testing Ethnicity
In 1924 Congress passed the Johnson-Reed
Immigration Act, limiting annual immigration to 150,000
individuals, and thus "[marked] the beginning of the ascent
of monolithic whiteness."54 The differences among peoples
that Anglo-Saxons deemed significant prior to 1924 "[lost]
their salience in American culture and disappear altogether
as racially based differences."55 According to Jacobson,
three major events propelled this process: a steep decline in
immigration, additional by-products of blacks' migration
out of the South, and finally, the events in Nazi Germany.
Simultaneous to and in conjunction with these events,
significant advances in food production and distribution led
to the homogenization the American diet. As a result of
these processes, Anglo-Saxons and immigrants started to
consume foods outside of their immediate palates.56
Canned goods served as a major force responsible for
the popularization of immigrant foods. The production of
canned foods enabled Anglo-Saxons to consume immigrant
foods while denying such foods' origins. Originally invented
in France, canned foods entered America with the original
settlers. In the 1880s, cans encased baking powder, coffee,
nutmeg, and a variety of other ingredients, and by the turn
of the century Americans embraced canned goods with
open arms. In an 1896 New York Times article entitled
"Midsummer Cookery: Canned Goods Much Better Than
Stale Fruit or Vegetables," writer Juliet Corson shared with
readers the wonders of canned goods. According to Corson,

53 Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll, 540 41.
54 Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 93.
55 Ibid., 92.
56 Ibid., 95.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Tasting Race
"there is no kind of dish that cannot be imitated with
canned goods."57
The rise of canned goods during this period was
significant in relation to the spread of immigrant foods for a
number of reasons. As first-generation immigrants passed
away and second-generation immigrants became
increasingly comfortable in America, they felt less inhibited
about their foodways. Immigrants' confidence in themselves
as Americans prompted them to produce their own canned
goods. This, in turn, enabled immigrants to literally
package their foodways and ship them all over the country,
both asserting and reassuring immigrants of their physical
place within and throughout America. Ironically, Anglo-
Saxon consumers easily disassociated canned goods with
their racial origins because, on grocery shelves, cans were
detached from their immigrant lineage. As Gabaccia
explains, "before World War II, ethnic businessmen who
succeeded in national markets most often did so by selling
either products with no ethnic label attached."58 Therefore,
while Anglo-Saxons saw "No Good Reason for Importing
Spaghetti" prior to the turn of the century, by "the 1920s
Americans had begun to accept [Italians'] 'signature dish,'
spaghetti and tomato sauce."59 Tomatoes, like many other
vegetables, were readily available canned. The
popularization of spaghetti, outside of immigrant Italian
communities, demonstrated the slow process by which
Anglo-Saxons accepted Italians both physically and
symbolically. That such foods became edible during this

57 "Cans: A Visual History," Canned Manufacture's Institution,
http://www.cancentral.com/brochure/default.htm accessed 12 December 2005;
"Canners Aid Government," New York Times, 6 May 1917, 7; and Juliet Corson,
"Midsummer Cookery: Canned Goods Much Better Than Stale Fruit or
Vegetables," New York Times, 12 July 1896, 22.
58 Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 121.
59 Levenstein, Paradox ofPlenty, 29.

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Brittany Tevis
time signified the initial paradigm shift from race to
ethnicity in Americans' minds.60
Although Anglo-Saxons began eating "foreign" foods,
they did so hesitantly. Early twentieth-century cookbooks
revealed such reluctance and practical denial of the
consumption of immigrant foods. In an extensive discussion
of cookbooks during this time period, Pillsbury notes that
foreign foods were "almost totally absent"61 from cookbooks
between World War I and World War II because of "intense
anti-immigrant sentiments."62

Colonel Sanders and the Invention of Fried Chicken
In 1954 a man named Harlan Sanders opened a fried
chicken restaurant franchise named Kentucky Fried
Chicken. Better known as KFC, the restaurant's success, as
well as the legend and image of Colonel Harlan Sanders,
completed Anglo-Saxons' appropriation of black foodways.
According to KFC legend, Indiana native Harlan Sanders
developed the secret KFC recipe while working as a cook, at
a diner, in Corbin, Kentucky. Before he established KFC,
Sanders "carried the secret formula for his Kentucky Fried
Chicken in his head and the spice mixture in his car."63 As
the recognizable face and image of KFC, Colonel Sanders
physically embodied a pre-Civil War Southern plantation
owner. According to Levenstein, "prominent in [KFC's]
marketing was the avuncular, white-haired, white-goateed,
white-suited 'Colonel' Sanders amiably presiding over
happily munching children."64 KFC's triumph as a fast food

60 For further discussion of the impact of canned goods on the American diet see
Richard Hooker's Food and Drink in America; and Levenstein, Paradox of
Plenty, 29.
61 Pillsbury, No Foreign Foods, 127.
62 Ibid.
63 "About KFC: Colonel Harlan Saunders,"
http://www.kfc.com/about.colonel.html, accessed 12 December 2005; and
Levenstein, Paradox ofPlenty, 229.
64 Levenstein, Paradox ofPlenty, 229.

Alpata: A Journal of History


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