Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Feedback Discussion Presentation

I gave a presentation Developing Mormon Urbanity at the Interdisciplinary dissertation colloquium on Monday, April 7th, and got reams of interesting observations and feedback.

  • In German the carding machine is the machine for kardieren. It would be good to know which power source the machines used---animals, steam, water---in the times of Joseph Smith Jr?
  • Among the missing pieces of infrastructure in the plats are graveyards; where would they have gone.
  • I believe that the land records were destroyed or lost for Far West, but I may be misremembering this; I need to verify that this is so.
  • If there is an evolution of Mormon thinking with respect to the shared property---e.g. the United Firm in Kirtland, Ohio; tithing; etc.---then should this not be reflected in the land arrangements as well?
  • The arrangement of Zion and Far West exhibit an early industrial setting, where the agriculture is being pushed to the sides, but where no accommodation is yet made for manufacturing, as far as the plan shows. Since this is before the use of fossil fuels to power land movement (including the train), there is the necessity to have stables to achieve any form of transportation of heavy goods on land at all.
  • In this context, it would be interesting to know if the separation of the stables to the sides that the Zion letter prescribes [if that interpretation is correct, it could be that the horses were exempt] was actually executed in the plan for Far West, or if the newly shaped parcels also supported the horse stables within the city---a more practical solution if one takes into consideration that having to walk out of the city to get the horse and the wagon sounds like a pain.
  • There is a relationship between the social system of family and the individuals that make up this system that is obfuscated by the fact that wealth and worth is always discussed in terms of the head male of the system. But the families are actually much richer in structure, more clan like almost, as the case of Joseph Smith Jr shows, where the family can include old parents, adopted children---Julia and Joseph nee Murdock, for example--and boarders---such as Oliver Cowdery or Marie and Sarah Lawrence, who were to play such a decisive role in the negotiation process of polygamy between Joseph Smith Jr and Emma Smith (nee Hale).
  • The flip side of this model of the family is the spatial representation of that social system in terms of the single-family lot that makes up the basic Zion system. What does this say with respect to alternate models of integration, or is the lot size considered sufficient to allow for some fudging, similarly to how the first Smith-Hale house in Harmony was on the land of Emma's father? An alternate example might be the woman that Martin Harris kept on the side, which took the form of a family home. 
  • One would expect that the rate of death made the patch work configuration and reconfigurations of relationships, which was already problematic in the times of the Salem Witch trials, fit even less with such a rigid alignment system (but again, maybe the lot size buffers this).
  • The double origin of the Far West plat, as a combined inspiration of a Missouri county seat and an implementation of the Zion plat, needs to be made more explicit.
  • In the age of Joseph Smith Jr, the connection between social capital and economic capital is fascinating, because the one has significant impact on the other.
  • Some of the agricultural changes are document in Heinrich Albert Opperheim's book 100 Jahre, which incidentally ends up in the US of A (from Germany).
  • More information about the actual way city planning happened and what the consequences were would help distinguish better foreground and background.
Finally, the research necessary to look into these issues and answer these questions has given me separate ideas that might be worth pursuing.
  • I believe that Joseph Smith Jr saw the location of Independence, Missouri, for the dedication of the temple, before he sent out that plat. If this is true, then some of the features of the plat are related to the actual geographical setting (e.g. the absence of road and water sources).

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