AHP readers will be interested in a recently released special issue “Going Public: Mobilizing, Materializing, and Contesting Social Science History” in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Full details below.
Introduction: “Going public: Mobilizing, materializing, and contesting social science history,” Alexandra Rutherford. No Abstract.
“Elements of a counter-exhibition: Excavating and countering a Canadian history and legacy of eugenics,” Evadne Kelly, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Seika Boye, Carla Rice, Dawn Owen, Sky Stonefish, and Mona Stonefish. Abstract:
Into the Light, a recently mounted collectively curated museum exhibition, exposed and countered histories and legacies of 20th?century “race betterment” pedagogies taught in Ontario’s postsecondary institutions that targeted some groups of people, including Anishinaabe, Black, and other racialized populations, and disabled and poor people, with dehumanizing ideas and practices. This article advances understandings of the transformative potential of centralizing marginalized stories in accessible and creative ways to disrupt, counter, and draw critical attention to the brutal impacts of oppressive knowledge. The “counter?exhibition” prioritized stories of groups unevenly targeted by such oppression to contest and defy singular narratives circulating in institutional knowledge systems of what it means to be human. The authors draw on feminist, decolonial and disability scholarship to analyze the exhibition’s curation for the ways it collectively and creatively: (1) brought the past to the present through materializing history and memory in ways that challenged archival silences; and (2) engaged community collaboration using accessible, multisensory, multimedia storytelling to “speak the hard truths of colonialism” (Lonetree) while constructing a new methodology for curating disability and access (Cachia). The authors show how the exhibition used several elements, including counter?stories, to end legacies of colonial eugenic violence and to proliferate accounts that build solidarity across differences implicated in and impacted by uneven power (Gaztambide?Fernández).
“Social protest photography and public history: “Whose streets? Our streets!”: New York City, 1980–2000,” Tamar W. Carroll. Abstract:
“Whose streets? Our streets!,” a traveling exhibition that debuted at the Bronx Documentary Center in January 2017, brings together the work of 37 independent photographers who covered protests in New York City between 1980 and 2000. Collectively, they chronicle social justice struggles related to race relations and police brutality; war and the environment; HIV/AIDS and queer activism; abortion rights, feminism, and the culture wars; and housing, education, and labor. The exhibition and companion multimedia website demonstrate the role that photographers, activists, and ordinary people play in enacting democratic social change. They also highlight social protest photography as an important source for doing public history.
“Guns, germs, and public history: A conversation with Jennifer Tucker,” David Serlin. Abstract:
In this wide?ranging conversation, historians David Serlin (UC San Diego) and Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University) discuss the role of material culture and visual media in shaping how museums communicate histories of science and technology. Tucker describes recent a public history project focused on 19th?century histories of firearms and gun regulation in light of contemporary debates about the Second Amendment “right to bear arms.” Serlin and Tucker conclude by speculating about possible curatorial directions for a future public history exhibit focused on the social and cultural impact of the COVID?19 pandemic during 2020.
“Doing history that matters: Going public and activating voices as a form of historical activism,” Erika Dyck. Abstract:
For many of us academics, doing community?engaged research means coming to terms with the significant gaps in experience, privilege, and power, and overall access to knowledge. We are trained to learn through texts, not through direct experience. In some ways, we are even conditioned to tune out experience, or anecdote, to dilute personal subjectivities in favor of a critical analysis informed by a combination of methods and sources, and a reliance on text?based forms of evidence. Whereas for most community members, evidence is experiential. This dynamic also underscores the tremendous power and responsibility we have as historians to shape identities and legacies through the stories we tell. In the end, I believe the risks are worth the rewards.