Kristin Hass at Harvard Book Store

presenting

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

in conversation with TIYA MILES

Date

Jan
27
Friday
January 27, 2023
7:00 PM ET

Location

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

Tickets

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 professor of history and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. She is a public historian who works at the intersections of African American, Indigenous and women's histories. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Miles is the author of New York Times best-selling and National Book Award-winning All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake; The Dawn of Detroit, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize; Ties That Bind; The House on Diamond Hill; The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts; and Tales from the Haunted South.

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