Public Humanities Blog

An Assyriologist in the Public Humanities

August 19, 2019

Being an Assyriologist also studying the public humanities feels a little like tipping after a meal at a restaurant. Folks are consistently patting me on the back for doing so, but shouldn’t we all be doing it anyway? 

A Lesson in Philanthropy or The Problem with “Giving it Away!”

August 1, 2019

Like most fundraisers I know, I’ve often thought wistfully of how wonderful it must be to be on the “other side” – to be a grant maker instead of a grant seeker. “It must be so great”, my colleagues and I might fantasize, “to give it away instead of always asking”.

“The Possibilities of the Negro”

July 12, 2019

The Library of Congress’ online collection contains a group of enchanting photographs, meticulously posed and arranged: snapshots of women in extraordinary feather hats, men in suits and ties, and studious pupils pretending to measure liquids in laboratories. They are part of the African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition.

In the Unabridged Dictionary of Lies, Entry under “Chernobyl”

June 4, 2019

The American entertainment industry has no shortage of horror and post-apocalyptic fantasies. Zombies, aliens, plagues, serial killers, and imaginary monsters take over our imagination on the screen and the page. We suspend our disbelief for a few hours, entranced by blood, gore, and suspense, then return to the safety of our living rooms, free of monsters and zombies. Unlike the traditional horror stories, there is nothing imaginary about Chernobyl. For those who lived through it, the adversaries - the atom and the State - are real, invisible, ever-present and seemingly invincible.

How Public Humanities Expanded My Ethnographic Practice (and Helped Me Get a Job)

May 7, 2019

I’ve always been deeply curious about human thoughts and behavior, how we translate and communicate our interior lives to others, but it wasn’t until college that I realized anthropology and museum studies could be a way to pursue this curiosity. I learned that museums are not neutral spaces that present straightforward facts, but are political institutions that actively work to shape public perceptions of science, history, culture, and art.