Article: “What are women’s prisons for?”

Amy Halliday, Chelsea Miller, and Julie Peterson, “‘What are women’s prisons for?’: Gendered states of incarceration and history as an agent for social change,” Museums & Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse 12, no. 1 (April 2017): 56-66, https://doi.org/10.1080/15596893.2017.1292104.

ABSTRACT
As the exhibition States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories travels the nation, visitors will explore the roots of mass incarceration in our communities. While mass incarceration has garnered increased media and scholarly attention in recent years, mainstream analyses overlook the role of gender, even as women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population in the United States. This article argues that women’s incarceration and the gendered aspects of the carceral state need to become more prominent in the national narrative, and that museums and public history institutions, in partnership with local communities, have the potential to lead this effort. Archival research and oral history interviews with community activists on the ground shed light on the gendered aspects of incarceration in the United States while, at the same time, amplifying the voices of community members and activists. Doing so provides a model for how museums and public history professionals can become active participants in promoting social change.

KEYWORDS
Carceral studies, gender, Massachusetts, mass incarceration, oral history, public memory

PDF
Halliday et al, “‘What are women’s prisons for?’ Gendered states of incarceration and history as an agent for social change,” MSI 12, no. 1 (April 2017): 56-66.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We extend our gratitude to the individuals who provided their support and expertise throughout our work on this project, including: Lois Ahrens, Marianne Bullock, L. Mara Dodge, Joyce Follet, Solobia Hutchins, Mel Motel, Kathleen Nutter, Olga Pedraza, Samuel Redman, Tina Reynolds, Holly Richardson, Rachel Roth, Loretta Ross, and Christopher Tinson; and to the organizations who supported our research in a multitude of ways: the Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition, the Just Schools Project, the Prison Birth Project, Real Cost of Prisons Project, Voices from Inside, the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, the Humanities Action Lab at the New School, and the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. We also give many thanks to the editors of Museums & Social Issues and the two anonymous reviewers for their feedback and assistance with this article. Fellow contributors to this project from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Western Massachusetts included: Shakti Castro, Alexandria Champion, Amanda Dente, Hallie Dunlap, Olivia Ekeh, Katherine Fecteau, Jennifer Fronc, Peggy Hart, Anna Holley, Felicia Jamison, Jessica Johnson, Danny McNulty, Marla Miller, Freda Raitelu, Rebekkah Rubin, David Ruyman, Natalie Sherif, and Sean Smeland.

Internship Update: The Third Space in Material Culture

This blog post originally appeared on The Harold, and is part of a series of essays, opinions, and reviews written by students, faculty, and staff of the Institute for Curatorial Practice.

As an intern for the Institute for Curatorial Practice, I am particularly struck by ICP’s ability to bring a wide range of collections into one conversation. I saw this in action during the ICP’s summer program. I received a graduate fellowship that enabled me to attend the five-week program and to lead a co-curated digital exhibition, BODY [IN/AS] LANDSCAPE. My teammates and I created an exhibition that explores how human forms and activities transform landscapes, and what new landscapes are produced by an artist’s intervention in the landscape. The exhibition draws from several collections, including the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Hampshire College Special Collections, Smith College Museum of Art, the University Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Mead Art Museum. While these collections are part of the Five College Consortium, they remain separate. But the ICP opens up the possibility of bringing them together. After this summer, I felt inspired by the concept of digital exhibitions.

Continue reading “Internship Update: The Third Space in Material Culture”

body / freedom / art: Rethinking disability through art

This post originally appeared on the National Museum of American History’s blog O Say Can You See

Smithsonian Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman’s Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum’s disability history collections and write blog posts sharing their research. The blogs are part of the celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the American Disabilities Act.

What is disability? Performance artist, writer, and actor Neil Marcus encourages his audience to rethink disability as something that is not medical or physiological. Rather, Marcus suggests, “Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.” Based on this perspective, Marcus aims to live artfully: non-medically, non-stereotypically, and full of soul.

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A Definition Intervention: Historicizing Public History (book review)

Meringolo, Denise D. Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.

In recent years, debates have festered in the effort to define what “public history” means. In an intervention in the “definition debate,” Denise D. Meringolo issues a call to public historians to move toward a proactive effort to historicize and theorize what distinguishes public history from the broader field of history.[1] Meringolo suggests that exploring the history of public history will enable a more thorough understanding of the field. This new genealogy of public history locates the field’s emergence in the efforts of government workers who began to put history to work for the public. Meringolo argues that the National Park Service History Division established history as a public service, and examines the challenges and decisions of these “prototypical public historians” to reveal the ways in which the evolution of government sponsored research and education enabled the creation of the Smithsonian Institute and National Park Service.[2]  Continue reading “A Definition Intervention: Historicizing Public History (book review)”

Sharing/Shared Authority: Public Curation through “a Kaleidoscopic Lens” (book review)

Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, eds. Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World. Philadelphia: Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, 2011.

Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World interrogates the prospect of shared historical authority in public history practice, as a contribution to the “thought leadership” initiatives of the Pew Center For Arts & Heritage. In this anthology, twenty-four contributors examine how museum constituents join in interpretation and the creation of meaning, and what this means for professional museum staff. Shared authority seems to offer a possible solution to the question of how to make history museums more relevant to their communities and more receptive to outside partners, voices, and interpretations.

Continue reading “Sharing/Shared Authority: Public Curation through “a Kaleidoscopic Lens” (book review)”