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Archives for Slavery, race, and public monuments

Tangled Histories

My wife Elizabeth Thomas and I have just launched our new collaborative blog, Tangled Histories, connected to our ongoing book project on William Holland Thomas (her gg grandfather), the Eastern Cherokee, and the long history of white supremacy — as it unfolded in the amazing microcosm of western North Carolina. The inaugural entry is Elizabeth’s beautiful [...]

Listening to images

In my last post I mentioned the image of John C. Calhoun paired with a chained slave, honored in a stained-glass window at Yale College through the late 1980s.  There it stared generations of privileged students – including myself – in the face, and somehow most of us didn’t, or couldn’t, register its horror. I [...]

Slavery and the Human Condition

Four prisoners, naked, arms bound behind their backs, chained to a pedestal: these are the so-called “Four Moors,” sculpted by Pietro Tacca, which decorate the four corners of a monument to the Medici nobleman, Grand Duke Ferdinando.  Finished in 1626, this extraordinary monument still stands facing the harbor of Livorno, an important Tuscan seaport until [...]

E Pluribus Unum

Michael Elliott, author of the fascinating book Custerology, has recently challenged scholars “to find ways of engaging more directly with the publics who design, administer, and visit sites of commemoration.” He goes on to say that scholars need “to think about how we can train ourselves and our graduate students to engage with nonacademic publics [...]