Annual Meeting Roundup: “Forms of Recovery: A Roundtable on Historical Silences, Restoration, and Commemoration” Session Preview

This roundtable discussion takes place on Thursday, April 12 at 12:45 pm at the 2018 OAH Annual Meeting in Sacramento, and is endorsed by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS).

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Chair: Hilary Green, The University of Alabama
Commentator: Barbara A. Gannon, University of Central Florida

• Hilary Green, The University of Alabama
• Linda Garcia Merchant, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
• Citlali Sosa-Riddell, Pierce College

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The recent explosion of digital humanities projects, spatial analytical tools, and other interdisciplinary techniques had Christie Hyman (presenting on a different panel) and Hilary Green reflecting on Tara McPherson’s 2012 provocative question in her essay title for Debates in Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew Gold. This question was “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?” In thinking about the fields of digital humanities, traditional history, public history, and memory studies, this roundtable showcases innovative digital humanities projects, inter-disciplinary research, and other contemporary methodological tools that recover experiences silenced by traditional narratives of history, promote healing, and connect scholars with the public and descendant communities as a whole. Participants address McPherson’s provocation (directly and indirectly) in their respective work on sites of trauma within Californio storytelling, a Pennsylvanian mother’s post-Civil War struggle for reuniting with her children enslaved by Confederate soldiers, as well as situating Chicana/Latina influence within post–World War II social movements. Each roundtable participant eliminates existing silences by centering the experiences of marginalized communities in historical narratives, promote a new relationship between scholars and descendant communities, and encourages a new type of public engagement.

We hope that this conversation sparks practicable future directions in the various fields of history, public history, and memory studies, even if it is simply attempting to answer McPherson’s question. We would also hope to see the development of a research ethics that respects and embraces new innovative tools for the development of both traditional and non-traditional historical projects on marginalized communities. Also, the simultaneous development of traditional manuscript projects as well as more publicly accessible projects (DH, spatial analyzes, films, etc.) that allows descendant communities to learn, heal, and become better connected with scholars. Debates following Charleston and Charlottesville have revealed that scholars must reconsider our audience, public engagement, and relevancy of our scholarship in an increasing anti-intellectual present. Tara McPherson’s original question and the various disciplinary modifications should guide any future research enhanced by new methodological tools.

For those interested, we recommend Tara McPherson, “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?” or “Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

Eric A. Sheppard is president and founder of Diversity Restoration Solutions, Inc., a cultural diversity training empowerment firm located in Hampton Roads Virginia. Mr. Sheppard has been featured in many national and regional newspapers and on radio shows including The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Afro American (Baltimore, MD), The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA), The Herald Sun (Durham, NC), and The Journal (National Naval Medical Center), “Reynolds Rap” with Dr. Barbara Reynolds on XM Satellite Channel 169 and “The Morning Journey” with Sandi Mallory on WEAA 88.9 FM. He was appointed to serve on the Woodlawn Slave Quarters Preservation Task Force for the Columbia Association in Howard County Maryland and nominated to serve on the Maryland Slavery Commission.

Posted: March 13, 2018
Tagged: Conference, Previews, Digital Humanities