Tag Archives: memory

The Columbian Geography of Binghamton

As state employees and school children around the country enjoy their four-day work weeks, we at MAPA are hard at work deconstructing Columbus day, like any credible archaeology blog must. I am back, with my colleagues Andy Pragacz, to talk about Columbus commemorations. Thanks to BlackLivesMatter activism followed by far-right reaction, monuments, particularly of Confederate soldiers, have seized national and local news, bringing many archaeologists into the controversy: Rosemary Joyce and Paul Mullins, to name a few. As Columbus Day approached, many statues of Christopher Columbus were similarly ­­­­­­­­­questioned. Baltimore’s monument to Christopher Columbus, the first monument to the man in the United States, was smashed in August of this year. After recent vandalism of similar monuments in New York City, police are guarding the Columbus Circle monument in Manhattan from future attacks. Some in Minneapolis have suggested that a statue of Prince should replace their Columbus monument. In our own city of Binghamton, the statue of Christopher Columbus that adorns the Broome County Court House was spray painted “murderer” twice in as many weeks.  Binghamton residents tossed vegan bologna at a portrait of Cristobal Colon in Columbus Park, temporarily renamed Bologna Park for the occassion. The Columbus of  1492 is [Read More]

The Authorized Heritage Discourse of Labor, and why it matters

To wrap up, I’d like to consider the cases I’ve presented as they work within the Authorized Heritage Discourse. While united by the gravity of the events, the centrality of steel, coal, and trains to the modern United States, and my dissertation research- Homestead, Pullman, and Ludlow present three starkly contrasting ways of memorializing labor, and three stunning examples of the Authorized Heritage Discourse at work. At Homestead, the Authorized Heritage Discourse of the Waterfront Shopping Center is one of industry and nation building. When the history of the site must be confronted, (usually out of physical necessity) it is done so in a way that emphasizes the might of steel, and by extension, the United States because of it. This is a sanitized account of the history- where the Battle of Homestead, and workers at Homestead are relegated to the periphery- both figuratively in the narrative, and literally in the organization of the mall. At Pullman, the original Authorized Heritage Discourse of a model town is maintained, as the model homes that occupy it were built to last.  The history told of Pullman remains one of quaint historic homes, and what would have been state of the art amenities. [Read More]