A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to participate in one of the most interesting and important dialogues I have been involved in as a historian. The occasion was the second of a series of forums on the “MIT and Slavery” project, an investigation of MIT’s relationship to slavery that MIT’s President Rafael Reif commissioned at the end of last academic year. The project has been spearheaded by my colleague Craig Wilder, who had the brilliant idea of creating an undergraduate research seminar (along with MIT archivist Nora Murphy) to undertake the investigation. The first forum in the series featured Craig and Nora as well as T.A. Claire Kim and a genuinely spectacular cohort of undergrads, who spoke on that day with a composure and degree of insight one would expect to see from an advanced historian (video here). The second forum, in which I was joined by Craig and MIT SHASS Dean Melissa Nobles as well as historians Tanalís Padilla and Lerna Ekmekçioğlu, was a follow-up response to questions from the MIT community about the purpose of studying this chapter of MIT’s past. The panel opened up onto a broader discussion of “the power of historical knowledge to make a better world,” from which I learned a great deal (not least by way of the lively Q&A with the audience that followed). A video recording of the event can be found here, and a news summary here. The event was organized by Emily Hiestand of the MIT SHASS Dean’s office.
For those in the Boston area on Feb. 27, here’s a nice image of a panel I will be doing at Brandeis that afternoon/evening on “The Limits of Revolution” with Chris Brown, Suzanne Desan, and myself. The panel is part of the Brandeis Sawyer Seminar Rethinking the Age of Revolution (directed by Jane Kamensky and Sue Lanser with their fabulous postdoc fellow Julia Gaffield):
I am thrilled and delighted that my old friends at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island (a favorite research location) have remounted a new version of the 2004 exhibition that I curated in connection with the JCB’s bicentennial conference on the Haitian Revolution. The exhibition is open now through the end of April 2014 and is accompanied by a wonderful digital version that you can access here. The new version of the exhibition is part of a collaboration between the JCB and the New York Historical Society. If you have not yet seen the scintillating essays in the NYHS’s Revolution! volume that came out a few years ago (edited by Rabinowitz, Dubois, and Bender), by all means hasten to read them. Thanks so much to Susan Danforth, the JCB’s George S. Parker Curator of Maps and Prints, for all she did to make this new edition of the exhibition possible, and to Leslie Tobias Olsen for work on the website version. Looking forward to marking the occasion with a lecture on Haiti at the JCB on March 8 and, even before then, at a Feb. 21 panel that is part of the “Curators on International Slavery” series at Brown on Feb. 20-21, 2014.