Public Humanities Blog

Statues and Statutes: Public Humanities Meets Public Policy

April 1, 2020

In this time of confinement at home for many, as others provide invaluable services and crucial care in the coronavirus pandemic, we will continue to post the blog entries scheduled for this spring. We hope that they will remind and inspire you about the kinds of work – acknowledging there is now much we have yet to know - that we can do in worlds local to transnational. – Ed.

“Exhibitions for Social Justice:” An Appreciation from Chicago to Providence

March 17, 2020

The discussion of the wallpaper at the JNBC, the subject of a recent post in this blog by Susan Smulyan, is a perfect example of the thoughtful type of work that goes into using exhibitions to advocate for social justice: the equitable distribution of risks and rewards in society.

On the Land: Heritage-promoting Stewardship in Britain and Beyond

February 24, 2020

This past summer I had the opportunity to go to the Midlands section of England to give my first solo talk at a conference, held at the University of Derby. Led by photographer and faculty member Mark Hall, “Landscapes and Legacy: Critical Partnerships between Arts, Culture, and Heritage” fit well with the work I initiated and guided for ten years in Providence through UPP Arts.

Les Vues d’Amérique du Nord

February 3, 2020

In May 2019, students in the Master’s Program in Public Humanities wrote a letter asking for the removal of nineteenth century wallpaper in the central hallway of the Nightingale-Brown House (where the Public Humanities program is housed) “because of its racist depictions of Black and Indigenous peoples.” As Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, I have spent the months since learning more about the wallpaper and its historical context, considering other examples of now-controversial public art, discussing the issue with University officials,

The Peripatetic Malasada

January 8, 2020

Growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, I enjoyed a fried and sugarcoated pastry creation called a “malasada,” especially popular at the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the largest Portuguese cultural festival in the world, held in the heavily working class North End of New Bedford. While away at college, I missed malasadas and bragged about them incessantly. I was a malasada booster, a malasada chauvinist, but I lacked sharable proof. Malasadas don’t travel well. They are best eaten warm out of a paper bag that absorbs the excess grease.