Experts from U.S. and abroad will gather in Newport to explore value in preserving sites with “difficult histories”

Salve Regina University hosts 19th annual Cultural and Historic Preservation Conference – Preservation and Memory – October 18-19

Modern-day preservationists from around the world and the U.S. will address the important work of safeguarding historic structures and objects, even when they shine light on a problematic past, at Salve Regina University’s 19th Conference on Cultural and Historic Preservation – Preservation and Memory – October 18-19, 2019.

The conference welcomes nearly two dozen preservation experts to Salve’s historic seaside campus for two days of presentations (and three interactive, guided tours) focusing on a range of topics. Whether it is preserving the original homes of slave owners or the monuments erected in their honor, resurrecting the displaced cultures of marginalized people, memorializing the Holocaust, or adapting an old prison or psychiatric ward into a new use, today’s preservationist movement is often swept into a socio-political debate amidst efforts to protect historically significant environments.

Buildings and monuments of historic significance but also with “difficult histories” have the inherent right to exist and to be preserved, argues Dr. Melinda Milligan, a sociology professor at Sonoma State University who will present the conference’s keynote address. Doing so, Milligan says, provides a means both to defuse critics over preserving buildings with difficult histories and to justify preserving as much of the historic built environment as possible.

Preserving Difficult History

“I am both passionate and critical of preservation,” says TK Smith, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund research fellow for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in a press release. “I believe it has the power to both retain and erase culture, histories, and people.” Smith will present a talk on “Displacement, Cultural Retention and Historical Preservation” at the conference.

Laura Macaluso, a Salve Regina Ph.D. recipient who authored “A Guide to Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia” and edits “Monument Culture: International Perspectives on the Future of Monuments in a Changing World,” will discuss how monument preservation is influenced by history turning into revisionist history.

“People will say, ‘well, monuments aren’t the history, they’re the revision of history, so that’s why we can remove them, because they’re not the actual history or the actual person,’” Macaluso says in the release. “It’s difficult and complex.”

Presentations Include:

  • “Holocaust Memorialization and Preservation in Postwar France,” presented by Ashley Valanzola, Ph.D. candidate at George Washington University who has authored “Survival and Sacrifice: Eastern European Jewish Women in France (1939-1942)” and “Material Culture and Memory: Objects from the Holocaust in Poland.”
  • “Regenerating and Remembering: Exploring the Adaptive Reuse of Institutional Sites with Problematic Histories,” presented by Dina Posner of the Palisades Parks Conservancy in New York and New Jersey.
  • “Finding Freemantown: Uncovering the History of an African American Settlement in Rome, Georgia,” presented by Jennifer Dickey, professor and Public History Program coordinator at Kennesaw State University.

Visit full agenda to see additional presentations.

The Conference on Cultural and Historic Preservation is presented by The Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation program at Salve Regina, with support from the Southeastern New England Education and Charitable Foundation. For more information or to register for attendance, visit: www.preservationandmemory.org.

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