A historical exploration of the Bukhansanseong Fortress

Link: /drive.google.com/file/d/1S_efoUlOrl87OKWEU8rqondHuPCV4zsB/view?usp=sharing

How did you decide which stops and which path your listeners will take? Did you design this tour for a specific subset of listeners or demographic group?

 

The stops were decided based on the hot spots of the hike and the real historical information dissemination starts when the listener enters the fortress and experience the space as they learn about it. This tour is made for the crazy number of tourists who come to hike Bukhansan, but only for the purposes of seeing nature. This is an alternative to the nature hike, a historical hike!

 

What difficulties (e.g., technical limitations, ethical concerns) did you face in storyboarding your tour? How did you decide what historical argument would frame your narrative? If you had unlimited resources and time, what would you change about your tour?

 

There were technical limitations with Detour not working at the mountain and having to do a short podcast and upload it to Google Drive instead, but I ended up producing something. The narrative of this tour is around the change in the perception of the locality as people settled in, especially regarding the legend of Muhakdaesa. If I had unlimited resources and time, I would make it so that there are more voice clips people saying certain phrases in Korean and then translate them.

 

How do the constraints of guided, app-based tours impact your ability to engage with the creation of historical knowledge? What are the limitations and benefits to using these services for public history projects?

 

The problem with these app-based tours is that the technical limitations can really ruin the user experience and it might be too much of a hassle for the user to figure things out for a historical hike. However, when they do work, they are really great at creating an atmosphere where the user can concentrate on learning about the history of their surroundings. However, this brings up the question of bringing the past into the present and the possibility of an inaccurate narrative might misrepresent the history of a location.

 

In what ways did this experiment help you understand Trouillot’s concept of historicity? What impact did power structures (e.g., hidden and public transcripts) and contests between memory and identity have on the narrative you constructed?

 

This experiment was interesting in the way that it highlighted the fact that history is a socially constructed narrative that is changed by the society as time advances. The particular historical narrative in my tour talks about how the legend about a farmer Muhak turned into a legend about the divine monk Muhakdaesa as the perception of the society changed towards their surroundings. Moreover, the tour looked at the causes behind the construction of the fortress which is not mentioned on the historical site itself and really allows the listener to understand the significance of the fortress as they are transported in the past while the setting of the war is being created.

Editing the Wikipedia page of Nisargadatta Maharaj

For this assignment, I edited the Wikipedia page of Nisargadutta Maharaj, an Indian spiritual mystic residing the Mahrashtra state, to include a controversy that was ignited by another internationally well-known mystic of India, Osho also known as Rajneesh Bhagwan.

Username: Majesticeuphoria
Link to Entry Edit:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Nisargadatta_Maharaj#Osho_controversy

Screenshots:

Before:

After:

As you can see in the images above, I edited the Wikipedia page to include a new section called Controversies and added a section about the Osho controversy-see text below.

Edit text:

Controversy

Osho

Rajneesh, also known as Osho, commented on Nisargadutta Maharaj in his book, Om Mani Padme hum, where he claims that Nisargadatta was popularly known as “Beedie Baba” due to his addiction to smoking beedies, a thin cigarette filled with tobacco flake popular in the South Asian subcontinent. He also makes some unsupported derogatory claims about him in the same section.

“There was a man in Bombay, Nisargadatta Maharaj. Nobody knew this big name; he was known to the masses as ”Beedie Baba” because he was continuously smoking beedies. You can find in every village such kinds of beedie babas. I think India has seven hundred thousand villages and each village must have at least one; more is possible. And Amrito wrote a few days ago to me, because another young Dutchman became very much involved with Beedie Baba… The man seems to be very sincere, but the trouble is that the people who come from the West have a very childlike heart, very trusting, and they are unaware that in India spirituality is just a routine. Everybody talks about great things and their lives are as ugly as possible. When Beedie Baba said that he would speak only to this young Dutchman, naturally his ego must have felt tremendously vast. The crowd that surrounded Beedie Baba was also of the same quality… rickshaw wallahs waiting for their passengers, sitting by the side of Beedie Baba. And when he said he would not speak to anybody unless it was this Dutchman… So he spoke to the Dutchman, who has now compiled books on Beedie Baba. Now in India it is almost parrot-like, but to the Westerner it seems to be a tremendous revelation – when Beedie Baba said, ”Aham brahmasmi; I am God, I am that” the young Dutchman immediately wrote a book: I AM THAT! Because for the West, spirituality is a foreign affair, just as for the East, science is a foreign affair.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj’s response

In the book, Consciousness and the Absolute, Nisargadatta responds to a disciple of Rajneesh who comes to him for spiritual guidance by highlighting the importance of investigating the “I am “ instead of comparing teachings of different teachers.

“Rajneesh is not a small personality or small principal. He is tremendous – he is very big. He is a great sage. When you already have a guru [Rajneesh], why do you visit other sages? Since you already have a great sage as your guru, you should not sit here or come here. I do not like those shiftings from gurus to gurus. I do not like wanderers. What is the difference between Maharaj and Rajneesh? Once you remove the letters (that is, the names) what is the difference? You investigate that wanderer’s “I”, before you investigate others. What is the product after you remove its name. What are you without the name or the label? You investigate the investigator – investigate “I Am”. Before you take up the assignment of inquiring about others, inquire about yourself first and see if you are real or unreal.”

 

A user named Joshua Jonathan responded to my explanation of the edit on on the talk section of Wikipedia page as shown below.

(415) 493-3049

He referred to the synthesis rule and the undue weight rule of Wikipedia which were created to maintain a neutral view on content of its pages, but it brings up the question of historical power. Who decides the definition of neutrality and the boundaries of it, my edit of the Osho controversy related to Nisargadatta Maharaj included both of their perspectives and there are many other Wikipedia pages which include a controversy section for famous personalities, but a user on wikipedia has the power to revoke the addition of this section. [1. #historyandpower,#publichistory & #historicalmemory: I discuss how the power of a few editors can influence what is included and not in the public memory of famous personalities due to the fact that they are more active on Wikipedia than others.] This poses a question of how Wikipedia memorializes famous historical personalities in it’s own way where it doesn’t necessarily present their history holistically but just the more popular parts of their history. The sources of the comments from Osho and Maharaj were transcriptions of what they spoke which give high legitimacy and proves that it is worthwhile to discuss this matter, especially for someone looking to be a pseudo-disciple of Maharaj and wanting to find more information on him. Wikipedia’s synthesis rule actually requires the section to have high source quality according to the examples given on their websites and thus, Joshua’s reference to this rule is incorrect for removing my edit. [2. #historicalsources & #digitalhistory: I discuss how despite the comments were given directly from reliable sources- books produced from Osho and Maharaj, but were denied using the synthesis rule and itss implications for the digital memorialization of Nisargadatta Maharaj.]However, the reference to the Wikipedia’s rule for not giving undue weight to minor issues is valid, but it raises the question of whether this issue really is minor? The editors of Wikipedia decide what should be present and not to the public based on their own metrics and only one user has commented on my edit, without giving support why his opinions of Osho should be a reason for the removal of the Wikipedia edit.

References:

  1. Rajneesh(1989), Om-Mani-Padme-Hum: The Sound of Silence – The Diamond in the Lotus, pp. 41
  2. Nisargadatta (June 7, 1981), Consciousness and the Absolute, pp. 76

Advertising and Censorship in 1950s American Television

ArcGIS Page Here 

First, I’d like to address 2 things:

I. My citations in the post are what I like to think of as “hybrid.” That is, the bibliographic citations are in Chicago, while in-text it mostly made sense to use APA’s in-text citation format. There are a few cases where I felt more information in the in-text citation would be helpful for attributing ideas. Sorry if it does not conform to convention, but Chicago-Style Citation is a construct and I opted out for this one.

II. I’ve included my N-gram analysis below rather than in the exhibit itself because I didn’t feel confident in it enough to include it in the exhibit. I don’t think the conclusions are particularly strong and I didn’t want it to detract.

I chose these words because I was trying to understand if the concept of blackface…existed. That is, at what point were people even aware enough to understand that it’s worth talking about? The results are a bit hard to discern, but there are noticeable spikes around the time of civil rights pushes. If we look at the period I was examining, the 1950s, we see that there is a bump in the early years of the decade. This could be related to things like the announcement of Amos ‘N’ Andy moving to television…or it could not be. What’s important is that we see “blackface” correlated not just with “African American”, but also with “representation” and “diversity”, which means that conversations about blackface were not just happening at times of, say, cultural revival, but as part of a larger conversation about how we portray black people. This has been #ah162-digitalhistory with Zoey Haar. Tune in next time for…oh wait.

So the thing about pulling two all-nighters in a row is that you really start to understand that time is a construct, but you also start to feel like maybe constructs exist for a reason and it’s to save you from yourself. So, with that said, I’ll be answering these in-line.

  1. How did you decide which sources to display and in which order your site’s visitors will engage with them? Did you design this site for a specific subset of visitors or demographic group [1. ah162-historicalgenres As I consider narrative strategies, I realize that I could have made this much more interesting if I’d attached a story line to it. I think narrative in the “arts and lit” sense lends itself very well to exhibits where there is too much information to absorb, so following a storyline (as we decide) helps funnel that information. In the case of this small exhibit I don’t know that it would have enhanced the experience so much, but I think this is something I will try in the future.] Visitors to my exhibit would need some prior knowledge of U.S. American history and race relations, but I didn’t imagine any more specific audience. I don’t delve too much into context (which I probably should have done more), and instead, I spend much of my analysis investigating how this arbitrary relationship that arose out of business relations became a fundamental part of the black middle class reclaiming their identity and redefining the narratives about them. I wanted the viewer to move through feeling as though these thought movements were happening in-time with their journey through the “gallery”, so I start with blackface as a concept, then move to talking about Stockton Helffrich (this is his real name, I swear) and try to set the next few up to show how anger, footholds for empowerment, and subsequent action arose out of a consciousness of one’s identity and a national culture of confronting stereotypes.
  2. What difficulties (e.g., technical limitations, ethical concerns) did you face in designing your site and analyzing your sources? How did you decide what historical argument would frame your narrative? If you had unlimited resources and time, what would you change about your site? I think I failed to represent the voice of the actual subjects of the phenomenon I’m studying. Access to black-focused magazines like Ebony or Jet was harder to find, and what I did find was extraneous to my thesis. If I had to do it again, I think I would start by looking exclusively at those sources so they shape the narrative I’m telling, rather than my trying to fit them into an already white-dominate narrative.I think I learned a lot about preservation and hegemony over the course of this project. That is, hegemonic voices (New York Times, etc.) have greater resources to preserve their work and curate the story of their history (hell, NYT sells beautiful framed prints of any article they’ve ever printed for the low low price of 15 college meals), whereas the Ebony archives are broken on the site and require a workaround to find what little they do have preserved.[2. #ah162-historyandpower This assignment helped me understand who has the power, platform, and resources (let alone time) to create historical narratives, and having fallen prey to not fighting against the (hegemonic) powers that be enough, I understand better how hegemonies are self-fulfilling.] That said, the other weakness I see in my own work is the subtle victimization and infantilization of the African American community.[3. #ah162-historicalsources / #ah162-historicalframing my greatest fear with this project is that I did exactly what Trouillot warned against and buried historical silences in another layer of silencing. Understanding how I may have failed to use a variety of sources has helped me see the benefit of different kinds of sources for different voices or alternative perspectives. That said, and I mention this in a later footnote, I am proud of how I let the sources lead the thesis.] I speak in fairly abstract terms of becoming aware of a shared identity, which I really mean in terms of sociological thought, but retrospectively I think transfers to it seeming like now that white people are putting ads on TV and want to sell to black people, suddenly the black middle class is booming and has “found itself.” With unlimited resources and time I would invest in further, more hands-on research (getting access to things that only exist physically or have high paywalls that I didn’t have time to work around). I’m sure there’s plenty I could do with the site itself, but I think I still would like to spend more time investigating what the formation of a shared “black middle class” identity looks like.
  3. What constraints impacted your ability to engage with the creation of historical knowledge? What are the limitations and benefits to using these digital methods for public history projects?Physical location and not having a school library that I could order print-only books to would have been an issue if I were the kind of person who started this assignment enough time in advance that I could conceivably order something. Point being, I was surprised by how much literature on television is not digitized. In particular, I really would have liked access to more “inside” documents such as the NBC archives or I would like to learn how to find letters between people without knowing exactly what I’m looking for. I think it would be really interesting to look at correspondences between people in changing demographics and how they relate to the demographic and each other. I think N-Gram is really cool, and if I’d had more time I would have liked to do a spatial analysis of viewership on a physical map, but alas. My visions for a map-ier project aside, I am always wary of technology for the sake of technology and think that in the particular case of my own exhibit, technology would have been a neat addition, but might not have added that much to findings as much as to explaining already refined thoughts.[4. #ah162-digitalhistory / #ah162-historyviz BUT. But, but but…I do think that if I were to expand the scope of this project or dive deeper — if it were a dissertation, for example — I would hit a point at which a textual and spatial analysis of prevailing thoughts and opinions would be very helpful. I don’t think they could have helped me shape an argument for this, but they may be able to support or expand a more in-depth analysis.]
  4. In what ways did this experiment help you understand Trouillot’s concept of historicity? What impact did power structures (e.g., hidden and public transcripts) and contests between memory and identity have on the narrative you constructed? I thought a lot about the idea of what is said to have happened when I started to realize how much active dissent there was against television broadcasters who aired racist information. As many accounts told it, the change was broadcaster-lead and we retrospectively see the trend people tell us to. But looking deeper, I saw that what happened was a lot of dissent.[5. #ah162-historicalarguments — I’ll readily concede that this is not best-developed historical argument I’ve ever made, but it is, I think, the most original. This was the first time that I really felt that I was reading multiple sources and bringing their conclusions together to provide a new interpretation of the narrative. I let my sources lead the thesis, not the other way around, and while I wish I’d used more diverse sources, I still see that as an accomplishment.] No one was leading the charge of change; it was a push and pull. But when you look at CART reports, which were written from one man’s office, it’s easy to think that a single cog made the whole machine whir.[6. #ah162-historyandmemory This is an example of a time in which one voice has a disproportionate say in remembering What Happened.] I wish the documents were more accessible, but in my experience, any historical information about broadcasters is very difficult to find, especially from the broadcasters themselves. Broadcasters don’t take it upon themselves to create their histories, they let other sources do it for them, and we have to trust those sources.[7. #ah162-historyandidentity Reclaiming identity was one of the main themes of my piece. It’s surprising to me to see that corporations don’t want to associate themeslves with their history so that they can adapt their identity to popular opinion. I also see how much work it is to own one’s own identity when hegemonic powers (or Amos ‘N’ Andy, as the case may be) have taken it from you.] From a business perspective, I understand how a company wouldn’t want to be tied to ideas (because they do truly air them all), but on the other, I wonder how much we could learn if the documents about the inception of modern media became more accessible to the public than they are now (they’re technically open but the barrier is so high that I think it’s safe to say they’re private history.)[8. #ah162-publichistory This is one of the few cases when I think I feel that an entity is obligated to the public to keep track of its history and make it readily available. The history of mass media is the history of the way you and I think — the immense influence it’s had over thought processes beyond our control means, I think, that it has an obligation to citizens to provide them with archives, records, and public access to understanding how society came to be the way it is.] I’m not thrilled to have taken anyone’s word for it, and as I mentioned above, if I were to do it over I would start by making sure I’m not painting on yet another layer of silences, as I fear I have (Trouillot, forgive me).

 

(515) 957-4427

My interest in the topic started with a question I asked last semester: why does everyone in Buenos Aires know about Sigmund Freud? In this project, I got to explore the omnipresence of psychoanalysis both in private and public sphere. Moreover, the exhibition of the diffusion and development of psychoanalysis in Argentina provides historical reasoning why psychoanalysis has become popular, and its influence on the psychological, cultural and political life of the Argentines. [1.#historicalgenres  Overall, the exhibition has a good mix of relatable everyday storytelling and scholarly work to balance the humour and authority. It starts on a light note of anecdotes of the popularity of Freud in Buenos Aires, to make the historical examination more relevant to everyday life. Later on, I analyzed the work of Benjamin and Lacan in the context to add the scholarly retelling tone. ]

The exhibition starts by presenting evidence of deep saturation of psychoanalysis. Like what historian Marion Ben Plotkin(1997) has portrayed in his book, Freud in the Pampas, the language and practice of psychoanalysis permeate in the public and public culture in Argentina. Psychoanalysis-based therapy, focusing on the subjective and unconscious mind, is not just accessible to the middle-upper class families but is accepted as an everyday practice of almost all social classes.[2. #historyviz  I used Google N-gram to visualize the frequencies of keywords related to psychoanalysis between 1880s to 1980s in English and Spanish corpus. I have found the trend of the keyword psychoanalysis collide with the history to Argentina. See more detailed analysis in the exhibition. Another experiment I was trying but did not complete was to map out the nationalities of the authors who published in major journals on psychoanalysis, like the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Mind. I intended to do multiple maps based on the time frame so to provide insight on the spread of psychoanalysis in academia. ]

When digging deeper, I realize psychoanalysis has its unique contribution to helping the Argentines construct their subjective conceptualization of their identities and form their shared experiences. Psychoanalysis experience is quite personal so I think an immigrant’s or an analyst’s journal would help understand the experience and relive the context. In a postcolonial society, people need a type of psychology with enough subtlety to look at individual’s’ private events. Psychoanalysis allows for subjectivity to interpret historical meaning, which serves as an outlet to help people to process the complex makeup of their identities, including the diasporic history, the ruptured pride from legacy and the turmoil within the Argentinian context of a dictatorship, economic downturns and wars. [3. #historicalmemory /#publichistory  The exhibition did a detailed explanation of how psychoanalysis and some symbolic rituals have provided an outlet for las Madres, los Hijos  and los dispaderos to process the memory the dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. On the other hand, these rituals and psychoanalysis sessions have helped the people who suffered from the trauma to assemble courage to pursue truer memories that they were afraid of, form their own memories, that may be contrary to the public history. Moreover, protests and public exhibitions have been leveraged to rewrite the public silence and to demand factual and legal recognition of the murders. ] [4. #historyandidentity  The psychoanalytic approach allows people to reach to the unconscious about their memories of the historical events, which are not fully describable via language. The personal history shape individuals’ identities. Moreover, the personal circumstances are used to reflect upon historical meaning, so to highlight the shared identity, for instance, the rootlessness is an intersubjective experience of the immigrants in Argentina. ]  Moreover, the delicacy of individuals’ affective and fantasmatic life shed lights to understand what the greater social and historical context has acted upon the humans. Just like Benjamin(1940) argued in his essay, Concept of History, that psychoanalysis has changed our way of remembrance: our relations with the past has changed from the external happenings to the internal events. This is especially true for people with difficult history, for instance, diaspora, trauma and deprivation.

On the other hand, probing the historical forces that promoted psychoanalysis reveals that psychoanalytic thoughts are an essentially social product. In Psychoanalysis, Colonialism, Racism, Frosh presents the three stages where Psychoanalysis, as a form of alternative science, established itself as a distinct field. The adoption of the science was in service of social needs and was subjugated to political discourse. Starting the end of 19th century, the influx of European immigrants brought the intellectual fashion to Argentina. As in the 1920s and 1930s, the internal force – “civil discourse”- opened up an opportunity to leverage alternative science theories to deal with the formation of human identities as social subjects. Growing acceptance of psychoanalysis amounted to the formal establishment of the psychoanalytic institution in 1942.[5. #globalscienceandtech The exhibition has shown the production of the psychoanalytic knowledge in Argentina is largely conditioned by the social needs. In the exhibition, I also analyzed how the psychoanalysts and scientists, Gorritti and Garmer, are under the influence of social and personal factors when they created and communicated the knowledge, for instance, Gorritti’s anti-positivism in 1920s.] However, Lancanism was recognized as “Real Psychoanalysis” by the leftists, who established the Escuela de Lacan in 1972. (Mitchell,2016) Although expelled from the International Psychoanalytic Association,  Lacan’s insistence on using short sessions has benefited many more Argentines.

 

Trouillot argues that the dominant forces refract everything that makes it into history at play in society at the time of the present. The historicity of that fact lies in the eye of the beholder. A modernist conception might paint the prevalence of psychoanalysis in Argentina during its decline in the 20th century as a reaction to modernity and a turning away of a once great country from the modern world. [6. #historyandpower  There are many examples in the exhibition to show the powerful get to decide what to keep in the historical documentation and builds the narrative for themselves and other parties, in service of their benefits. For example, only the formal institutionalization of psychoanalysis is considered real psychoanalysis. The pre-institutionalization time was not recognized in the official history of psychoanalysis academia. Thus, Argentina Psychoanalysis Association has dominated the scholarly attitude until more historical studies have told stories of the other side in the past 30 years.]  Although the president of the Argentina Psychoanalysis Association paints the bright picture that psychotherapy is a norm that people do to improve health, rather than fixing problems, the need from the old immigrants to Argentina still stand real. However, the interplay of subjectivity and external socio-historical context creates a unique space for people to remember the past, to counter the pursuit of a single form of historical meaning.[7.#historicalframing Historians’ responsibilities are to reveal historical truths, something that actually happened. Psychoanalysts are talented to dig our deep narrative truths, yet there are no established methods to verify the authenticity of subjective events experienced to be ‘true’. Psychosis narratives can be very powerful and compelling, which also contributes to the understanding of the past. However, historians need to be aware of the difference between narrative and historic truths. ]

I have made couple pivots during this assignment. The major difficulty that I encountered was to limit the scope. I am glad that I took this opportunity to read a good portion of a few great books, including Catastrophe and Survival: Walter Benjamin and Psychoanalysis. Due to the scope of the project, I am not able to engage more examples from other immigrant-based countries. However, reevaluating individual and collective historical experiences of the Argentines with the psychoanalytical approach will shed light on other countries with a big immigrant population. Learning from the private and subjective histories enriches the collective memories. [8. #digitalhistory I primarily used pictures and text as my medium of the exhibition. Psychoanalysis pays particular attention to the word choice, thus words is a good form to probe. However, I wish I can collect some audio or video materials to create a more engaging experience. However, I believe VR has a great potential to facilitate and present and reenact history of psychoanalysis by showing the decor of the room, seeing the interaction between the patients and the psychoanalyst, etc. ][9. #historicalarguments  #historicalsources I have used 4 primary resources and primarily consulted 5 pieces of scholarly work to generate my historical arguments. There was plenty to read about  ]

 

Link to the digital exhibition

/spark.adobe.com/page/o0DFsWlVW3jfF/

Bibliography 

Ben Plotkin, Mariano. “Freud, politics, and the porteños: the reception of psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires, 1910-1943.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 77, no. 1 (1997): 45-74.

CNN, Elizabeth Landau. “In Therapy? In Argentina, It’s the Norm.” Accessed December 18, 2017. /www.cnn.com/2013/04/28/health/argentina-psychology-therapists/index.html

Frosh, Stephen. “Psychoanalysis, colonialism, racism.” Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 33, no. 3 (2013): 141.

Jorge Balán, Cuéntame tu vida: una biografía colectiva del psicoanálisis argentino (Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1991).

Krauss, Clifford. “Buenos Aires Journal; Doctor, Why Do I Keep Dreaming of Argentina?” The New York Times, May 29, 1998, sec. World. /www.nytimes.com/1998/05/29/world/buenos-aires-journal-doctor-why-do-i-keep-dreaming-of-argentina.html.

“In Treatment – Tablet Magazine – Jewish News and Politics, Jewish Arts and Culture, Jewish Life and Religion.” Accessed December 18, 2017. /www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/50078/in-treatment.

Mander, Benedict. “Macri Wants Therapy-Obsessed Argentina to Pull Itself Together.” Financial Times, September 29, 2017. /www.ft.com/content/0a10803c-997e-11e7-a652-cde3f882dd7b.

Moffett, Matt. “Its GDP Is Depressed, but Argentina Leads World in Shrinks Per Capita.” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2009, sec. World News. /www.wsj.com/articles/SB125563769653488249.

Mitchell, Stephen A., and Margaret Black. Freud and beyond: A history of modern psychoanalytic thought. Basic Books, 2016.

Stein-Sparvieri, Elena, David Maldavsky, and Guillermo Ferrari Hardoy. “The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Argentina.” Instituto de Altos Estudios en Psicología y Ciencias Sociales (IAEPCIS) y la Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Sociales (UCES).

Stewart, Elizabeth. Catastrophe and Survival: Walter Benjamin and Psychoanalysis. A&C Black, 2012.

Schwartz, Vanessa R. “Walter Benjamin for historians.” The American Historical Review 106, no. 5 (2001): 1721-1743.

Plotkin, Mariano. “The Diffusion of Psychoanalysis in Argentina.” Edited by German Leopoldo Garcia, Hugo Vezzetti, and Jorge Balan. Latin American Research Review 33, no. 2 (1998): 271–77.

“Psychoanalysis in Argentina, the Country of the Couch,” July 12, 2014. (917) 894-4205.

“Sci-Hub: Removing Barriers in the Way of Science.” Accessed December 10, 2017. /scihub22266oqcxt.onion.link/.

vaughanbell, Author. “The Argentinian Love Affair with Psychoanalysis.” Mind Hacks (blog), November 17, 2009. 918-863-2038.

The Standardization of Passports: Individual Write-Up

View the exhibit here
Museum Admission: $0 for green and black passport holders, $1 for red passport holders, $2 for blue passport holders,  $3 for all other passport holders
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless we fall out of favor with the Internet Gods


My esteemed college Lishu Gang and I were both quite interested in the origins and history of borders, passports, visas, and travel restrictions, so we decided to work together on this project. Particularly within Minerva’s current unique predicament of having to deal with the obstacles of travel restrictions on an un-ending basis, this topic is certainly one which is relevant to Minerva students but also more generally seems to be one that won’t be going away anytime soon, despite optimistic assessment on the future of travel restrictions.9044480863

We realized that we had to become a lot more specific in our project, because the topics mentioned above span a wide range of directions. So we decided to focus specifically on the passport, and how it truly only emerged in its current incarnation in the last hundred years.

We initially struggled with distinguishing historical from historiographical arguments, as much of the research, scholarship, and other existing secondary sources, and most primary sources, tend to focus mainly on historical facts. This is unsurprising, because the nature of historiography is that it forces the researcher to consider historical phenomena on a meta-level, looking at how the recounting of that history is developed. Though easy to understand on the surface, it is much more difficult to implement that approach when going through documents, and so we had to keep reminding ourselves to remain meta in our analysis of the texts we were reading and to avoid getting too bogged down. Particularly since our initial interest in the topic focuses directly on the historical, not historiographical arguments, this was more challenging than expected.

As we gathered primary sources, and continued to go through these meta-checks, our argument evolved for the better. At first, it was barely even historical, more about the modern reality of passports than anything else. We then went more in the direction of historical analysis, seeking to further an argument along the lines of: passports were created in the past decades when air travel became affordable and more people could travel, but also were manifestations of neo-colonial discrimination and post-colonial expression of grievances against oppressor nations. However, when zooming further in on the actual language used by those who initiated the modern passport at the League of Nations, we realized that this argument was false and unsubstantiated directly. So we ended up settling on the argument of how stories of the past were used to justify passports, looking at the recounting of the pre-passport era. Once we really got into the details of the primary sources, we found that the juiciest and most helpful insights which pushed us from historical to historiographical arguments came from looking at the justification that actors use for their actions and decisions. As justifications naturally cite history, they are a good way to approach the analysis of historical representations.3237831509

Our thesis thus ultimately became: The modern passport was never intended to be permanent, created by the League of Nations to try to standardize the many administrative hurdles of travel with the hopes of ultimately reverting to an imagined past of barrier-free travel. Yet the very nature of a passport as an official, homogenizing instrument which not only regulates travel but also defines the identity of its holder has ended up distorting and shifting public history to be more in line with the narratives of sovereign nation-states, making it harder and harder to ever achieve the League’s ideal of a borderless world.6502768015 [4] [5]

We considered Trouillot’s concept of historicity particularly when looking at how comprised the League of Nations committee that determined the structure of the passport regime and who criticized passports, such as Stefan Zweig. We asked ourselves, who’s in charge of determining passports? Who determines the stories that are used to justify passports? Lishu developed the prescient argument that the makeup of the League of Nations as large of victorious, wealthy, European countries most certainly influenced the passport regime, up until the present day, because of their perspectives. I then developed that argument further by pointing out how the various writers we mentioned who are critical of travel restrictions and which cite a pre-war “open” world were already the beneficiaries of European colonialism and were lucky enough to have the resources to travel, ignoring the reality that many people could not actually travel in practice, even though in theory they had every right to.(813) 550-2135

To briefly answer the other questions, we decided to present our primary sources in roughly chronological order, going from the pre-passport era, to the League of Nations conference, to the 1940s when the negative potential of passports became clearer. We focused mainly on textual documents, because we were trying to understand justifications, and that was most obviously available through textual analysis. Within that framework, however, we sought out sources not only from governmental institutions, but from the media and other sources of unofficial stories.  We also looked not only at official government publications, but at minutes of the meetings, thus granting us some look into a more behind-the-scenes action.(402) 695-7756 individually

Our audience, given the complex nature of our argument, was generally students, scholars, and people who have a deeper interest in passports. The ideas and language are digestible enough for anyone with an interest to understand, but we certainly were not aiming to convince the unsuspecting reader.

In terms of difficulties we faced, it is always tricky to know the extent of what the creators of a primary source actually think. Even though we did use meeting minutes, we have not easy way of ascertaining what committee members said off the record, let alone what they really thought.

Another difficulty was trying to use a digital historical method, which we ultimately did not do. Several factors contributed, from the mundane, such as simply not having enough time, to the fact that none of the tools were learned were seemed obviously useful for the specific nature of our exhibit. Lishu produced a Google Ngram graph with the word “passport” in multiple language, but that did not provide much help to further a deeper argument. As we’ve discussed in class, it is important to be cautious about these new tools and to not overestimate their use, or to apply them too quickly. Nevertheless, with more time and a much larger amount of resources, some methods may be helpful. Text mining might be a good way to track trends in scholarship on travel, and GIS mapping could possibly work by looking at which countries restrict people from which places both before passports and now.[9]

Lastly, with more time and resources, I would also take a deeper dive into UN, ICAO, and other agency records about the development of the modern passport, and I would look more into what the pre-World War I world actually looked like in terms of traveling, particularly for non-wealthy, non-European, non-US, or otherwise non-privileged person.

References

Brickman, L. & Gang, L (2017). The Standardization of Passports. Minerva Schools at KGI. Adobe Spark. Retrieved from reflex arc.

Chalk, B. (2014). Modernism and Mobility: The Passport and Cosmopolitan Experience. Berlin: Springer.

de Syon, G. (2005). J Stamp. In R. Levy, Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume 1 (p. 363). ABC Clio.

Jaffe, L. L. (1956). The Right to Travel: The Passport Problem. Foreign Affairs, 35(1): 17-28. Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from /www.jstor.org.ccl.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/20031202.pdf

James, E. L. (1921). France to propose passport abolition. The New York Times, Oct 16, 1921.

Keynes, J. M. (1919). Economic Consequences of the Peace, p6. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Howe.

League of Nations (1925). Resolution adopted by the Conference on Passports, Customs Formalities and Through Tickets in Paris on October 21st, 1920. League of Nations, Doc.C, 641. M. 230. 1925, VIII. Retrieved on December 16, 2017 from /biblio-archive.unog.ch/Dateien/CouncilMSD/C-641-M-230-1925-VIII_EN.pdf

Meyer, K. E. (2009). The Curious Life of the Lowly Passport. World Policy Journal, 26(1): 71-77. Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from Tripylarian

Misztal. (2003). Theories of Social Remembering, p. 113. New York: McGraw-Hill Education

Prochnik, G. (2017). When It’s Too Late to Stop Facism, According to Stefan Zweig. The New Yorker. February 6, 2017. Retrieved from 2267023293

Robertson, C. (2017). How the passport became an improbable symbol of American identity.

Smithsonian. Retrieved on December 16 2017 from 412-965-6611

505-886-4688

Salter, M. B. (2003). Rights of Passage: The Passport in International Relations. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers

Sub-Commitee on the Passport Regime, Advisory and Technical Committee for Communications and Transit. Minutes of the third session held in Paris from October 2nd to 5th, 1925. League of Nations, Doc C. 699. M. 252. 1925. V11.

Taylor, A. P. J. (2001). English History 1914 – 45. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Travel Control of Citizens and Aliens, 8 U.S.C. § 1185. Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from /www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title8/pdf/USCODE-2011-title8-chap12-subchapII-partII-sec1185.pdf

Turack, D. C. (1968). Freedom of movement and the international regime of passports.

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 6.2: 230-251. Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from /digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/ohlj/vol6/iss2/2

Zweig, S. (1942). The World of Yesterday, p308-309.

LO and HC Footnotes

podesta #historicalgenres: We approached this project from the perspective of the present, tracing back from there. This approach has its benefits in closely connecting the ideas to the present and making it possibly appealing to a large audience. At the same time, looking at issues which may at the surface seem to be long past, such as slavery, is an equally productive way of providing a narrative of past wrongdoing and how they connect to our current reality and serve as a deeper commentary on human nature.

[2] #historicalarguments: We kept this LO closely in mind throughout our process, because otherwise we would have been lost in the history, as mentioned. Zooming in on justifications that actors give for their historical decisions and actions is a useful way of assessing historiography.

[3] #thesis: Distilling down our thesis into concrete terms was a helpful way for me to go about this write-up and be clearer about what I wanted to say about our process.

843-710-9706 #historyandmemory #historyandidentity: Passports serve both to establish a person’s official identity as a citizen (or non-citizen or marginalized citizen) of a state and to document their official travel history, they actually serve as tools which construct and alter a person’s memory and identity. These two LOs are particularly intertwined in this topic because of the extent to which citizenship in today’s world can influence identity, memory, and perception of one’s past life and one’s family’s past life.

204-506-7462 #historicalframing: Framing the history of passports in this context is useful because it raises fundamental questions about why passports have persisted in their current form and if that is morally acceptable. Particularly when their continuation helps to reinforce identities and limit movement, it moral issues that arise from this analysis are crucial.

(307) 677-8368 #historyandpower: An explicit awareness of the League of Nations and other writers we looked at as being part of the most powerful groups in 20th century society, even if they were disadvantaged in some way (Zweig and anti-semitism) benefited our analysis by making it clearer that the stories they envision of a past border-free world may be limited in scope.

[7] #historicalsources: Recognizing the nature of argument reduced the pressure on us to find historical sources which would add source diversity but not actually necessarily add too much valuable information. We therefore looked many at textual sources, but nevertheless did not completely ignore other sources (the two travel documents), because they still allow for some useful analysis.

9376730672 #publichistory: Meeting minutes are an obvious public transcript, but as such they also come with their limitations. The minutes are already partially paraphrased, and so the transcriber naturally expressed discretion in what comments to include and not include, particularly points that might not seem directly relevant to the topic but could in hindsight prove to be insightful. Furthermore, as mentioned, taking public transcript only at the word might fail to take into account non-expressed thoughts and feelings.

[9] #digitalhistory #historyviz: It was useful to recognize that our lack of a productive use of digital historical tools stemmed not only from a lack of time but from the possible mismatch between those tools and the nature of our research. However, I recognize that it is important not to shut out these methods, as many insights can emerge from places we would not obviously expect. Separately, as the focus of our topic dates to the pre-digital age, none of our primary sources originated from digital media.

310-441-5791

My fellow historian Louis Brickman created a 214-956-5235 that inadvertently created the international regime of passports and shaped international travel thereafter. The exhibit is in English with sources in different languages, and it’s meant for people who understand English and want to learn more about the social and political order behind international travel. The language is quite formal and I’d prefer the visitors have some background knowledge in history, especially world history in the 19th and 20th century.

Our historical argument is that in 1920, the League of Nations standardized the passport in 1920 as an attempt to reestablish international order and intended to eventually abolish passports and visa. But in the post-WWI environment, nations became increasingly aware of the need to identify its citizens and foreigners so passports and visa became more regulated. So the present-day normalized perception of passports as necessary travel documents is, in fact, furthering our distance from a past that people once desired to return to.[1. #historicalarguments: making the argument on not only a historically significant event but also people and nations interactions with that event after analyzing the primary and secondary sources.] The research on primary sources was fruitful as in the history of passports and the fact it affected individuals’ lives, nations, and the international network means there are a variety of sources and each offer different values and points of discussions. I’d love it if people can see all the sources we found to have a holistic picture but as the curators, we had to select and highlight a few sources and synthesize them into a focused argument.

The source selection process posed some challenges because we did not want to only look at the change of passport from one place as it affected people’s lives in different ways and it was used in different ways. So we wanted to show sources that reflect changes or reactions on the levels of individuals, nations, and the international community and also highlight agency: what the role of a supranational political entity was, what the role of sovereign nations was, and the role of the people was. In the end, we selected some sources from different time periods that can fit into a narrative arc so that the visitors of this exhibit can see a coherent argument derived from the development of a coherent narrative. Moreover, the sources in the exhibit are in a variety of formats (photo, memoir, resolution documents, newspaper articles, etc.) so as to provide a multifaceted examination on the different ways people, nations, and the international community engaged with the same historical issues. [2. #historicalsources, #historyviz: the analyses of the primary sources in the exhibit can better reflect on the #historicalsources LO but together with #historyviz, we are using multimodal presentation (with visual and textual sources) to help visualize history or the historical argument. The NGram is also related but not explicitly about #historyviz.]

One technical difficulty is that we are limited in the way that we could incorporate digital humanities techniques such as social network analysis. The initial search on NGram (see screenshot below) gave inspirations for this project and we zoomed into one specific event (the standardization of passports in 1920), but Google NGram did the text mining with its own search algorithms. We also changed the broader topic for investigation from borders to travel restrictions and it’s harder to conceptualize how we could use spatial analysis by, for example, making a map.

However, I acknowledge that we had limited amount of time and capabilities. If we don’t have time constraints, I would love to dig into the cross-border travel records in Europe after the standardization of passports and focus specifically on the borders where people didn’t face resistance and those where people had significant difficulties travelling into (e.g. the French and the Swiss could still travel relatively easily, but what about the Hungarians?). Alternatively, I’d like to do a text mining on the frequency of words and phrases related to the abolition of passports and visas so that we can have evidence to show the wish to abolish the international regime of passports diminished overtime.

A technical limitation of using Adobe Spark page, similar to ESRI story maps. as the platform for this exhibit is that it’s not very interactive. Interaction design has the benefit of keeping the visitors more engage through motion and kinesthetic mechanisms that static page don’t have. But the static page allows us to have more curatorial control over the order of information presented and the organization of multimedia materials.

When it comes to analyzing the sources, I struggled between providing enough context for the sources and analyzing the information specifically relevant to the sources, and between emphasizing the arguments that can be made through the sources themselves and making the connection with the overarching historical argument. Another struggle was in terms of how and where I position myself to make the analyses and that position influences the framing of the historical argument. One difference between Louis’s and my approach to the analysis, which made us complement each other’s work well, is that I positioned myself in the 1920s, without the many benefits of hindsight, and looked back to what led to the standardization of passports, whereas he positioned at the present-day and looked back at the event. I enjoyed analyzing the sources by treating them as part of the “recent past” that is now so remote from me and I knew it would be difficult for me to engage with the effects of this event over the course of the 20th century because of all the other historical ruptures that people and nations in the 1920s could not foresee, such as World War II and the Cold War. And for me, the framing of our argument will lose focus if we get to how peoples and nations viewed and used the international regime of passports in the rest of the 20th century. [3. #historicalframing: describing the thoughts behind framing the argument in a way that has a particular “backward-looking” or “past-oriented” outlook with a general and broad implication on the current present (2017), mostly situating the perspective of “the present” in the argument to be their present and our past (1920s).]

A constraint I faced in producing historical knowledge is that besides framing my analysis in relation to our overarching argument, I also had to touch on the Learning Outcomes in this course. Some sources indeed make a good point about some Learning Outcomes but that’s not necessarily the point of the sources. So sometimes I found myself not completely free to construct narratives and arguments, having to weigh the importance of the sources and the analyses based on how relevant they were to the Learning Outcomes.

Apart from the framework of the course, another constraint is how the broader field of history engages with this topic: there’s a lack of engagement. This topic is more investigated in the legal framework of immigration or in the fields of international relations and tourism, so the first effect on our exhibit is that many of our secondary sources are not from historians. Secondly, it is a bit daunting for us to make a “novel” or “original” argument from the lens of historicity because it can either prove too superficial or too complex that our sources or analyses cannot sufficient support.

When it comes to making the project in the digital sphere, I’m limited by my role as a consumer of digital information. I’m not a translator of information from non-digital to digital sources or a producer of them, so I can only rely on what already exists in the digital form. [4. #historyandidentity: reflecting on the limitations of my identity in the production and consumption of information and pointing out the extent of my engagement with history. In the exhibit itself, we also engaged with this LO more extensively, commenting on the historical contingency of identities reflected as seen in passports.] All the sources we present in the exhibit have been digitized but I can see another topic of e-visa or e-passports (such as those issued by Estonia) may engage with sources that are born digital. Though the right to information may be another technical constraint because we are accessing private information of some of the deceased and we are extracting the sources that have already been made public through the consent and the curation of other museums’ digitalization and publications. But a possible technical difficulty with e-passports and e-visa may be more secured. By making this exhibit, we are not making more private historical sources public because we benefited from the sources that were already made to be public knowledge, but we contribute to making more historical knowledge public by publishing the exhibit on the Internet. [5. #digitalhistory, #publichistory: analyzing the relationship between digitalization and the process of making public history.]

Furthermore, I was reflecting on the topic of historicity as I was researching for, analyzing for, and producing the exhibit. The first level of historicity is how others engaged with history, which in this case means that we were looking at how the League of Nations, people, and nations reflected on and used their historical knowledge of the 19th century and WWI. On this level, what’s also worth pointing out is the difference between “the absence of evidence” and “the evidence of absence”. I had wanted to look for sources that show the attitudes people had towards the standardization of passports from other nations, but the research results were scarce. I reflected on it and realized that first of all, the League of Nations and the post-WWI peace conferences were dominated by the big powers, and they made the standardization to impose on the entire international community. Other countries’ attitudes were mostly silenced but the lack of their reactions does not imply that they didn’t have reactions. Just like the failure to find sources in other languages or from other countries may not mean there is none: maybe those countries didn’t even have a functioning press industry, maybe those sources were not well preserved or archived, or maybe they are not yet digitized. The current international regime can help us understand that other countries had to eventually adopt the decision made by the League of Nations but it is only sufficient to conclude the control of power, not the lack of resistance to such power. [6. #historyandpower: pointing out the power dynamics in both the adoption of the international passport regime (an argument of political realism where powerful countries make the rules and regulations in the international community) and the production and presentation of sources.]

The second level of historicity is our historical argument, which we had to keep reminding ourselves that the argument wasn’t an argument on history but an argument on historicity. So we had to be constantly “meta” and analyze and comment on the use of history. On this particular level, I realized the extent and the number of formats people engage with history and construct historical narratives, especially by selecting Stefan Zweig’s memoir. The memoir is a historical genre that allows the reader to engage with historicity on at least two levels: the author himself is reflecting on the past, especially the interactions between his personal history and the public or collective history which he lived in, and through the memoir, the readers are using the past as already narrated and perhaps altered by the author. Essentially, Zweig’s personal memories are highlighted to speak for a historical view that existed at the time. [7. #historyandmemory: this LO is more explicitly mentioned in the exhibit itself with the discussion of nostalgia and here it’s only loosely connected to how memoirs as one person’s memory now has a place in the current collective consciousness about a period of the past.] The newspaper is another example because it reported the present then (1921) but is now used as a historical source to look into how people engaged with history back then (1920s). [8. #historicalgenre: analyzing historical genres and their merits on offering different perspectives on historicity such as personal memories and the recent past.]

The third level, the highest level, is this reflection on how I engaged with history while making the exhibit. Writing this reflection makes me realize the control I had in selecting the sources, highlighting parts of the sources, directing people to analyze the sources in certain ways, and framing the historical argument. It makes me realize that history is an interactive process because even if I didn’t exist when the event took place, my learning of it and my historical argument about it will shape how it’s presented as a historical narrative.

Sources:

Brickman, L., & Gang, L. (2017). The standardization of passports: How nations broke away from a desired past they tried to reconnect with. Adobe Spark. Retrieved on December 16th 2017 from /spark.adobe.com/page/YZc2iYiDA4WlV/

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Exhibition URL:

Qiqi and I choose subways as the topic of our exhibition. From the beginning, it was clear to us that subways are for more than just a means of transportation. We wanted to show how one can approach a governmental institution and gain insight into its historical basis and impact on a place. The LO history and power is the LO which is relevant to all parts of our exhibit. We want to understand the forces that influence the construction of subways and again how the subways, once built, become embedded in the narratives of a city.

For our curatorial process, we first selected three cities which have varying histories relating to their subways. We choose New York which has one of the oldest subways in the world and a large corpus of academic research describing the many aspects of the system. We choose Mexico City which serves as an example of how states can seek to create systems which integrate and accommodate history as well as how the subway of a city can define the city as modern. Lastly, we choose Delhi which only got a subway very recently. Delhi is interesting as a city in which the metro project seems deeply grounded in high modernist ideals and ambition.

We decided to start our exhibition in New York, a city which has been at the forefront in defining metro systems as a part of the modern global city. Having decided on the cities to use for our case studies we tried to find sources which would compliment each other in showing the different historical forces shaping the development of subways. We decided to show the maps from the NYC subway map war of the seventies as the events depict the clash of different groups of designers who have different value and prioritisations of what matters in representing subway systems.

Subway maps, in general, are often distorted in ways that silence large populations. We decided to start with the maps because it is quite straightforward to see the bias in them. One can physically compare the area represented in a map to the actual area it takes up in the real world.

For New York, we also had access to data about the informal transportation systems of the city. Something that is quite unique to have for any city. For this reason, we decided to make an interactive spyglass map as out digital humanities resource. Though the story mapper tool hindered us in realising some of our ideas, the tools we gained access to for constructing interactive documents we key in us producing a high quality work. A tool like story mapper spyglass or image georeferencing enables us to understand the historical questions we are dealing with if implemented properly. I think it is easy to get stuck with the tools and forget the historical arguments which are supposed to drive the application of the tools. I think we ended up channelling a lot of time into creating a visually interesting and pleasant exhibition, luckily our effort paid off in us being able to craft a rich digital exhibition experience.

Our Mexico City case study has two kinds of sources. The first is the icon used in order to make the subway system legible to literate and illiterate populations alike. After discussing how historically the Mexican government has been trying to include certain groups, we feature two newspaper articles from the New York Times in the first years after the opening of the Mexico City metro. They shed light on a state which aims at becoming part of the narrative of the global city.

There are so many good examples of formal and informal transcripts in our exhibition. Every subway map is in itself a formal representation of a social reality. One of the aims of our exhibition is for people to realise that something as seemingly simple and material as a subway has deep historical roots and foundations. Engaging with Delhi, a city in which a local person’s experience of the city will often be in direct contrast to someone who only experiences the subway turned out to be a great example of how parallel narratives can developing alongside each other some environments.

mandil

ArcGIS Site here!!

Looking Back: A Reflection On My Process

Reflecting on my process, it is evident what an extended iterative process this experience of curating an exhibition has been! From quite early on in the process, I knew I was interested in exploring the idea of how power structures (eg. colonialism) impacts an artifact’s journey to end up in an exhibition/museum’s collection very far away from its origins. I also wondered about the tradeoff in the extent of an artifact’s educational impact when an artifact belongs to a collection of a renowned museum versus staying around its area of origin. In hindsight, my exhibition revolved around the very same ideas, with added nuance and support of primary and secondary sources.

Initially, I felt very constrained by the data visualisation I felt I had to do. I spent most of my research time earlier in the process trying to figure out how to craft a thesis that would be amenable to a digital historical method.

At some point, I decided to just research the topic with no expectations for what outcomes should look like and follow where my research guides me. I took note of what kept popping up, and what topics I found myself naturally drawn to. Although the digital historical method ended up taking significantly less space than what I had been planning for, I am much more inspired by the historical argument I arrived at, then I imagine I would have been if I shaped my historical argument in accordance with the digital historical analysis I would carry out.

The development of my historical argument for the exhibition spanned almost the entire research process. The initial iteration of my thesis was: “The restitution of artifacts around the world writes a story of the continued, complex contestation of power behind the development historical consciousness.” This thesis was more descriptive and vague. I was focused on the idea of “restitution”.  I wanted to acknowledge the universality of the issue while honing in on the complexity of each individual case. For example, the hypothetical return of the Ishtar Gate to Iraq was complex in that it raised the question: what responsibility do we have to an artifact in cases of restitution when the artifact will be in much worse conditions post-restitution. Who bears that responsibility? In terms of the Yale-Peru contestation over the Incan artifacts, the Yale-Peru case raised so many questions about ownership and right to possession. Is it ethical enough for Yale to simply return the artifacts to the Peruvian government, or should they artifacts be returned to the indigenous people of Inca ancestry.

Peripherally, I was aware that my deeper motive was that I wanted people to leave my exhibit questioning the idea of museums as they manifest today. [1. #digitalhistory – It is particularly salient that I critique the role of Universal Museums in their current form through an “exhibition” curated and presented on the ArcGIS platform. This allows me to deliver the subtle message that, as time unfolds, it is important to remember the new opportunities/potential innovative digital methods and virtual platforms hold in resolving some of the complex issues of restitution.] I wanted people to wonder what the real purpose of a museum should, whether museums are successful at fulfilling that purpose and whether or not they fulfill that purpose in an ethical manner.

As I conducted more research, the “universal museum” kept popping up. I seized this opportunity to explicitly connect my critique of museums by relying on the specific restitution cases as a lens through which to challenge the concept of Universal Museums. I placed the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums as my central primary source since it lies right at the juncture of the creation of a new identity for museums in light of the increasing threat of restitution. [2. #historicalsources – For this assignment (especially in light of my historical argument), I’ve decided to focus on the Declaration as my main primary source that fortified the identity of the “Universal Museum”. Through the exhibit, I use other primary and secondary sources to contextualise and  refute assertions the Declaration puts forward.] I arrived at this as my thesis: The restitution of artifacts around the world challenges museums’ performance as institutions of “universal” education to reveal their neocolonialist dispositions. [3. #historicalarguments – The first half of this write-up traces the process I undertook in coming to my historical argument for the exhibition. Although I had some sense of the issues I was curious about (ie. the purpose of museums), the formation of my historical argument was deeply guided by the information collected from my research on the topic. For my argument in this exhibition, I use individual restitution cases to breakdown the façade of Universal Museums as educational institutions and reveal its neocolonialist structure and processes.]

At last, I believed my thesis was suitably argumentative and of a decent scope, so I would be able to capitalise on breadth and depth to provide support to my argument. I aimed to convey the following two points:

  1. That the construction of the “Universal Museum” is just an effort to masque the neocolonial motivations and actions of the Museum. This “neocolonialist disposition” is fueled by ego and the unwillingness to acknowledge the ugly truth behind the museums’ collections.
  2. As such, the idea of the Universal Museum as a universal educator presents itself as the best justification for Universal Museums’ insistence on keeping the status quo (ie. not rocking the boat by giving into requests for restitution). With more nuanced considerations given to each case of restitution, we might reach different conclusions about how (in)effective(/universal) Universal Museums are as educational institutions.

 

Looking Forward: What Would I Do Differently?

  • Digital history tool [4. #historyviz – Although I didn’t end up applying any spatial mapping or social network analysis, I use this space to flesh out all the other alternative I had considered and the shortcomings of each method that led me to decide against them. This process made me more sensitive to the limitations of digital history visualisation. Arrival at a compelling visualisation that meaningfully deepens the argument is contingent upon having the right data, the right tools with sufficient features, an understanding of the tool and enough time to experiment.]: I would have tried to employ a digital history tool to reveal something deeper / novel about my thesis. Given the time constraints, I considered three options:
    • Exploring what else I could infer from Ngram. I ended up going with this and showing the gradual rise of “universal museum” from 2002 onwards. This demonstrates how the Declaration caused the rise of the concept, and how this concept was literally constructed in order to justify the museums’ neocolonial disposition. One limitation of this tool is that the timespan ends in 2008.
    • I also explored the idea of mapping out where colonisers, colonised countries and the locations of Universal Museums. This would demonstrate how the locations of Universal Museums would overlap significantly with those of colonisers. I decided against doing this as I didn’t believe the illustration would provide insight novel enough to be worth the effort of crafting the visualisation.
    • Finally, I tried using Google Trends to compare the trends of Universal Museums and Neocolonialism. Several limitations presented themselves with this tool:
      • The function only extends as far back as 2004.
      • There weren’t tools that would allow for sufficiently detailed filters such that I could easily differentiate signal from noise. For example, I couldn’t be sure the trend results were only accounting for Universal Museum in the same way I was defining Universal Museum and not “Museum of Universal Studios”.
  • Exhibition layout [5. #historicalgenres – In these final two list items, I call out some of the difficulties I faced adjusting to this unfamiliar genre. It’s a fine line between asserting confidence and taking advantage of the curatorial freedom to curate something that allows for a more personalised experience. I feel as if I didn’t quite optimise the potential for this virtual exhibition to be informational yet educational. I had focused a disproportionate amount of time on content. Perhaps with a little more time, I would have been able to be more conscious and thoughtful about style.]: I would explore different tools for different ways of laying the exhibition out. (eg. over a map with pins at different points of the map for different restitution cases). Currently, the “Cascade” layout allowed me to conveniently translate my essay-esque writing onto a more visually appealing platform. Pushing the layout further away from the essay style would have also forced me to adopt different authorial voices that would change the tone of the exhibit.
  • Refining my curatorial presence: As with the Detour assignment, it was difficult to strike a balance between directing the visitor’s experience and allowing them enough space to ask their own questions and come to their own conclusions. This is especially difficult to do when the medium is one-directional. With more time, I would have refined my text to curate more space for active participation on the part of the visitor. I would have also incorporated a wider variety of media (inc. voice recordings) to make exhibit less of an aesthetically pleasing essay and more of an immersive experience.

Other LO tags for the exhibit.[6. #publichistory – This entire exhibit is a meditation on museums as an avenue for public history. I challenge the Universal Museum as a glorified unproductive site for public history, but also comment on the potential ways in which museums could become more meaningful sites of public history.] [7. #historicalframing – In the sections on the Parthenon Marbles and the etched barks in my exhibition, I discuss MacGregor’s (neocolonial-leaning) and the Dja Dja Wurrung’s (postmodern-leaning) ways of framing how historical truth and consciousness is derived. On this note, I highlight the importance of revisiting and clarifying our understanding of the tradeoffs and net educational value an artifact can bring in each setting.] [8. #historyandpower – The restitution cases of the Parthenon Marbles and Yale-Peru highlight the role of power behind the neocolonialist structure and systems of Universal Museums.] [9. #historyandidentity – This LO is given special consideration in the Dja Dja Wurrung restitution case, in terms of how the restitution of the edged barks can impact the historical consciousness and collective identity of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, and that in turn affects how much teaching power the artifact is able to provide.] [10. #historicalmemory – In my analysis of the Parthenon Marbles restitution case, I highlight how both the British Museum and Greece were relying on anniversary rituals in 2003/4 to emphasise the importance and relevance of the Parthenon Marbles to the identity of the institutions they represent. Additionally, in my short discussion of ISIS in relation to the hypothetical return of the Ishtar gate, I highlight ISIS cognisance of the importance of physical structures as forms of memories (ie. Daesh trying to cut ties of people to their histories; a kind of cultural genocide) to a society.]

132,043 Unrecorded Deaths: The Khmer Rouge Genocide Beyond Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek

Link to Exhibit

With this virtual exhibit, I intend to make a historical argument about the reproduction of silences created during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Furthermore, I argued that these silences are based around sociopolitical factors extending beyond the Khmer Rouge and that the present-day silencing of this era is used to conceal the larger agenda of political rebranding. For brevity, I designed this exhibit with the assumption that the audience has basic knowledge of the Khmer Rouge genocide and the two public memorial sites: the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields in Choeung Ek. I allotted the introductory slide and the first two slides to briefly describe the relevance of these two sites to my argument, but my goal is to focus the audience on Khmer Rogue’s unfinished military project in Kampong Chnnang, which is arguably the “most grandiose construction project of the entire Pol Pot regime” (2). [1. Virgoe, Sally. “Airport’s only visitors the ghosts of the past.” The Phnom Penh Post, 12 January 1996.] In this reflection paper, I will explain why I think the public narrative involving the two memorial sites undermines several aspects of historical practice and how the exhibit I created on the Kampong Chnnang can address them.

Curation of Sources and Technical Limitations

Despite the multitude of personal testimonies of survivors and the “collective memory of those who continue to live and work in the region” (867) [2. Tyner, James A., Alvarez, Gabriela Brindis, and Colucci, Alex R. Memory and the everyday landscape of violence in post-genocide Cambodia. Social & Cultural Geography 13, no. 8 (2012).], the abandoned airfield in Kampong Chnnang was never publicly memorialised as a major site of violence. The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) estimated 132,043 deaths in this place due to severe conditions of forced labor, torture, and murder on grounds of being “enemies” of the Pol Pot regime.[3. Chy, T. Kampong Chnnang: A visit to the Khmer Rouge’s western zone. Documentation Center of Cambodia, July 20 – 26, 2009.] This unmarked space is a geographic manifestation of a second-hand abstraction of silences produced during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1978, as discussed in the next section.

I organized my primary sources such that evidence is presented with increasing human agency. I arranged the sources from the most impersonal to the most personal to demonstrate the different layers of information that support my argument. I decided to use StoryMap because I wanted to emphasize how the first two sites are situated in highly accessible urban areas in Phnom Penh whereas the abandoned airport, which resulted in 132,043 deaths, is situated in a remote area in the suburbs and is now a restricted military zone.[4. Virgoe.] I found the stark differences between the two memorials and the airfield symbolic of public and hidden transcripts, not only because of the urban and rural locations but also because of how power play frames them as “significant” and “insignificant” respectively. The fact that the Cambodian government has “refocused” (and exploited) attention on the 17,000 deaths at the Tuol Sleng (to be discussed in the next section) [5. Williams, Paul. “Witnessing genocide: Vigilance and remembrance at Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek”. Holocaust and Genocide Studies 18, no. 2 (2004): 240.] while “hiding away” the truth about 132,043 deaths, despite the multitude of witness accounts supporting it, embodies the key differences between public and hidden transcripts. [6. #publichistory & #historyandpower: Public transcripts are open interactions between those in power and their subordinates and are very unlikely to tell the whole story and the role of power and historical agency. Whereas, hidden transcripts are offstage discourses that can’t be observed or regulated by those in power. However, hidden transcripts remain “offstage” no matter the breadth of supporting evidence. Although institutionalization is not necessary for evidence to be “popular”, it’s difficult to take legal action for historical cases that remain hidden. I would argue that the Khmer Rouge genocide perfectly embodies this. As I will explain in the next section, obligation to the dead (the 132,043 victims of Kampong Chnnang) has not been met because it remains unacknowledged in public discourse.]

First, I used spatial analysis of a road map of Kampong Chnnang before the Khmer Rouge regime to illustrate that the land used to be on the pathway of a major national road before the airfield construction project was planned. A major limitation I encountered with StoryMap is the inability to upload more than one media source in a single entry. If possible, I would display the Kampong Chnnang road maps from before 1975 and after 1979 side by side and zoomed-in to the location of the abandoned airfield so the audience can see more clearly the “wiped out” segment of the road. Also, if I had access to the population census of Patlang Village, where the airfield is situated, I would conduct a spatial analysis of the relocation patterns of residents living along the area when the Khmer Rouge had to evacuate the area to carry out the construction. Ideally, I will animate the movement of those residents and the eventual construction of the airfield to visualize how the villagers interacted with the space when it changed drastically between 1975 and 1979.

Second, I connected Kampong Chnnang back to a more accessible locus of violence, the S-21 — the Tuol Sleng itself. This is my attempt to add a new dimension to the public historicity of Khmer Rouge genocide since the dominant narrative implies that only civilians were victimized. Several documents, such as the one I presented in the exhibit, are vaguely worded and so former Khmer Rouge leaders claim today that “purging” of soldiers only pertains to deployment of soldiers to Vietnam or Thailand. [7. Kijewski, Leonie. “Key Documents Hearings – Part 2”. Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, 3 September 2015.] However, when analysed within the context of “sudden disappearances” at the Kampong Chnnang, it can be inferred that low-ranking soldiers accused of being anti-regime were sent off to do “forced labor” which almost certainly resulted in death. If I had access to the origins of victim soldiers from bases other than S-21, I would have animated it to provide a spatial-temporal map of their relocation to Kampong Chnnang to add a layer of geographical information with soldiers as agents.

Third, I used testimonies from Patlang Village residents who claim to have witnessed the killings. Lastly, I used the testimony of Tan Than, an actual survivor of Kampong Chnnang.

Applying Historical Frameworks of Analysis [8. #publichistory: Throughout this section, I used this LO in identifying sociopolitical turning points, analysing curation of public histories, analysing memorialization of tangible spaces and institutionalization of selected information, the historical agents behind these analyses, and evaluating the intentionalities of these agents based on context using evidence-driven approaches. I used the historical concepts we discussed in class (Trouillot, De Baets, Wright) to frame my analysis.]

After conducting preliminary research on the strategies used by Cambodian leaders to create and reproduce silences, I found that the current spatial nexus of violence acknowledged by the present-day Cambodian government directly shapes the dominant public narrative on the Khmer Rouge. [9. Tyner et al.] Specifically, I speculate that the decision to institutionalize only a few geographical locations is a sociopolitical move largely because many Khmer Rouge leaders remained in power even after the regime fell. [10. Sion, Brigitte. “Conflicting Sites of Memory in Post-Genocide Cambodia”. Humanity 2, no. 1 (2011)] That includes the current prime minister, who has been in office since he earned the position in 1985. To make a nuanced, evidence-driven argument about the political intentionality behind this decision, I decided to uncover how the local government would benefit from selectively directing public attention to two particular loci of historical violence in Phnom Penh (Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek) when there are approximately 20,000 mass graves in total, as the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) discovered. [11. Williams.] I argue that the decision-making process of institutionalizing these two memorial sites undermines major aspects of historicity according to Trouillot as well as De Baets’ argument on ethical obligations to the dead. Moreover, I believe the present-day politicization of the Khmer Rouge genocide is a context where applying Wright’s “moral arts” framework may prove very effective. [12. #historicalarguments: Using the historical concepts we discussed in class, I crafted a historical argument out of the evidence presented by DC-Cam and the fact that there are only two officially recognized public memorials, as pointed out by Tyner et al.]

First, I argue that memorializing only these two sites of violence “makes some narratives possible and silences others” (25). [13. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past. Boston, 1966.] The fact that the histories of Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek are deeply connected informs us about the intentionality behind these official commemorations. As I discussed in the exhibit, forensic evidence from the early 1980s revealed that remains of Tuol Sleng victims were transported and buried at Choeung Ek. While these scientific findings contributed greatly to the historical scholarship of the Khmer Rogue genocide, keep in mind that these excavations were sanctioned by the Cambodian government at a highly politicized time. That is, when the Khmer Rouge fell in 1979, the communist People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) became the de facto government, albeit with heavy local and international criticisms because it retained several structural aspects of Pol Pot’s regime and, even worse, several political agents and leaders who played key roles during the genocide. Thus, one can argue that the connection discovered between the two sites was highly publicized locally and internationally not necessarily because it enhanced the historicity needed to give justice to the Tuol Sleng victims [14. Sion.], but because it distracted from the other undisclosed historicities that can otherwise jeopardize the PRK’s goals of political rebranding and reconciliation [15. #historicalarguments: I connected Sion’s analysis of the forensic and excavation projects as well as the political context (transition from KR to PRK) and DC-Cam’s findings to make this argument, framed by Trouillot’s multiple historicities concept.] By limiting the spatial nexus of Khmer Rouge violence to these two sites, I argue that the PRK diverted attention from their larger obligation of giving justice to the millions of genocide victims, in the same manner Trouillot criticized Haiti for the strategic refocusing of public attention on “small wars” to deflect their pursuit of “large wars”. [16. I think this analogous to Trouillot’s analysis of Haiti where political powers attempt to deviate attention from more relevant concerns (large wars) by dramatizing or hyping controversies (small wars) that are only the “tip of the iceberg”.]

Moreover, I argue that this violates the living’s responsibilities to the dead, as De Baets described. After the series of forensic discoveries on Tuol Sleng victims, there was a memorial boom to commemorate them in 1989. [17. Sion.] To symbolize the era, the government decided to erect glass stupas filled with skulls to demonstrate how many lives were taken in that area. Aside from the stupas, several torture instruments are also put on display inside the Tuol Sleng main building. Interestingly, there was little information on “how the Khmer Rouge came to power, what drove their ideology, how they implemented their genocidal policy, and how they were later defeated” (260) inside the Tuol Sleng despite the construction of these disturbing stupas and the grotesque display of the torture tools. [18. Tyner et al.] And while the stupa is a religious motif in Khmer, “it is wholly antithetical to Khmer religious practice”. [19. Ibid] Meanwhile, the Choeung Ek underwent several renovations for the convenience of foreign visitors of the genocide victims are located there. [20. Sion.] As Sion argues, a thorough evaluation of these details would reveal that the main purpose of these two memorials is not to commemorate the Tuol Sleng victims. Rather, they were meant to promote international tourism and to advance the political and economic interests of the PRK and the present-day government. [21. Ibid.] The lack of context provided inside the Tuol Sleng exhibit implies that its primary purpose is symbolic of an era of unspeakable horrors, effectively separating the crimes of the “past” from the “present” to the PRK’s benefit. [22. Ibid.]

Lastly, I believe this entire discussion exemplifies the need for “moral arts” to balance the need to uphold both the search for truth (historicity) and the commitment to fundamental human values (ethics) in historical practice. Based on these evaluations of the two memorial sites, I identified the need for an exhibit that would illuminate a lesser known but equally significant locus of the Khmer Rouge genocide. This would provide a more accessible platform for new lines of evidence to demonstrate the real breadth of the genocide activities. More importantly, it can open new lines of historicity to expose intentionality of the PRK and to counteract the historical narrative they’ve created. At the same time, this would provide a platform to bring the widely and deeply unethical practice of silencing the systematic killings of at least 132,043 genocide victims.

Works Cited

Chy, T. Kampong Chnnang: A visit to the Khmer Rouge’s western zone. Documentation Center of Cambodia, 20 – 26 July 2009. Accessed Dec. 18, 2017.

7328445161

Kijewski, Leonie. “Key Documents Hearings – Part 2”. Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, 3 September 2015.  Accessed Dec. 18, 2017.

/www.cambodiatribunal.org/2015/09/03/key-documents-hearings-part-2/

Sion, Brigitte. “Conflicting Sites of Memory in Post-Genocide Cambodia”. Humanity 2, no. 1 (2011): 1 – 21. Accessed Dec. 17, 2017.

/muse.jhu.edu/article/421340

Trouillot, M. Silencing the past: Power and the production of history (20th anniversary ed.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2015.

Tyner, James A., Alvarez, Gabriela Brindis, and Colucci, Alex R. “Memory and the everyday landscape of violence in post-genocide Cambodia”. Social & Cultural Geography 13, no. 8 (2012): 853-871. Accessed Dec. 18, 2017.

817-247-2364

Virgoe, Sally. “Airport’s only visitors the ghosts of the past.” The Phnom Penh Post, 12 January 1996. Accessed Dec. 17, 2017.

/www.phnompenhpost.com/national/airports-only-visitors-ghosts-past

Williams, Paul. “Witnessing genocide: Vigilance and remembrance at Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek”. Holocaust and Genocide Studies 18, no. 2 (2004): 234-254. Accessed Dec. 17, 2017./academic.oup.com/hgs/article-abstract/18/2/234/829238

How to (mis)represent the Anthropocene…something to reflect on

Tentative exhibit: (514) 752-9482

THE ARGUMENT

The historical argument that frames my narrative is so obvious to me, I can’t believe how often it is dismissed. I have been reading about the Anthropocene SO MUCH and this lack of acknowledging agency struck me. Of course the Anthropocene is a topic that can (and should) be discussed across a large range of disciplines and thus it is hard to give every part of it the credit it deserves in every discussion. However, the striking lack of discourse on hegemonic structures is not something that can be set-aside in any conversation regarding the Anthropocene.[1]

A problem I encountered with my argument is that it is too big…I remain shallow as I attempt to explain the simultaneous rise of colonialism and capitalism, and environmental policy as its tool in a few hundred words. However, having a broad topic did teach me something about power: I think I have never had this much agency in determining other people’s understanding and opinion on a topic, because my approach was so broad. This forced me to simplify a lot of knowledge, which is a form of knowledge control. [2]

THE VIZ

I had difficulty finding an apt method to create a historical visualization that would actually be meaningful. I used Ngram, and qGIS. I am not sure how useful my qGIS map is to strengthen my argument, but at least it allowed me to practice with qGIS, which is valuable in and of itself.

Wanting my audience to be aware is an issue I did not just encounter with my sources, but also with my tools. For example, when I use Google Ngram I want my audience to know about the limitations of this tool: this analysis only took into account books published in English, which are on Google Books. That’s a lot of books, but still only a selection. Furthermore, Ngram does not provide context. Who knows how the word “Anthropocene” is used? Maybe a lot of these texts are contesting the term, saying it should not be used. However, in this visualization it only shows up as used a lot. That lack of context is something to be aware of. But at the same time I don’t want to go into all of that because it is a diverging path from what the exhibit is about. [3]

THE DIGITAL HISTORIAN

I realized a few things about this exhibit being online: first of all, usually when someone visits a museum, other people surround them: a visitor might be there with a friend on a day out; overhear some information from a guided tour that’s passing by; notice how other people are interacting with the exhibit and so on. These interactions are important in shaping the ideas of the visitor. It gives them an insight into size and space, and having other people around is an important factor in shaping their ideas. Personally, I learn the most when I discuss with someone else. With regards to this online exhibit, I fear that the majority of the audience will visit the exhibit by themselves, which is a very different experience and thus asks for a different approach in how to interact: realizing that I am speaking to 1-person audiences made me change my tone. I directly address them, ask questions, probe them about what they might be wondering about right then, because there is no other external input to do so.(778) 891-1306 9202366261

Furthermore, I think that what I created is more of a tour than an exhibit. This is in part because of the format (arc GIS esra), which constrains the visitor to only allowing for one way to go through the exhibit. Of course the audience could click at the top of the screen to jump to a certain section, but still, I have full authority over the way that this section has been curated. There is only one order, whereas in a real life, physical exhibit the visitor can choose where to start, what to omit, in which order to look at the pieces in a room: all of this agency I have taken away. A format like the one of the online exhibit “Making the history of 1989: The fall of communism in Eastern Europe”, made with Omeka, gives the audience more agency but also they need to have more self-motivation to engage. The spatial aspect is missing: one cannot walk into a room and be drawn to something, because this is no room, only scrolling and clicking. [6]

THE SOURCES

In my exhibit, I struggled with the language that I should use: I don’t want to be to academic, but at the same time I don’t want to simplify the arguments to such a point that they become uncomplicated – because they aren’t – but that asks for a certain vocabulary. A basic example: can I use the word “stratigraphy”? Or does that count as jargon? Does “jargon” count as jargon?

What I found interesting about this project is that I am becoming a source, and a peculiar one: an online exhibit! If I want my exhibit as a source to be valuable of course I need to cite properly, but I found it difficult to decide how. I want my audience to be aware of the fact that I have curated this exhibition and the information in it is a collection of information from selected sources. This is only a subset of the knowledge on the topic out there, I am omitting things and I certainly did not come up with all of it by myself.[7]

THE AWARENESS OF MY AUDIENCE

I need my audience to know that nothing that I write is conclusive or an objective truth. There is always room for improvement, reinterpretation, further development of the argument…but I am afraid that my audience takes this exhibit as conclusive. The best way for me to let them know this is not the case is to say so in the conclusion: “This exhibit was an introduction to the environmental politics that have shaped the Anthropocene. As you will hear the word around you and learn more about the topic, reconsider the arguments that I presented you with. Do they hold?”.(917) 974-3875

Lastly, unlike the walking tour I did not start this exhibit of by introducing myself. I thought that would be inappropriate, as I am not the topic of this exhibitpathography. I did however but an “About”-section at the end so if the audience is interested they can know a little bit about who I am. Also, as I realized that this exhibit is more of a tour then I show I incorporated myself into the narrative by consistently using “I”. This should alert the audience to the fact that there was someone who wrote these words down, who decided on the order. I want to be transparent in the sense that this exhibit is not an inanimate object that has agency: I have the agency over it. [10]

(803) 928-9686 #historicalarguments: My argument is about agency in shaping the Anthropocene: the Anthropocene is marked by the (recent) dominant impact of humans in shaping the environment. However, a look at history and real numbers and statistics proves that it wasn’t all of humankind who made this happen, sadly many sources will make it seem so. Maybe this is because a future solution lies in collaboration of all these agents, but really if no account is given of the past, part of the present truth is neglected.

[2] #historyandpower: In this case I am the one in power who is endorsing a certain narrative. More than wanting to have this power, I kind of ended up wit hit by not being specific enough in my topic. I realize the power of generalizations is a strong one as it decomplicates arguments. I feel that this essay is a form of hidden transcript. Maybe I should create an additional section in the exhibit and add this, to create transparency about this power imbalance.

[3] #historyviz: I think that, when used correctly, these kinds of visualizations can be helpful in strengthening and clarifying arguments, and also to uncover new arguments that only really make sense when they are spatially mapped. However, we have discussed these tools in class and understand their benefits and limitations, but my audience doesn’t. That does not mean we shouldn’t use the tools, but – and this is a continuous struggle in these public history assignments we are doing – how can I make them aware of this without totally going off topic? I guess a footnote would help, but I think that the format of my exhibit doesn’t allow for that to be very helpful as they only show up all the way at the end of the exhibit and by then have been stripped of their context, their relevance diminished.

[4] #historyandmemory: One way that I think people create memories is by having an experience be unique, impactful. For a usual museum visit there are so many other things except for the exhibit that could make this memorable: the commute to the museum, the building itself, the other people they engage with…all of this “experience” is lost when all you need to do is surf to a website. Therefore the exhibit I think needs to work harder to impress a lasting impact on the memory of the audience.

[5] #historyandidentity: How my audience relates themselves to the exhibit has now become a rather solitary endeavour. In a way this is beneficial: one can engage as they like to, not having to keep up any social standards about how to act in a museum. What is lacking though is the collective engagement. I think that museums, especially about history, are a form of shaping collective narratives. National history is an incredible tool in building an overarching identity. If people engage with these narrative by themselves, their power of cohesion will weaken. Which really might not be that bad, I suppose it depends on the (hidden) motivation of the curator (or donor?).

[6] #digitalhistory and #historicalgenres (and maybe also #publichistory?): This kind of online exhibit lacks interaction and space. The visitor has very limited authority over the way that they can engage with the exhibit. At the same time, because the exhibit is online, it is important to provide the audience with that extreme kind of guidance: I think it would be hard for them to really stay engaged otherwise. It also makes me realize how hard it must be to design an exhibit in which the curator does NOT have agency about the route of the visitor to the same extent as I did. You already need to make choices about what to put in and what to omit, but then your audience can choose to omit parts as well, and when they omit one part, will they understand the rest? My exhibit is supposed to build up an argument with various parts to it in a specific order, but this kind of narrative building I think is uncommon in physical exhibits. I guess that is a benefit to the online exhibit, because it means that the physical exhibit either needs to keep repeating similar points to make sure everyone is on the same page even though they engaged with different sources/at varying depths, or it means they lose a lot of their audience.

2485848165 #historicalsources: Not only was it important for me to show to my audience where my ideas came from and that I had selected them and put them in a particular order, what I struggled with is that when I only have to write a paper that presents an argument it is easier to uncover a silence. Still not really easy of course, but for a museum exhibit, to engage people you need to show things: the primary sources. But what if a silence is such that there is no primary source to present? It is of more importance to focus on these narratives, but how can they be engaging to the audience and how can they be appropriate for an exhibit? Aiman suggested I just put up a blank page with an accompanying caption: ‘This is where there would have been an artefact of XYZ, if there were any left”. I think that approach works in a online exhibit like mine, because the gaze (“A-Z-E”) is directed by me, but not so well in a physical exhibition as empty spaces could easily be brushed over.

866-472-5034 #historicalframing: I want my audience to know that what I presented here is not objective truth; it is indeed one way that one truth can be given a voice. Asking a question at the end of the exhibit that hints at my expectation for the audience to stay engaged with the topic is an attempt at making them aware of my exhibit being only one way to argue and that I invite them to participate; to let them know that I do not have (or want) the final word.

[9] Although in Trouillot’s historicity B of course I am…I can be studied: how did I put this together? What was omitted?

[10] #publichistory: I found this difficult in my walking tour, and now again: how can I make my audience aware of the struggles I face, the doubts I have, the choices I make and the limitations of my methods? This is why it matters that I use “I” throughout and put a section about myself at the end: those are the ways in which I allow them to interact with my hidden transcript, which really I don’t want to be hidden, but is made so because at the same time it is tangential and not the point of the exhibit.

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