Gaines Center’s Clark Lectureship to Explore Impact Symbols of Slavery Still Have Today

Jessica Wong

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2021) — As the country continues to grapple with social justice issues, the question of what to do with statues and imagery related to the Confederacy and America’s antebellum past continues to be debated. To explore this topic, the Gaines Center for the Humanities’ Thomas D. Clark […]

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2021) As the country continues to grapple with social justice issues, the question of what to do with statues and imagery related to the Confederacy and America’s antebellum past continues to be debated. To explore this topic, the Gaines Center for the HumanitiesThomas D. Clark Lectureship in the Humanities presented by historian Ana Lucia Araujo, professor at Howard University, will address the topic. Araujo’s free public lecture, “The Persistence of the Past: Coming to Terms with the Long History of Slavery in the Americas,” will be given 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, on Zoom.

The 2021 Clark Lecture is based on Araujo’s recent book “Slavery in the Age of Memory: Engaging the Past” (Bloomsbury, 2020). As part of her Clark Lecture, Araujo explores how memory of slavery is racialized and gendered. She shows that calls to take down Confederate monuments and pro-slavery statues that became more visible over the last few years and especially during the summer of 2020, are more than just attempts to come to terms with the past. Using examples from the United States, Britain and France, Araujo shows that debates about the past of slavery are associated with the persistent racial inequalities, racism and white supremacy which still shape societies where slavery existed.

Individuals interested in watching the Araujo’s 2021 Clark Lecture, “The Persistence of the Past,” are asked to register ahead of the Zoom event at https://uky.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_h2CiYXgKSFee8jcUdZpnJw.

Ana Lucia Araujo is a full professor of history at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her recent single-authored books include “Slavery in the Age of Memory,” “Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History” and “Brazil Through French Eyes: A Nineteenth-Century Artist in the Tropics.”

Araujo is a member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project. She also serves on the Board of Editors of the American Historical Review and the editorial board of Slavery and Abolition. She is a member of the executive board of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide Diaspora, the editorial review board of the African Studies Review, and the board of the blog Black Perspectives maintained by the African American Intellectual History Society.

Currently, Araujo is working on two book projects: “Human in Humans in Shackles: An Atlantic History of Slavery in the Americas” (under contract with University of Chicago Press) and “The Gift: How Objects of Prestige Shaped the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism” (under contract with Cambridge University Press). She just finished “Museums and Atlantic Slavery,” a short-format book to be published this spring by Routledge in the series Routledge Museums in Focus.

The Gaines Center’s Clark Lectureship provides funding to host a visiting lecturer. The lectureship allows Bingham Seminar instructor(s) to invite a distinguished person in the field of study to present two lectures, one for the public and the other for the seminar. Araujo’s lecture is presented in conjunction with the 2020 Mary C. Bingham Seminar on “Slavery in American Memory.”

“Dr. Araujo is an exceptionally productive and influential scholar whose writings on historical memory of slavery in international contexts are unparalleled. I am thrilled she has agreed to be the Clark Lecturer for 2021. Her upcoming talk should interest faculty, students and communities throughout Kentucky,” Daniel Vivian, the 2020 Bingham Seminar instructor, said. “At a time when Americans are again grappling with racial inequality and injustice, Dr. Araujo’s writings probe the historical roots of those problems while showing how people throughout the Americas are working to instill a full accounting of the past in public consciousness. Her research shows how narratives of the past shape contemporary realities and why true justice demands an honest reckoning with history. Ultimately, Dr. Araujo’s writings offer tremendous hope, for they point the path toward a more just and equitable society.”

The Bingham Seminar provides faculty and students a chance to explore a subject not in the university’s regular course offerings. The seminar provides funding to offset the cost of course development and two to four weeks of study either in the U.S. or abroad. Ten students are selected to participate in the seminar by competitive application. 

The Bingham Seminar on “Slavery in American Memory” is being led by Daniel Vivian, chair of the Department of Historic Preservation in UK College of Design. Vivian’s seminar focused on the political and cultural significance of remembrance — the combination of remembering and forgetting that has shaped public views of the past and perspectives of particular social groups. Students in this course investigated the narratives of the Civil War and emancipation, the romanticizing of the Old South, African Americans’ views of emancipation and racial progress, and 20th-century debates over race, equality and citizenship.

“The Bingham Seminar is one of the most important programs offered by the Gaines Center for the Humanities. It has allowed faculty and students to learn and travel around the world and the U.S. Although this offering of the Bingham Seminar is closer to home due to the constraints of COVID-19, this course allows students and faculty an opportunity for an intensive humanities experience in and out of the classroom. Thanks to Zoom, Professor Vivian’s class will be able to travel both in time and place with the important scholarly contribution of Dr. Araujo,” Gaines Center Director Melynda Price said.

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK’s campus. The center is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty. The Gaines Center embraces varied paths of knowledge and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.        

For more information on the Clark Lecture or Bingham Seminar, call the Gaines Center at 859-257-1537 or email Associate Director Chelsea Brislin at [email protected]

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