The Construction of Memory at Duke and in Durham: Using Memory Studies (2016-2017)
Most universities have yet to engage in a deep examination and public acknowledgement of their complex histories. Duke could be among the leaders in this area, fostering a deep and broad rethinking of the past and a positive plan for establishing a fuller physical and interpretive account of its history. What stories are missing from campus and should be told?
This Bass Connections project team examined the societal, cultural and neurological challenge of memory, social justice and memorialization at Duke. Team members mined memory studies to ask how, why and where people use the past for contemporary meaning and how lasting memories are created in the brain. Using the Duke campus and the city of Durham, the team investigated how we can incorporate difficult stories of slavery, segregation and inequality into new memory sites and interpretive plans.
Team members researched Duke and Durham history, mapped current history sites and collected untold stories. Using archives, students created a story bank of little known stories, including protests, notable alumni of color and LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. The team worked with a map maker to create a digital representation of existing sites of memory at Duke, including statues and portraits. Team members integrated the digital map and story bank into a draft proposal on how to expand and create new sites of memory at Duke as well as a draft interpretive plan for inclusion of untold stories into classes, campus tours and orientations.
The team also contributed to an interpretive plan for Pauli Murray’s childhood home in Durham’s West End and hosted the Dangerous Memories speaker series addressing the challenges of dealing with difficult or hidden histories on American university campuses.
Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
Monuments Should Reflect Duke’s Full, Complicated History (opinion piece by Helen Yu, Mary Aline Fertin and Christine Kinyua, Durham Herald-Sun, April 26, 2018)
Activating History for Justice at Duke (website)
Dangerous Memories: Conversations around the Past, Social Justice and Constructing University Memory:
- Brenda Allen, Begin with a Clock: How Brown University Addressed Its Connection to Slavery, February 7, 2017
- Tina Lu, Lessons from Yale: Writing New Histories onto a University Campus, February 23, 2017
- Jennifer Scott, Activating Marginalized Histories: Museums as Catalysts for Social Change, March 21, 2017
Human Rights Research Slam, March 29, 2017
Family-oriented activities at Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Discovery Day (April 9, 2017)
Mobile-phone based tour of virtual memorial sites for Duke’s untold stories and existing statues and plaques
This Team in the News
This project was selected by the Franklin Humanities Institute as a humanities-connected project.
- Robin Kirk, Arts & Sciences-Cultural Anthropology
/graduate Team Members
Matthew Sebastian, Cultural Anthropology-PHD
/undergraduate Team Members
Catherine Farmer, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
Mary Aline Fertin
Mumbi Kanyogo, Gender Sexuality & Fem St(AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
Christine Kinyua, Public Policy Studies (AB)
Elle Winfield, History (AB)
/yfaculty/staff Team Members
Alison Adcock, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Barbara Lau, Franklin Humanities Institute
Amy McDonald, Duke Libraries
Patrick Stawski, Duke Libraries
/zcommunity Team Members
Pauli Murray Center for Social Justice
Tim Stallmann, Counter Cartographies/SAVAS