Ruth J. Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Forgetting History and Recovering Collective Memories of Enslavement in the North: Lunch Talk with Marc Howard Ross

CSSJ Seminar Room
94 Waterman St

“Forgetting History and Recovering Collective Memories of Enslavement
in the North”

Marc Howard Ross, 
Bryn Mawr College 

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Marc Howard RossSlavery existed in all the colonies and later states in the North beginning in 1626 and only ending in 1865. Yet our popular histories and collective memories virtually ignored its existence and saw slavery as a Southern problem. Why and how did this happen? How, in recent decades, has there been a growing popular awareness of enslavement in the North? To address these large questions, Ross will outline the centrality of popular narratives, ritual expressions and enactments, and a presence on the public and commemorative landscape to the existence and transmission of collective memories. Finally, he suggests six plausible explanations for the attrition of collective memories of enslavement in the region and how overcoming each has contributed to an increasing awareness of the North’s participation in slavery.

Marc Howard Ross is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Bryn Mawr College where he taught Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies from 1968-2014. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University, and is the author of six books including most recently Slavery in the North: Forgetting History and Recovering Memory” (2018, University of Pennsylvania Press), and Cultural Contestation in Ethnic Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2007). His research experience is wide ranging and includes field research focusing on ethnic and racial conflict in Kenya, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, South Africa and the United States.