Department of History, Heritage and Classics. History Research Seminar. Sponsored by CHART / DePOT. Wednesday, 17 November 2021 1.15pm
Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts (IUPUI)
Focusing on heritage sites in the US and UK, this talk examines the public memory of environmental harm, particularly in post-industrial sites. While narratives lauding industrial accomplishments and celebrating workers are well-known, less studied are accounts of industrial legacies of environmental harm. This research investigates the ways in which harmful impacts are presented, and explores more broadly how concepts of nature and the environment figure in site interpretation. While the histories are often site-specific, the narratives intersect in interesting ways with current discourses, particularly around climate justice, environmental justice, neoliberal politics, corporate accountability, and late capitalism. This talk deploys a critical heritage lens to explore some of the contexts and constraints of post-industrial heritage sites in contrast to other parts of the broader cultural heritage sector ecosystem. Specifically, it interrogates why, at a time when museums are turning a self-critical eye toward decolonizing their institutional practices, reckoning with slavery and racial inequities, and engaging in difficult topics, few post-industrial heritage sites or exhibits seem to be making connections between past industrial activities and their negative environmental impact.