Slavery, Prisons, and State Violence: Evan Bissell’s The Knotted Line
The Knotted Line, created by artist and educator Evan Bissell, explores incarceration in the United States. The historical sweep is broad–1492 to 2025–and the audience ranges from, according to the website, middle school to college to community groups. The project asks, “how is freedom measured:”
“The Knotted Line is an interactive, tactile laboratory for exploring the historical relationship between freedom and confinement in the geographic area of the United States. With miniature paintings of over 50 historical moments from 1495-2025, The Knotted Line asks: how is freedom measured? Just as importantly, The Knotted Line imagines a new world through the work of grassroots movements for self-determination.”
The Knotted Line is a Scalar project and uses “paths” to direct users through multiple and contingent histories of confinement and activism. In his historical narrative, Bissell intertwines histories of state violence against black, Latin@, and Native people, and centers grassroots organizations like Incite, Young Women’s Empowerment Project, and the Interrupters.
The project has been live for some time. Anyone planning courses on histories of slavery, prison industrial complex, or state violence should take another look. In 2012 a review at the Vectors Blog, Tara McPherson writes:
“Each painting of The Knotted Line is annotated with brief glosses which introduce the historical event it depicts, and then link to an expanded treatment of the event in Scalar’s native reading interface, featuring embedded videos, images, and resources for educators. The complete timeline, which focuses on the geographical area of the United States, covers over 500 years of history, including some hopeful speculation about future events.”
I find the aesthetics of the interface interesting; the decision to use black and white silhouettes reminds me of Kara Walker’s work. And that the timeline must be “pushed, pulled, and opened” to reveal Bissell’s colorful paintings beneath puts a practice of consent, access, power, and admission in the hands of the user.
If anyone has stories to share about how the Knotted Line is being used, please pass them along.
Read more: The Knotted Line http://bit.ly/16XbPcE
Image Credit: The Knotted Line, screenshot, taken 4-14-2013
Tagged: digital technology, games, prison, reading, slavery, state violence
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AfroPeruvian activist Rocio Muñoz on Django Unchained [Spanish]
AfroPeruvian activist, Rocio Muñoz describes racist imagery in Peruvian media (El Negro Mama, La Paisana Jacinta) in the context of her reaction to ‘Django Unchained:”
“It was degrading to me. I recognized myself in that history. Although I didn’t live it, although I didn’t feel it, I know that history. Because when I look at that woman he went to find, I’m looking at myself.”
(H/T AfroLatin@ Forum)
Tagged: django unchained, history, latinegr@s, media, slavery
Read the post: http://bit.ly/10v9x0Z
Launched: Legacies of British Slave-ownership
Last Wednesday was the launch of Legacies of British Slave-ownership, an online database of British Caribbean slaveowners at the moment of emancipation:
“On Wednesday 27th February 2013, Catherine Hall will give a public lecture entitled ‘Towards a new past: the legacies of British Slave-ownership’ to celebrate the publication of this Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership and the inauguration of our new project, The Structure and Significance of British Caribbean Slave-ownership, 1763-1833, funded by the ESRC and the AHRC. The event will be followed by a demonstration of the Encyclopaedia by Nick Draper and Keith McClelland…
…At the core of the completed project is this online Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership containing information about every slave-owner in the British Caribbean, Mauritius or the Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833. Entries include information about the activities, affiliations and legacies of these men and women, with a particular emphasis on the “absentee” owners based in Britain.
The records of the Slave Compensation Commission, set up to manage the distribution of the £20 million compensation, provide a more or less complete census of slave-ownership in the British Empire in the 1830s. The individuals named in these records form the starting point of the Encyclopaedia.”
Image Credit: The project logo or ‘Slave Emancipation; Or, John Bull Gulled Out Of Twenty Millions.’ From the website: “The print was from a woodcut printed and published by G. Drake, 12 Houghton Street, Clare Market, London. The copy above is from the UCL Art Collection, UCL, EPC8032. We are very grateful to the collection for permission to reproduce it here.” More details on the logo and use of the cartoon by the project here.
Tagged: caribbean, database, digital humanities, emancipation, slavery, tools
Read the post: http://bit.ly/105zlR2
Launched: Lincoln Logarithms at Emory DiSC
Out of Emory DiSC, Lincoln Logarithms: Finding Meaning in Sermons adds texture, clouds, and maps to the literary afterlife of the ‘Great Emancipator:’
“….Nearly 150 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln’s presence in American culture still looms large. Lincoln’s bicentennial in 2009 generated scores of publications, debates, commemorative celebrations, and a federal commission. Current President Barack Obama is fond of quoting Lincoln in his speeches. Most recently, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation coincided with the release of Steven Spielberg’s biopic “Lincoln,” which earned $173 million in 2012 and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
Lincoln has become an everyman, called upon to represent freedom, equality, compromise, tenacity, and humanness. As historian Eric Foner has noted, political figures “from conservatives to communists, civil rights activists to segregationists, have claimed him as their own.” This project explores some of the earliest interpretations of the late President’s legacy using 57 sermons that were given after Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865….
The project uses four popular digital tools–
“…We explored the power and possibility of four digital tools—MALLET, Voyant, Paper Machines, and Viewshare. MALLET, Paper Machines, and Voyant all examine text. They show how words are arranged in texts, their frequency, and their proximity. Voyant and Paper Machines also allow users to make visualizations of word patterns. Viewshare allows users to create timelines, maps, and charts of bodies of material. In this project, we wanted to experiment with understanding what these tools, which are in part created to reveal, could and could not show us in a small, but rich corpus. What we have produced is an exploration of the possibilities and the constraints of these tools as applied to this collection….”
“We unveiled our work Friday, February 22, 2013 in anticipation of the Academy Awards on Sunday, where the film Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, was up for twelve awards. However, this work seems even more timely given the unfortunate comments made by Emory President James Wagner, regarding the Three-Fifths Compromise, further illuminating the need for a continued engagement with the past and illuminating the possibilities digital tools provide for a robust engagement.”
Tagged: abraham lincoln, clouds, digital tools, slavery, text mapping
Read the post: http://bit.ly/Z1hifO
Emory University x 3/5ths (#Footnotes)
Click here for a bit.ly bundle of links related to President James Wagner’s essay in the Winter 2013 Emory Magazine on the 3/5ths compromise as “pragmatic.”
Suggestions welcome; leave in the comments or @ me on Twitter)
Image Credit: Screenshot of CSPAN converage of the 2011 Slavery and the University Conference at Emory University. Pictured here: President James Wagner with historian and President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (then Emory University Provost) Earl Lewis (via CSPAN)
Tagged: bundles, emory university, history, slavery
Read the post: http://bit.ly/YoyDen