Kristin Hass at Harvard Book Store


Blunt Instruments:
Recognizing Racist Cultural
Infrastructure in Memorials,
Museums, and Patriotic Practice

in conversation with TIYA MILES


January 27, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes KRISTIN HASS—Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan and Associate Director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life—for a discussion of her new book Blunt Instruments: Recognizing Racist Cultural Infrastructure in Memorials, Museums, and Patriotic Practice. She will be joined in conversation by TIYA MILES—author and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Blunt Instruments

Cultural infrastructure has been designed to maintain structures of inequality, and while it doesn’t seem to be explicitly about race, it often is. Blunt Instruments helps readers identify, contextualize, and name elements of our everyday landscapes and cultural practices that are designed to seem benign or natural but which, in fact, work tirelessly to tell us vital stories about who we are, how we came to be, and who belongs.

Examining landmark moments such as the erection of the first American museum and Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling pledge of allegiance, historian Kristin Hass explores the complicated histories of sites of cultural infrastructure, such as:

· the American Museum of Natural History

· the Bridge to Freedom in Selma

· the Washington Monument

· Mount Auburn Cemetery

· Kehinde Wiley’s 2019 sculpture Rumors of War

· the Victory Highway

· the Alamo Cenotaph

With sharp analysis and a broad lens, Hass makes the undeniable case that understanding what cultural infrastructure is, and the deep and broad impact that it has, is essential to understanding how structures of inequity are maintained and how they might be dismantled.

Praise for Blunt Instruments

"A fascinating, urgent, eye-opening, and necessary read, offering a vision for a nation where all can thrive." —Mark Clague, author of O Say Can You Hear? A Cultural Biography of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

"Breaks down the hidden meanings behind monuments, museums, and patriotic traditions, revealing not only that no act of memorialization can ever be neutral but also that the claim of neutrality is itself a weapon of cultural combat." —Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

"For anyone and everyone interested in creating a more socially just world, this is essential reading!" —Dr. Lisa Yun Lee, executive director, National Public Housing Museum

Kristin Hass
Kristin Hass

Kristin Hass

Kristin Hass is a Professor in the Department of American Culture and Faculty Coordinator of the Humanities Collaboratory at the University of Michigan. She lectures, teaches, and writes about nationalism, memory, publics, memorialization, militarization, race, visual culture, and material culture studies. She has written three books: Blunt Instruments: Recognizing Racist Infrastructure in Memorials, Museums, and Patriotic Practices; Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall; and Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hass is also the editor of Being Human During COVID. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies and has worked in several historical museums and was the co-founder and Associate Director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life.

Photo Credit: John Roe

Tiya Miles
Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles is a professor of history at Harvard University, the author of six prize-winning works in the history of early American race relations, and a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She is the founder and director of the Michigan-based ECO Girls program and the author of the National Book Award-winning, New York Times bestselling All That She Carried. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Stephanie Mitchell

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.


Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

General Info
(617) 661-1515

Media Inquiries

Accessibility Inquiries

Classic Totes

Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs
, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!

Learn More »

Shipping & Pickup

We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!

Learn More »

Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!

Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.

Learn More »