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Historic Preservation Symposium to Address Conflict, Violence and Preservation


Should we as a society work to preserve historic sites notorious for their connection to violence and conflict? That’s the essential question that will be discussed at a special conference this Friday at the University of Kentucky.  From UK Now:

When designers, planners, preservationists and others shape the landscape, they determine which pieces of the past will be allowed to tell their stories, and which will not. Sites strongly associated with violence, discrimination or tragedy represent a unique subset of historic sites; they tell stories that everyone in the present may not always want to hear.

National and international experts from these fields will come together tomorrow to explore these issues at this year’s Historic Preservation Symposium — “Conflict, Violence and Preservation: Interpreting difficult history” — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 31, at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Presented by the Department of Historic Preservation in the University of Kentucky College of Design, the annual symposium welcomes the public to engage with these speakers and discuss preservation’s role in continuing the conversation at this free event.

“The event will explore the modern place of artifacts of the past that reflect a legacy of racial, religious, cultural or class-oriented conflict, and will ask whether we can learn the lessons these places offer if they are not present in the landscape,” said Doug Appler, assistant professor of historic preservation in the College of Design.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of the Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the 10 U.S. centers where Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps during World War II;
  • Anne Thomas, coordinator of the Stolpersteine project that honors Holocaust victims throughout Europe;
  • Sean Kelley, the director of interpretation and public programming at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which has become a platform for questioning policies of mass incarceration; and
  • Sia Sanneh, senior attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), discussing EJI's plans to build the Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, to honor the victims of lynching in the United States.

For more information, contact Doug Appler at douglas.appler@uky.edu.