TAKE DOWN THE WALLPAPER.
If you were in my shoes right now you would be standing on the first floor of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities where you spend most days working, studying, eating, and sometimes sleeping. Located at 357 Benefit Street, the building is part historic house, part workplace, part student space, but primarily serves as the public humanities department at Brown University. It is also home to “Views of North America,” a wallpaper depicting racist caricatures in a landscape of colonial fantasy.
Views of North America?
What’s going on here? As students and professionals in the field of arts, culture, history, and heritage we think a lot about interpreting complicated places and objects. The public humanities is “a practice that works for social justice and that explores the intersectionalities of race, class, gender and sexualities” (Smulyan). The Center offers degree programs, engaged research, and innovative conferences help students, practitioners and communities make the humanities meaningful and accessible. How does the built environment of the house reflect the accessible, publicly engaged work we do? Explore the chapters at the top of this page to learn more.