Seminar Session 6 (2/24): Presentation by David Cunningham (Sociology)

February 24, 2017 - 10:00am
McMillan 219

David Cunningham will be sharing with us recent findings from a project entitled "Building Mnemonic Capacity: Public and Private Memories of the 1979 'Greensboro Massacre,'" a project he has recently undertaken with two collaborators: Christina Simko from Williams College and Nicole Fox from the University of New Hampshire. Using the case of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (considered by most to be the first formally-constituted TRC in the U.S.), the group is interested in the manner in which such institutions seek to construct collective critical understandings (“truths”) that build capacity around communal efforts to reconcile divisive pasts. While these efforts frequently highlight the public airing of individual testimonies that serve as a basis for a collective account of contentious histories, we know less about how such public narratives differ from those shared in private. Making use of two sets of narratives (private statements given to commission members, considered alongside - and in comparison with - testimony offered in public hearings), our project integrates network and interpretive analyses to interrogate continuities and disjunctures between accounts offered publicly vs. privately. 

At this point, the associated paper is very much in progress, so we will be discussing two related works: the first a previously-published paper from the same GTRC project that adopts a similar analytic approach, and the second an essay by Deborah Posel that considers the kinds of narratives typically elicited through TRCs (and thus ideally helps us think about distinctions between public and private memory).