Sunday, August 07, 2022

Pg. 99: Karen Eva Carr's "Shifting Currents"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shifting Currents: A World History of Swimming by Karen Eva Carr.

About the book, from the publisher:
A deep dive into the history of aquatics that exposes centuries-old tensions of race, gender, and power at the root of many contemporary swimming controversies.

Shifting Currents
is an original and comprehensive history of swimming. It examines the tension that arose when non-swimming northerners met African and Southeast Asian swimmers. Using archaeological, textual, and art-historical sources, Karen Eva Carr shows how the water simultaneously attracted and repelled these northerners—swimming seemed uncanny, related to witchcraft and sin. Europeans used Africans’ and Native Americans’ swimming skills to justify enslaving them, but northerners also wanted to claim water’s power for themselves. They imagined that swimming would bring them health and demonstrate their scientific modernity. As Carr reveals, this unresolved tension still sexualizes women’s swimming and marginalizes Black and Indigenous swimmers today. Thus, the history of swimming offers a new lens through which to gain a clearer view of race, gender, and power on a centuries-long scale.
Follow Karen Carr on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Shifting Currents.

--Marshal Zeringue