I am happy to announce two new publications related to new heritage and the African American past, published during the academic year 2012-2013. These publications present some of my thoughts regarding the emerging theoretical and methodological intersections between new media technologies and African American history.
The first article, New Heritage and Dark Tourism: A Mixed Methods Approach to Social Justice in Rosewood, Florida was published in Heritage & Society. Here’s the abstract:
Scholars of ‘difficult heritage’ continue to seek new methods for producing meaningful engagements with diverse audiences while simultaneously supporting the goals of social justice. This article specifically examines the potential ‘new heritage’ has for social justice at dark tourism sites. New heritage is the intersection of new media technologies and cultural heritage, whereas dark tourism refers to the visitation of sites where tragedy or death is a primary aspect of a place’s history. The author outlines a mixed methods approach combining virtual world environments and digital storytelling to support social justice. The article’s case study focuses on Rosewood, Florida; a once prosperous African American community destroyed during a weeklong episode of violence in 1923. This event ended with the systematic burning of every black-owned building and the complete expulsion of the area’s African American population. Dark tourism sites often provoke an emotional response from visitors. A deep emotional engagement with a place’s history is often a requirement for engaging visitors. This article closes with a discussion of how new heritage can avoid depoliticizing complex histories of disenfranchisement while eliciting poignant and critical reflection from visitors.
The other article, Intersectional Violence, New Media, and the 1923 Rosewood Pogromwas published in the second issue of the inaugural volume of Fire: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies. Fire is the Association for the Study of African American Life and History‘s second journal. This organization also publishes The Journal of African American History. Here’s the abstract:
This article provides a broad overview of emerging new media technologies as they support the traditional goals of Black Studies. Three specific forms of new media are explored in relation to the tragic history of Rosewood, Florida: virtual world environments, online worlds, and digital storytelling. These technologies were combined to bring the development and destruction of Rosewood to life in the present. A predominantly African American town, Rosewood was destroyed by racially charged collective violence during the first week of 1923. Although, referred to as the Rosewood Race Riot or Massacre, this event is more accurately described as a pogrom. The article also introduces the author’s conceptualization of intersectional violence, a deeply contextual analysis of historic violence as it relates to the present. The construction of a virtual world environment and investigation of intersectional violence are made possible by the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to document the spatial and social landscape of Rosewood. The intersection of new media, heritage, and Black Studies is viewed herein as a constellation of methods available to researchers interested in resisting the ongoing, willful erasure of African American lives from the history of the United States.