Eli Rubin has written a wonderful book that does not just tell a fascinating story about an important but much neglected subject, but also manages to link this story to much broader historiographical, and indeed ontological, questions about the intersections between space, on one hand, and power, time and lived experience on the other.
On the 18th of June, 1556, Mr Francesco, a second-hand goods dealer with a shop near the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, borrowed two Greek manuscripts from the collection that would later become the heart of Venice’s famous Marciana library: Proclus on Platonic Theology, and The Commentary of Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras.
Although ostensibly a book focused on New Orleans, in Slavery’s Metropolis Rashauna Johnson uses the experiences of individuals and groups of African heritage who resided in the city, as well as those who left from, arrived in, and passed through from local and transnational locations to outline a theory of ‘confined cosmopolitanism’.
Cities and towns are places of movement and mingling, coming and going, settling down and moving on, and they always have been. The fluid dynamics of urban life have long fascinated artists and preoccupied people in power.