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Conference on Interpreting and Representing Slavery

The University of Virginia and Monticello


 Monday, March 19, 2018 - 8:30am to Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 4:00pm


Join us for a three-day conference on Interpreting and Representing Slavery and its Legacies in Museums and Sites: International Perspectives at the University of Virginia and at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, March 19-21.


Museums and sites around the Atlantic World have developed a variety of approaches to represent the history and legacies of the slave trade, slavery, and emancipation.  Exhibitions, digital media, commemorations, monuments, educational materials, and works of visual and performing arts have made visible in popular memory and landscapes the ubiquity of slavery and its effects throughout America, Africa, and even Europe. Interpretation has varied greatly over recent decades, and continues to vary regionally as communities grapple with the tension between history and memory. Identifying resonant approaches to communicate this shared history – portraying the horrors of slavery as well as the feelings, thoughts, resistance, creativity and resilience of enslaved peoples – remains a challenge.  The three-day professional conference will explore the variety of approaches used at museums and sites around the Atlantic world to represent the history and legacies of the slave trade, slavery and emancipation. With experts from South Africa, the Netherlands, France and more, the conference on UVA’s Grounds will be the first international symposium of its kind hosted in North America.


The conference will include two public components: The public is invited to come to the Scholar’s Lab in Alderman Library from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday March 20 to explore and experience a range of new digital tools interpreting sites of slavery, including a virtual reality experience.  Also offered is a free public forum, Addressing the Legacy of Slavery in Public Policies and Spaces: International Perspectives, to be held on March 21, 11:00 A.M. -1:00 P.M. at the Jefferson School African American Heritage CenterThe program will focus on decision-making, challenges and design outcomes for memorials to the enslaved and commemorations at sites of enslavement and abolition, and include time for questions and reflections from the audience.


The conference is sponsored by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia, and the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) in collaboration with the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route ProjectResistance, Liberty, and Heritage