PublicHistoryMultiSession Politics of Memory: Making Slavery Visible in the Public Space, Part 8: Slavery in Museums and Memorials

AHA Session 295
Sunday, January 9, 2011: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Room 310 (Hynes Convention Center)
Ana Lucia Araujo, Howard University
Joshua M. Rosenthal, Western Connecticut State University

Session Abstract

This panel examines how slavery was incorporated in local and national museums and memorials, in the United States and France. The four papers deal with the political issues and the difficulties associated with the recovery of the slave past in official institutions. Hourcade's paper situates the context that allowed former French slave ports such as Bordeaux and Nantes to acknowledge their role during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. The paper examines the examples of Bordeaux's City Museum (Musée d'Aquitaine), Nantes' older exhibition rooms on the slave trade, the project of a slave trade memorial as well as the political issues involved in the official commemorations of slavery and the slave trade in both French cities. Kathleen Hulser examines how New York City has been been incorporating its own slave past in the public space. She analyzes the example of the New-York Historical Society, which developed a series of exhibitions focusing on the city involvement in the slave trade:  Slavery in New York (2005-2006), New York Divided (2006), and "Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery (2007). Faden's paper deals with the challenges involved in developing the topic of slavery in museums, by especially focusing on the use of language related to race and laborer's status. Tate's paper discusses the construction of a slave memorial in a former rice plantation owned today occupied by a community of Cistercian monks in South Carolina. The paper discusses how the various monument proposals interpret this contested place of memory of slavery.