Making a Difference? Challenges to (Re)Evaluating Exhibitions of Violence

A Workshop with Joy Sather-Wagstaff, Ph.D.

Monday, November 21st, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
LB-1014 (History Dept. seminar room)

In this workshop I will provide a brief overview of my work at two sites on two exhibitions. First, work with the collecting curators of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History September 11: Bearing Witness to History 2002-03 exhibit will be presented in the context of discussing shifting contexts of exhibit interpretation. Second, my collaborative project with Rebekah Sobel on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2009-present From Memory to Action: Meeting the Challenge of Genocide Today exhibit will be discussed as a further entry point to facilitating workshop conversation. This conversation will center on issues and challenges specific to evaluating the actual and potential social justice impacts of museum exhibitions on both the aftermaths and ongoing progression of violent events of scale.

Dr. Joy Sather-Wagstaff is an assistant professor of anthropology at North Dakota State University in Fargo ND, US. She received her Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. Since 2001, her research has focused on the anthropology of tourism, memory, and tragedy, concentrating specifically on commemorative landscapes and institutions/exhibitions memorializing and historicizing violent events of scale. Dr. Sather-Wagstaff’s comparative ethnographic research includes ten years of work on and at 9/11 memorial sites and exhibits in New York City, Washington, DC, and other US/international sites, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Museum, and archives, and work at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. See Dr. Sather-Wagstaff’s faculty profile here.

Dr. Sather-Wagstaff will also be giving the Annual Public History Lecture on Tuesday, November 22nd.

Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence