Preservation’s Existential Crisis - Marisa Angell Brown, Ph.D. (John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities)

When:  Monday, October 26, 2020, 12:00pm

Where:  Zoom

Category:  Center for Cultural Analysis

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In the US, a struggle is under way to tell a more accurate story about the past. Across the country, educators are revising curriculum units on Black and Indigenous history, activists are demanding the removal or recontexualization of public art that promotes white supremacy, and a new generation of writers and artists are articulating a radical critique of the racial hierarchy and violence that has shaped American history and identity. Where does preservation fit into this movement? Not comfortably – and possibly not at all. A fundamental problem is that the urgent need to radically remake the built and interpreted environment to tell a more accurate and just story of our past is in conflict with the mission of preserving many of our “historic” sites. That is, we can have preservation, or we can have spatial justice, but it may be that we cannot have both. This presentation considers the dimensions of preservation’s existential crisis, and offers thoughts on the structural changes that would need to take place at all levels – from policy to culture to curriculum – for the field to survive this era of historical reckoning intact.

Zoom Link

About the CCA Public Humanities Working Group

This working group includes scholars from across the Rutgers campuses who are interested in the Public Humanities. Cross-departmental and interdisciplinary by nature, this working group focuses on building communication between the university community, the scholarship it generates, and diverse publics. The group hosts seminars, lectures, and other events focusing on the relevance of the humanities in contemporary public life, acting as a forum for graduate students and faculty who are interested in learning more about the public humanities to be introduced to key concepts and debates in the field. Topics addressed range from community outreach, public writing, project management, experiential learning and engaged pedagogy, digital humanities and beyond. This working group is conceived of as an adjunct to graduate students’ traditional classroom instruction in the humanities, to connect them with the expertise of faculty and local public humanists, and motivate reciprocal collaboration outside of the academic sphere. Ultimately, this working group seeks to explore the variety of ways that humanities scholarship can be co-created alongside, shared with, and generated for a wider variety of audiences.

Co-organizers: Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan (History), Meredith McGill (English), Swathi Gorle (Art History)

Please note that University operating status may cause the need for the meetings to be done remotely.