The Slavery and Global Public History: New Challenges conference took place December 1-3, 2016 at Brown University. You may find video recordings of the conversations at the conference Youtube channel here

Available recordings include:

Slavery and Institutional Politics of Public History

The recent public reckoning with slavery and its legacies has changed national narratives of belonging, community, and citizenship. New museums which grapple with the role of slavery, and race in their national histories have cropped up across the globe. National museums struggle to integrate these difficult stories of exploitation, violence, and exclusion into the nation.

Slavery and Public History around the World

Why have slavery and its abolition become, in the past 20 years, a major, world-wide, phenomenon of public historical debate and practice?  Why has the debate animated politics and new national narratives?  Why the explosive development of museums and historic sites?

Digital Humanities Projects

  • Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
  • William Rankin, Assistant Professor of the History of Science, Yale University
  • Joseph Yannielli, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Council of the Humanities and the Center for Digital Humanities, Princeton University
  • Moderator: Monica Muñoz MartinezStanley J. Bernstein '65 P'02 Assistant Professor of American Studies, Brown University

Between History and Memory

What role can and should the conventional historian play in informing and driving historical exhibitions and shaping public memory? Scholars and practitioners of slavery and its public presentation discuss edges and borders between public memory and the worlds of conventional historical scholarship.

Slavery in Performance and Popular Culture

The Coming, written by Daniel Black, provides a vivid chronicle of the Middle Passage endured by captured Africans on their tragic voyage to enslavement in the Americas. Dr. Black will discuss the complexities of theatrical and literary interpretations of slavery as a means of educating museum audiences with Rex M. Ellis, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Facing or Deflecting the Past in Exhibitions

Publics, as much as historians and large cultural institutions, define how difficult history is remembered or forgotten. Smaller and independent sites and communities increasingly tell local stories of slavery and history that reflect local public memory and desires to remember or disremember a specific past.

Case Studies in Public History

  • Sandra Arnold, Founder and Director, Periwinkle Initiative, and Graduate Fellow for the Study of the Public History of Slavery at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University
  • The Rev. Canon Linda L. Grenz, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and The Center for Reconciliation at the Cathedral of St. John
  • Emily M. N. Kugler, Assistant Professor of English, Howard University, and Member of the Board of Advisors, Middle Passage Ceremonies & Port Marker Project
  • Moderator: Susan SmulyanProfessor of American Studies, and Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Brown University

Building and Design in Slave Memorials and Museums

Design and interaction with the natural and built landscape are essential elements of memorialization. Architects and artists discuss slavery as inspiration for sculpture and building design, and the ways in which they consider the visual impact of the public experience of commemoration.

Concluding Roundtable

  • David W. Blight, Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and Class of 1954 Professor of American History, Yale University
  • Anthony Bogues, Director, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory, Brown University
  • Marcia Chatelain, Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University
  • Martin Hall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Emeritus, University of Cape Town 
  • Richard Rabinowitz, President, American History Workshop
  • Moderator: Roquinaldo Ferreira, Associate Director, Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, and Vasco da Gama Associate Professor of Early Modern Portuguese History, Brown University