Yale and Brown co-host ‘Slavery and Global Public History Conference’

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In 2006 Brown University and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale hosted an international symposium on slavery and public history. Since that conference the field has grown exponentially.

Now the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gilder Lehrman Center, and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice will reconvene Dec. 1–3 at Brown University in Providence, RI, to examine the proliferation of slavery-related museums, exhibitions, and public intellectual challenges across the world.

Speakers will include major scholars, curators, and university and public officials, as well as public historians, who grapple with problems of representation, memory, and meaning. Ruth J. Simmons, president emerita of Brown University, will give the keynote address on “Universities and the Problem of Slavery.”

Over the past two decades, museums and historic sites across the globe — new and old, public and private — have wrestled with interpreting slavery and its legacies. “The integration of previously untold stories into exhibitions, programs, art, film, and memorials has opened up new and complicated ways of interpreting this history,” write the event organizers. “The work of popular memory has forced redefinitions of race, nation, citizenship, community, and belonging.

“The legacies of slavery remains one of the world’s most vexing challenge,” they add.

The conference will pay special attention to critical questions that are central to the challenges of understanding slavery and its global public history, such as: How do we confront the past — as nations, cultures, and individuals — when that past is deeply implicated within the structures of the present? What kind of work does history and memory do?

To view the conference live, visit Brown’s Live Stream Channel.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University; and The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale; with support from the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.

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