This two-and-a-half-day symposium in April 2023 at the Huntington Library will articulate new pathways forward in American material cultures, broadly defined in terms of subject matter, hemispheric geography, and time period (from roughly 1500–1860). We invite holistic thinking about existing fault lines in object study and the generative spaces around issues of power, absence, representation, labor, hybridity, and materiality. Recognizing that “early” America itself has been contested in productive ways, we ask what work “early” American objects can help effect along the lines of contemporary visual sovereignty as well as cultural preservation and knowledge production.
As critical reckonings with the enduring legacies of white supremacy and settler colonialism that shaped early America continue to impact communities today, we seek to create a space for creative learning to investigate: How do we do this work? How do we interpret this work with and for multiple publics? How can we better engage younger community members and college students with materials collected by museums? What through-lines can museums elucidate between historical materials and contemporary Indigenous and African American artists and knowledge keepers?
Symposium participants can engage with the Huntington’s Fielding Collection of Early American Art as a resource and point of departure, but talks do not have to respond directly to works in the collection.
We invite proposals for 20–30 minute papers addressing these themes from people in many fields, including but not limited to African Diaspora, Archaeology, Art History, History, Indigenous Studies, Material Culture, and Museum Studies. Cross-disciplinary and comparative studies are also welcome.
The deadline for proposals is May 15, 2022.
To submit, please email abstracts of no more than 200 words, along with a short (2 page) CV, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel and accommodations will be provided for speakers arriving from outside the Los Angeles area, and meals will be provided for all.
Graduate Student Attendee Travel Grants
Graduate students outside the Los Angeles area who want to attend the conference are welcome to apply for grants to cover travel and lodging. To be considered, email email@example.com a 300-word statement detailing your research interests and outlining how attending the conference will further your scholarly or career development, along with a short (2 page) CV by May 15, 2022.