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I've been following this thread with great interest & just want to throw in a couple of comments on the notion of Africanisms surviving in American culture. 1. In the case above I think it's entirely plausible that Freedom could have used 'spirit marks' that go directly back to an African tradition. It would help to know if he was born in Africa or America, his parentage/ethnic origin, etc. to support & flesh out this assertion but there are many examples, particularly from the 18th century, of documented African cultural survivals in the new world. 2. Some important work has been done on Africanisms in African American culture by Shane & Graham White (Stylin': African American Expressive Culture from its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit), who read runaway ads from the 18th century & find many examples of various African expressive cultures(scarification, tooth modification, hairstyle) mentioned in descriptions of escapees. Michael Gomez does similar work in the first part of _Exchanging our Country Marks_ (which, incidentally, gives a complex analysis of the African cultures that are represented in the new world; new research seems to be indicating that West Africa has been over-emphasized in the literature as a source of peoples & cultures in the slave trade while other regions have been under-recognized.) Additionally, from the archaeological record, objects which may be nkisi made from modified coins, buttons, etc. have been found at several plantation excavations in places like Maryland & Tennessee. 3. Though I find the argument that various cultural ideas, practices, symbols, etc. survived the middle passage not only plausible but sensible and documentable as noted above, I think the myth of the 'quilt code' is an entirely different kettle of fish. In addition the other criticisms of the quilt code story offered on this list, the code mythology doesn't allow for the complexity of cultural transmission, survival, and change in the real-time stream of history. In particular I'm uncomfortable with the idea that there could be a one-to-one undiluted correspondence between what might have been done in particular African cultures at one moment in time and what was done by the descendents of those Africans in a different country 100+ years later, or symbology in West Africa today being related directly back to the alleged quilt code like a kind of dictionary. There's more than a hint of essentialism in such assertions; as if cultural practices are embedded in the DNA and unaffected by time, circumstance, creolization, etc. 4. As for the quilt code as a 'usable past' for teaching elementary school kids--when I was in 5th grade in Alabama many years ago, I was told that slaves 'had no history' because they 'didn't leave any written sources behind' and therefore we couldn't know anything about the slave experience. I am not a fan of using the quilt code per se, but it seems to be a small step in a better direction if kids are actually being asked to make some kind of imaginative leap into the slave experience. Clearly it would be preferable not to teach them fictions, but judging from my students they also come to college with Besty Ross and the Pilgrim Thanksgiving firmly etched in their minds as Fact. Though I'm being facetious, at least the quilt code myth broadens the number of historical populations who are enshrined in the American Hall of Feel-Good Stories.