The World They Made Together by Mechal Sobel - Book Report/Review Example

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The World They Made Together by Mechal Sobel al Affiliation The World They Made Together by Mechal Sobel In The World They Made Together by Mechal Sobel tackles the eighteenth century slavery where Africans were taken to America to work as laborers. The book mainly tackles the influence that Africans and their culture had on whites and their culture wherever they went in the United States of America. The main thesis of the author is, “Wherever Blacks lived in eighteenth century America, they affected the collective consciousness, and people in all classes- the elite, the middling sort, the poor and the slaves- shared values” (Sobel, 1988, p 233).
The influence that Africans brought about was immense such that by the end of the eighteenth century, both blacks and whites shared family, clan, culture and folk histories that had already integrated. Sobel does not just tell stories about the eighteenth century life without evidence. She uses electic evidence by stating that the fact that blacks and whites in the south worked or lived in close proximity influenced the perception that each group had on reality. This influence was great such that there was a shared conception of space, identity, time, causality, home and other aspects in both the two groups. To sum up her assertion, Sobel acknowledges that despite the fact that the blacks and white groups were two different worlds, there existed a symbiotic relationship between them that must be tackled to understand the two groups deeply (Sobel, 1988).
In her analysis of the worldviews present in between the two groups, Sobel relies on the definition of world view from Luckman, which states, “an encompassing system of meaning in which socially relevant categories of time, space, causality and purpose are superordinated to more specific interpretive schemes in which reality is segmented,” (Sobel, 1988). This definition as used by Sobel encompasses the lives of the two groups in an all-round manner.
In organizing her thoughts, Sobel has divided the book into three major parts, each tackling a different aspect. In the first part, Sobel discusses the attitudes of the two groups towards time using evidence from Virginian slave owner’s private diary records of work behaviors. In this section, she also looks at the understanding of causality and purpose. In the second part, Sobel addresses the attitudes of the two groups with respect to outlooks of space and natural world. Here, she relates aspects such as Africans and English peasants having similar domiciles in the medieval period. The third section tackles religious worldviews of the two groups under the aspects of causality and purpose, which are reflected in issues of death and life after death. Here, Sobel acknowledges that the two groups believed that there was life after death despite differences in the belief on the causes of death (Lyman, 1988).
As Apple (1989) acknowledges, Sobel’s analysis features aspects such as attitudes, beliefs, habits and the reproduction of artifacts revolving around issues of time, work, space and the natural world among other things. Through the above issues, Sobel manages to create a clear picture of the influence that Africans had on whites especially in the South during the eighteenth century (Apple, 1989).
In conclusion, Sobel has exhaustively shown the manner in which Africans and whites intermingled irrespective of their status in the society and influenced the cultures between them. She has used various evidences, for instance the private diaries of slave owners in Virginia to justify her thesis.
Apple, J. (1989). Review of The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in
Eighteenth-Century Virginia, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 97, No. 1 (Jan., 1989), pp. 97-99
Lyman, S.M. (1988) Review of the World They Made Together: Black and White Values in
Eighteenth-Century Virginia American Journal of Sociology Vol. 94, No. 3 (Nov., 1988), pp. 681-683
Sobel, M. (1988). The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-
Century Virginia. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Read More
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