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Open access

Stephan Jaeger

This article provides an analysis of how military history museums in Germany, Britain, Belgium, Poland, and the United States exhibit and contextualize weapon technologies that were developed in the two world wars. The article focuses on technologies (gas warfare, the atomic bomb, tanks, and the V2 long-range rocket) that are directly connected to military success and innovation but also relate to dehumanization and destruction. By employing the analytical concepts of experientiality and of antagonistic, cosmopolitan, and entangled memory, this article demonstrates how museums can create open or closed narratives, steer the visitor toward particular interpretations, enhance or deconstruct the authentic aura of technological artifacts, and stage the symbolic potential of technologies. In addition, it shows how museums can educate visitors and allow them to experience the ambiguities, controversies, and complexities of these technologies.

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Apryl Berney

Drawing on interviews with Black women who sang in all-female vocal groups during the late 1950s and early 1960s, I examine the important role played by integrated public and private schools in the formation of the 1960s girl group phenomenon. From talent shows to choir practice, locker rooms to hallways, Black girls took up audible space in institutions of higher learning whenever they harmonized with friends or acquaintances. The collective identities Black girls created in their vocal groups allowed them to challenge racial and gender stereotypes in the civil rights era while also modeling sisterhood and friendship for subsequent generations of girls.

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Katie Scott Newhouse

In this article, I use data collected as part of my dissertation (Newhouse 2020) to inquire into how one participant, Joanna, who self-identifies as a Black girl, described her lived experiences while attending the Voices alternative-to-detention program. I use the theoretical framework of disability studies in education and critical race theory (DisCrit) with critical spatial theory to analyze collected ethnographic data, such as in-depth field notes, audio-recorded informal conversations, and semi-structured interviews, to show the space Joanna co-created with adult facilitators to center her lived experiences. An attention to the spatial dimension shows how spaces are agentive and has important implications for developing and sustaining educational spaces that cultivate an understanding of the geographies that draw from and center Black girls’ lived experiences.

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Dear Mama

A Luo’s Letter Addressing Gossips, Girl Fights, and Gashes

Esther O. Ohito

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“Dreamland”

Black Girls Saying and Creating Space through Fantasy Worlds

S.R. Toliver

The rampant murder of Black women and girls in the United States proves that this place is not safe for them. In fact, it is questionable whether any space currently known can be safe when antiblackness and misogynoir are interwoven into the fabric of our world. For this reason, researchers must explore the unbound landscapes Black girls create for themselves in fantastic narratives. In this article, I examine the fantasy short stories of two Black middle school girls who participated in a writing workshop to explore how they resisted spatial control by creating new worlds they had the power to construct and dismantle.

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Hostile Geographies

Black Girls Fight to Save Themselves and the World

Dehanza Rogers

In this article, I engage in a parallel reading of the consumption of Black girlhood in speculative fiction in the television series The Passage, and the film The Girl with All the Gifts, and in the classroom. In these texts are nonconsensual attempts to harvest biological materials from Black girls, exhibiting the belief that Black bodies are utilitarian, at best, and meant for consumption. Like these narratives, the classroom consumes Black girls physically along with their futures. I explore how Black girl resistance disrupts such consumption and interrogate texts in which Black girls create narratives for themselves. In these narratives, so-called disposable Black girls map out new cartographies of narrative resistance and new liberatory geographies for their future.

Free access

Introduction

Places of Progress? Technology Museums, Memory, and Education

Christian Kehrt and Daniel Brandau

“Revolutionary” technologies or large technological systems are often deemed controversial, risky, or ambivalent. Diverging interpretations clash when technological objects, such as rockets, airplanes, or nuclear reactors, are exhibited in museums or at heritage sites, with profound implications for underlying concepts of historical education. This special issue explores the argument that histories of technology have often upheld a traditional view of modern linear progress but became the focus of controversies when the social, political, and cultural conditions of perceiving and remembering these objects changed. At former “places of progress,” visitors and exhibition makers are confronted with the remains of the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, two World Wars, the Cold War, the Age of Coal, the Space Age, the Atomic Age and the Digital Age. Exhibitions and displays have been used to explain, teach, or make sense of the advents, successes, and failures of high-tech projects. Understanding technological artifacts and corresponding sites such as Chernobyl, Peenemünde, and Hiroshima as well as structures such as factories or bunkers as sites of memory (lieux de mémoire, a term coined by Pierre Nora) shifts our attention to processes of remembering modern technologies and the cases in which established narratives of progress have been supported or challenged. Questions about the ethics of technology use often seem to subvert stories of the “heroes of invention,” leaving visitors with the impression of technological ambivalence. Attempts to teach and learn about history and technology via objects and sites have been complicated, politicized, and contested.

Open access

Peenemünde Contested

Remembering Second World War Technologies in Rural East Germany from 1984 to 1992

Daniel Brandau

Given Peenemünde’s ambivalent military and technological history, from rocket development during the Nazi period to East German naval and air bases during the Cold War, its musealization was considered both a chance and challenge during the region’s deindustrialization in the 1990s. Local residents’ support of veteran engineers promoting an apologetic view of Nazi rocketry was met with bewilderment. However, a space park project and anniversary event were spearheaded by government and industry representatives, turning a regional affair into an international controversy. The article analyzes the function of memory work and the remembrance of technological progress in rural northeastern Germany before and after German reunification. Based on archival sources and interviews with former officers and museum advocates, it traces the Peenemünde museum project through a history of ideological and biographical caesurae, enthusiasm, political promises, and socioeconomic despair.

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Renewed Possibilities

Showcasing the Lived Realities of Black Girls using Ethnopoetics

Dywanna Smith

In this article, I explore how ethnopoetics can be a profound research methodology and can also offer a pathway to self-actualization. When ethnopoetics is combined with a Black feminist/womanist theoretical framework, it allows for Black girls to self-define and self-validate their existence. The verse novel provides an opportunity to communicate Black girls’ and women’s feelings and experiences to researchers and educators in accessible ways. It also serves as a platform to grieve, praise, love, and grow. Such work stands in marked contrast to dominant narratives of Black girlhood.

Open access

Ruin of Empire

The Uganda Railway and Memory Work in Kenya

Norman Aselmeyer

This article is concerned with the memory of the Uganda Railway in Kenya. Built during the heyday of British imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century, the colonial railway has been a highly contested infrastructure. Drawing on museum exhibitions, public speeches, and publications, the article argues that the main narrative of the railway line as a tool of oppression began to change when the railway infrastructure gradually deteriorated in the mid-twentieth century. I show how three distinct groups (white expatriates, Kenyan-Asians, and Kenya’s political elite) were involved in creating a new public memory that popularized the Uganda Railway as a cornerstone of the postcolonial nation. Their uncoordinated but simultaneous efforts toward a new reading of the past all aimed, albeit for different reasons, at reimagining the nation. The article thus shows mechanisms of coming to terms with the colonial past in a postcolonial nation.