Remembrance of Things Cast: Monuments and Memorials in the Age of #TakeItDown

Edited by Juilee Decker, Associate Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology

Initial Interest Deadline: January 31, 2021 via email jdgsh@rit.edu

Cast in bronze, stone or otherwise created of seemingly permanent materials, monuments and memorials bear witness to valor, heroics, or tragedy associated with a person or historic event: as embodied narratives in the public realm, these works perpetuate, both implicitly and explicitly, the proxy battle for a community, culture, or nation’s past. However, national reckonings on racial injustice in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere have re-positioned monuments and memorials as an historical tripwire drawn taught by issues of race, colonization, and marginalization. Mounting concerns over extrajudicial killings of black men in the United States and national reckonings on social injustice have played out in our town squares, boulevards, university quadrangles, and administrative edifices in the form of protests, open calls for change, and action. Such grassroots initiatives have made clear how the visual (and nominal) remembrances of some contested historical figures undermine policies and practices of the institutions and communities where their likenesses exist. Thus, efforts entitled #TakeItDown, #RemoveConfederateStatues, and #RhodesMustFall, have recoiled at the very role of such representations and have born witness to acts of destruction, iconoclasm, removal, recontextualization, and/or re-presentation. In particular, the removal of the statue of British imperialist and politician Cecil Rhodes from its plinth at the University of Cape Town in April 2015 has spawned a wide-sweeping reconsideration and re-framing of memorials to figures involved in the Atlantic slave trade, British colonialism, absolute rule, white supremacy, and genocide.

Acknowledging the ways in which the past—which is embodied through monuments and memorials—intrudes into daily life in immediate, persistent, and anxious ways, this call for chapters seeks contributions from researchers, scholars, and practitioners that answer questions about the roles that monuments and memorials play in the staging of cultural, regional, national or other dramas as well as their anxieties, fears, and fabrications. By using monuments and memorials as lenses through which to view race, memory, and the legacies of war, power, and subjugation, this volume aims to show how these works and their visible representations of entitlement, possession, control, and authority can offer, anew, the opportunity to pose and answer questions about whose memory matters and what our symbols say about who we are and what we value. For it is through their desecration, destruction, removal, and re-contextualization, that monuments and memorials can lay to rest those values for which communities no longer have any use. The sculptures become a remembrance of things cast.

This edited volume seeks chapters comprising 5,000 words from authors whose research, scholarship, and/or public practice considers monuments, memorials, public memory, identity, and representation from across the globe. Given the impact of contemporary issues surrounding 19th-and 20th-century constructions, chapters focusing on monuments and memorials created during this era are of primary focus; although authors may tell the stories of earlier material culture and sites and their contestation, as long as the acts of destruction, iconoclasm, removal, recontextualization, and/or re-presentation have occurred since 2015, the age of #TakeItDown. Please note thatdiscussion of earlier acts of destruction, iconoclasm, or removal (prior to 2015) is viable only if new meanings, contextualizations, or re-considerations have occurred since 2015 that dramatically alter our understanding of the monument or memorial.

Possible topics might include:

  • case studies of the destruction, iconoclasm, removal, recontextualization, and/or re-presentation through repair of a monument or memorial since 2015 and the implications of these acts
  • discussion of grassroots iconoclasm in the 21st century, including the toppling of any monuments other than the bronze of Edward Colston, which was forcibly removed in June 2020 in Bristol, UK
  • analysis of how the removal of monuments and memorials contest historiographies and hagiographies
  • positioning of acts of destruction as performative, recursive, or dialogic
  • examination of how the modification or destruction of monuments and memorials may be seen as a performative act that questions the political power configured in public space or that questions how public space shapes public memory and politics
  • address of the ways in which the disruption of the built environment through monument and memorial removal, in turn, fractures understandings of history, memory, identity, bias, and representation
  • discussion of elision from our built environment
  • critique of how, through presence and subsequent absence, monuments and memorials offer insight, perspectives, and understandings of communal identity, continuation, and aspiration

Each chapter shall be 20 pages double-spaced plus notes, references, and no more than 2 images. Authors should express their interest by submitting a 500-word abstract, short bio, and any relevant information (such as pertinent URLs) to Juilee Decker jdgsh@rit.edu, by January 31, 2021.  Notification of acceptance will be made by February 22, 2021. The abstracts of the proposed chapters and the framing context for the edited volume will undergo peer-review, after which accepted authors must adhere to a deadline of late summer 2021 for completed manuscripts.

The chapters will be positioned in a volume to be published by a major scholarly press. While an editor at Routledge has expressed interest in the volume for their Museum & Heritage Studies list, all materials must undergo peer review before any commitment is made by the publisher.

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About the Editor: Juilee Decker, Ph.D. is an associate professor of history and director of the museum studies + public history program at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her research excavates histories and functions of museums and memorials as part of the process of understanding and critiquing constructions of knowledge and public memory in the U.S. In addition to her publications focused on museums and collections as well as exhibitions, Decker has served as an invited scholar for two National Endowment for the Humanities convenings around monuments and the Civil War (2013 and 2016). She has just completed a history of the national outdoor sculpture initiative in the US (forthcoming) and is currently at work on a manuscript focused on monuments, memorials, meaning-making, and memory practices in Kentucky. Decker earned her Ph.D. from the joint program in art history and museum studies at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals
Call for Editorial Board Members
Published by SAGE journals, https://journals.sagepub.com/home/cjx
See free sample issues here: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/cjxa/15/1

Founded in 2004, Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals is a multi-disciplinary journal addressing all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, understanding, interpreting, and organizing collections.The journal addresses the subject of collections in the areas of scholarly research, case studies, discussions and interviews, and other forms of publishable, peer-reviewed scholarship. Archivists, librarians, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, other professional staff, graduate students, academics, researchers, and others submit their work for review.

As a member of Collection‘s editorial board, you have a key role in the publication process and the success of the journal. The publication process is a collaborative venture: the Editor, the Editorial Board, SAGE, and authors contribute to and benefit from the journal in a range of capacities.

As a member of the Editorial Board, you will work closely with the Editor and colleagues to achieve the journal’s mission and, moreover, contribute to the journal in a variety of ways. Key among these are peer review and guest editorship. In terms of peer review, members of the Editorial Board may be asked to review or arrange for peer review of a reasonable number of manuscripts per year. The average length of an article or review essay is 15-25 manuscript pages (3750—6250 words); however, manuscripts range in length from a few pages to chapter-length studies.

Editorial Board members may assist in:

  • developing concepts for themed issues of the journal and locating guest editors, as appropriate, for such issues. For example, two special issues of the journal dedicated to women and collections were guest-edited by Consuelo Sendino, Margot Note, and Janet Ashton; S. Terry Childs and Gwenn Gallenstein guest-edited our forthcoming issue focused on archaeology and collections (in 2021); and Carrie Meyer has guest-edited our forthcoming issue focused on COVID-19 (in 2021).
  • encouraging appropriate submissions from a range of museum and archives professionals;
  • providing contributor contacts for the Editor to solicit manuscripts;
  • assisting the Editor in keeping abreast of trends and issues in the field;
  • helping to bring completed articles to their highest quality of content and form; and
  • broadening the discourse about collections to our national and international readership.

Names of the Editorial Board are proudly featured on the journal website and appear in each issue of the journal. Members of the Editorial Board, also, receive full access to the journal during their three-year tenure. Appointment to the Board is renewable.

I hope that you will accept this invitation to serve on the board. I would be delighted to have you join me, and SAGE, as a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals.

Sincerely,

Juilee Decker, Ph.D.

Upcoming Talk

My collaborator, John Äasp, and I are thrilled to announce that we are bringing Félix González-Torres’s Untitled (LA), 1991 to Rochester Institute of Technology’s RIT City Art Space, located in the historic Sibley Tower building at Liberty Pole Plaza. City Art Space is the College of Art and Design’s premier exhibition and event space in the center of downtown Rochester, NY. The work will be on view from November 2020 through February 2021, for which we have planned a slate of events. Stay tuned for more information and our upcoming collaboration with The Bass Museum, Miami, FL.

Upcoming Craftivism talk

“Making and Meaning: A Conversation with Betsy Greer & Crafting Democracy Artists” 
Thursday, October 29, 6 pm

Organized by Juilee Decker

Join us for a conversation about craftivism with stitcher, writer, and maker Betsy Greer (hellobetsygreer.com) and artists whose works are featured in the exhibition Crafting Democracy. We will also invite attendees to share their thoughts about the importance of craft and activism, its multiplicity of form, and potential for meaning-making.

Location: Zoom

Decorative poster with blue background and dark grey and bright yellow geometric-shaped accents and dark grey, blue, and yellow font giving the date, time of event described here: http://framelesslabs.rit.edu/symposium-2020/

Topics of Interest: Almost anything involving XR and immersive technologies is within the scope of the symposium. Papers, talks, workshops, demos, installations, performances, works-in-progress, and flash talks may cover any of the following topics:

Technology and analysis (system design, displays, optics, engineering, perception)

  • Theoretical Foundations (approaches as well as theories and aesthetics of XR)
  • XR Practices and Case Studies involving game design, storytelling, theatre, artistic expression, documentary, museums and cultural heritage, and health and well-being
  • XR Studies and Education (as a discipline or method, in formal and informal education)
  • History and Impact (analysis, critical history, societal impact, and influence on contemporary culture)
  • Analyses and Evaluation of Systems (UI/UX, affect and emotion, presence and engagement)
  • Archiving and Preservation of XR experiences as well as the use of these technologies to preserve cultural heritage and archaeological sites. 
  • Universal Design, Accessibility, and Inclusion (embodiment, modality, empathy, and representation)
  • Public Interest Technology (XR design, product development, journalism, or content created for the common good, social justice, or to serve the public)

Please consider submitting an abstract even if your research area is not listed above, as we seek broad and inclusive approaches to the concepts and themes related to XR. Info here: http://framelesslabs.rit.edu/symposium-2020/.

COVID museum experiences

https://covidmuseumsanonymous.wordpress.com/

A Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY), an initiative designed to capture people’s experiences of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, has put out a call for submissions regarding museums’ responses to the pandemic.

While there is a great deal of excellent work being done by museums and other cultural institutions in response to both the pandemic and the not-unrelated Black Lives Matter protests, this moment has also made working in the cultural sector more difficult for many already precariously-employed individuals. It is just as important to document these struggles as it is to document cultural institutions’ successes.

Though A Journal of the Plague Year cannot directly collect anonymous submissions, it can receive donations of third-party anonymous surveys. To that end, please use this survey to document any experiences you would not feel comfortable sharing publicly as someone who works in (or would like to work in) a cultural institution during this time.

Responses will be compiled weekly. Check the Survey Results page each Wednesday for updates.

Click Here to take the survey. The survey was designed by ETS of JOTPY. If you are interested in knowing more, contact me.

Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals invites articles on the subject of collections in the areas of scholarly research, case studies, guidelines, and discussions and interviews. In addition, proposals are invited for focus issues of the journal that seek to present a range of perspectives on a single topic. The journal also publishes book reviews.


Manuscripts submitted to Collections should not be under consideration by any other publishers, nor may the manuscript have been previously published elsewhere. If a manuscript is based on a lecture, reading, or talk, specific details should accompany the submission. A complete manuscript submission shall include the following:

• An abstract of no more than 150 words
• Manuscript (At the head of your submission, please include appropriate contact details that will appear in print. Contact details should include: name, title, institutional affiliation, and email.)
• Notes, References (Bibliographies and references should conform to Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, Notes and Bibliography)
• Illustrations (up to five figures or tables may be included with your submission). Captions should include appropriate credits. Authors are responsible for observing the laws of copyright when quoting or reproducing material and for any reproduction fees incurred.
• Journal Contributor Agreement

Submit your manuscripts online at mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cjx. Journal information may be found here.

View the journal archive here: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/CJX/current.

Frameless Symposium

Join us for our 5th annual symposium at RIT!

The Frameless Symposium is an interdisciplinary symposium focused on research, innovation, and artistic creation in the fields of virtual and augmented reality. The Symposium Committee invites contributions from users and creators of immersive technologies and experiences involved in academia, non-profit and educational organizations, and industry.

New this year! At this time, we intend to hold this conference virtually with the possible addition of onsite participation. Therefore, we are exploring options for distance participation through VR and other digitally synchronous means to broaden the range of opportunities for presentation and attendance.  Please stay tuned to the conference website where we will share information and updates.

Topics of Interest: Almost anything involving XR and immersive technologies is within the scope of the symposium. Papers, talks, workshops, demos, installations, performances, works-in-progress, and flash talks may cover any of the following topics:

Technology and analysis (system design, displays, optics, engineering, perception)

  • Theoretical Foundations (approaches as well as theories and aesthetics of XR)
  • XR Practices and Case Studies involving game design, storytelling, theatre, artistic expression, documentary, museums and cultural heritage, and health and well-being
  • XR Studies and Education (as a discipline or method, in formal and informal education)
  • History and Impact (analysis, critical history, societal impact, and influence on contemporary culture)
  • Analyses and Evaluation of Systems (UI/UX, affect and emotion, presence and engagement)
  • Archiving and Preservation of XR experiences as well as the use of these technologies to preserve cultural heritage and archaeological sites. 
  • Universal Design, Accessibility, and Inclusion (embodiment, modality, empathy, and representation)

Please consider submitting an abstract even if your research area is not listed above, as we seek broad and inclusive approaches to the concepts and themes related to XR.

Info here: http://framelesslabs.rit.edu/symposium-2020/.

Call for Papers

Focus Issue: Collections and COVID-19

Articles are sought for a focus issue of the journal Collections which will consider collections and COVID-19. How have museums, archives, and libraries been impacted by COVID-19? What impact has COVID-19 had on collections, particularly?

In particular this call seeks contributions which address any of the following:

  • institutional efforts at rapid response collecting;
  • the intrinsic value of building collections during this historic time;
  • the role and messaging of collections during the pandemic;
  • the shift to online collection display as a way of providing opportunities for online engagement while institutions are not permitting visitors;
  • the role of “essential staff” and their duties as related to collections;
  • the financial impact of COVID-19 on collections; and
  • other topics within the scope of “Collections and COVID-19”

For this issue, we are seeking articles, essays, and case studies of 2,000-3,000 words (8-12 pages double-spaced, plus notes and references). Authors should express their interest by submitting a 150-word abstract, anticipated article length, number of images, and any relevant information (such as context, short bio, pertinent URLs) to the guest editor carrie.meyer@unmc.edu and the journal editor jdgsh@rit.edu  by Tuesday, June 30, 2020.  

Notification of acceptance will be made by July 15, 2020, with the deadline for submission of final papers set for August 30, 2020 through the SAGE online submission portal. Publication is anticipated for volume 17 with an issue date of 2021. For additional information or to receive samples of the journal, please contact the journal editor, Juilee Decker, jdgsh@rit.edu.

Is your institution collecting materials related to CoVid-19? How is your museum addressing closure? In what ways are you pivoting toward re-opening?

You are invited to contribute to Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY): An Archive of CoVid-19, a crowdsourced public archive developed and run by a consortium of faculty, students, practitioners, and professionals across a number of fields who are interested in collecting digital artifacts of the CoVid-19 pandemic. Artifacts include the following submission formats such as photographs, textual personal accounts, video and audio recordings, screenshots of born-digital content including social media posts, emails, news stories, and memes.

We are particularly seeking submissions related to museums, and we invite you to contribute items in any number of ways!

We are seeking first-person accounts of the impact of CoVid-19 on your life and/or the life of your institution. What are the images of your institution’s closure to the public? What will be the new normal once your institution re-opens to the public?  

We are also seeking submissions related to materials in your collection that relate to CoVid-19. Are you actively collecting items related to CoVid-19? Are you undertaking rapid-response collecting? Do you have a home for these items online? You are invited to contribute your collections to the archive and have the Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY): An Archive of CoVid-19 host your items, with full credit and attribution to you and/or your institution as the Contributor. Or, we invite you to share your already-hosted content with the Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY): An Archive of CoVid-19, with full credit and attribution to you and/or your institution as the Contributor. [The difference between the two is that the former instance provides a home for content otherwise not online and/or not aggregated in one location by you or your institution: The Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY) becomes the repository for your content. The latter instance offers a snapshot of content that lives on your or your institution’s website, meaning that your permanent URLs are linked in the JOTPY site.

The Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY): An Archive of CoVid-19 is a crowdsourced initiative with more than 80 curators from across the US and Australia. The archive is supported by the Public History endowment at Arizona State University. The initiative was launched on March 13, 2020, and as of today, we have more than 5,000 contributions: https://covid19.omeka.net/items/browse. The majority are from the US, although we have representation from Australia, Peru, Brazil, Thailand, China, and many other locations.

We hope that you will consider joining our archival journey to document CoVid-19. You are welcome to upload your submission on the Share Your Story page. Check the box “Publish my contribution to the web” to make the submission visible on the site; otherwise it will remain private. Or, reach out to me, and I will be glad to help facilitate a single submission or multiple submissions from you or your institution. We also have some support through ASU to provide an intern who may be able to help with uploading your items to the JOTPY site.

Finally, we want to send a word of hope and promise. There is no question that the coronavirus emergency is deeply affecting all our lives. How will these times be remembered? We are hoping to build an archive that provides glimpses of what the crisis means to individuals, and we want to be sure that museums and their communities are represented. We hope you can join us!

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 

Juilee Decker, Museums Lead of Curatorial Team

Journal of the Plague Year (JOTPY): An Archive of CoVid-19