“We Talk, You Listen!”

June 13, 2024

The Humboldt Forum conjures up many layers of memory for German audiences. Standing on the site that was once the Royal Palace of Berlin and later a building dedicated to the GDR’s propaganda machine, and linked to controversies about stolen collections and the role of private investors in public projects, the Forum is ripe with contested meanings. As we know from our own work in Baltimore, historians are not the only ones invested in the project of memory-making. From tour guides, to politicians, urban planners, museum workers, educators and more, many contribute to the work of remembering and meaning-making.

“This history jumps out at you”

June 6, 2024

During our meetings in Berlin last March, members of the Hard Histories research team Martha S. Jones, Lauren Feldman and myself, Malaurie Pilatte, along with our fellow travelers — Ariela Gross, Leslie M. Harris, Jean Hébrard, Ben Gerstein, Hélène Quanquin, and Jakob Vogel — spent time walking around the city to learn from and observe concrete markers of history, as well as monuments. 

Memory in Many Directions

May 30, 2024

During our spring 2024 meetings, we asked participants to reflect upon their hard histories work by sorting through the relationship between the historical past and the ways in which that past is remembered and memorialized in the present. We sat down together as those who study the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe, and then looked for both contrasts and connections. We were also historians of slavery, racism, genocide, feminism, and colonialism, and all experienced with the dilemmas that arise when history and memory collide: in the archives, classrooms, scholarly exchanges, university culture, courthouses, and in our own relationships to historical writing and the production of new knowledge.

The Stewardship of Human Remains

April 18, 2024

An end of 2023 story — “Maryland Seeks to Return African American Remains Stored in State Lab” — sent a current through Hard Histories. Governor Wes Moore announced an initiative dedicated to identifying human remains in the state’s possession and then returning them to “lineal descendants or to an appropriately culturally affiliated group.” The project’s first undertaking will be the remains of 15 African American individuals long-held by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.

Alumni Take Us Deeper into the Hopkins Past

April 11, 2024

Baltimore’s local schools were again in the news this past week; Reckoning with the slaveholding past continues. Reported by Rona Kobell for the Baltimore BannerGoucher College hosted a two-day long gathering — a Descendant Engagement Symposium — part of its accounting for how its “wooded campus … was once part of one of the largest plantations in the state of Maryland, where the Ridgely family enslaved hundreds of Black Marylanders. There was no one to relieve them from the harsh conditions they endured; their enslaver, Charles Carnan Ridgely, was also governor of Maryland from 1815 to 1818.”

The Collapse of the Key Bridge

April 4, 2024

When news broke of the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Hard Histories Lab was in the midst of a workshop week, in discussions between Paris and Berlin with colleagues confronting the difficult past of the U.S., the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Details first came to us via social media, but over the next days stories appeared in our local papers, including Paris’s Le Monde – State of Emergency Declared After Baltimore Bridge Collapses” – and Berlin’s Der Spiegel – Brücke in Baltimore Bricht Nach Kollision mit Schiff Zusammen.” This blow to Baltimore’s infrastructure, economy, and everyday life-blood was world news.

Our Universities, Our Cities, Ourselves: A Webinar

March 25, 2024

This week, the Hard Histories Lab and its guests are meeting in Berlin, hosted by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study. Our feature event is a live webinar with historians Ariela Gross (UCLA) and Leslie Harris (Northwestern) to talk about the complexities of how questions about history, memory, and reckoning surrounding legacies of racism and discrimination operate across and between national borders. As always, registration is easy and free, here.

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