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Crane, Susan A.. Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography
2008, History and Theory 47: 309-30.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes
Summary: In this article, Crane, a historian, questions whether Holocaust atrocity photographs should be displayed, arguing that displaying them is not the best means of historical education about the horrors of the Holocaust, as some defenders argue. Her discussion includes reflections on the nature of photography, spectacle, how we look at images, and pedagogy surrounding historical injustices.

Comment: This text offers an opportunity to discuss the display of "negative heritage," and so offers a different angle than many of the articles on heritage which focus on appropriative display of more traditionally conceived heritage objects. The article also raises issues which can inspire discussion on moral criticism of art.

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Hartman, Saidiya. Venus in Two Acts
2008, Small Axe, 12 (2): 1–14
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: This essay examines the ubiquitous presence of Venus in the archive of Atlantic slavery and wrestles with the impossibility of discovering anything about her that hasn't already been stated. As an emblematic figure of the enslaved woman in the Atlantic world, Venus makes plain the convergence of terror and pleasure in the libidinal economy of slavery and, as well, the intimacy of history with the scandal and excess of literature. In writing at the limit of the unspeakable and the unknown, the essay mimes the violence of the archive and attempts to redress it by describing as fully as possible the conditions that determine the appearance of Venus and that dictate her silence.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Content warning: very explicit details of cruelties of slavery, sexual assault. In this seminal black feminist theory text, the Foucauldian scholar Saidiya Hartman considers the “archive” which is what she terms the collection of historical evidence that one writes about the past with. She reckons with the difficulty and ethics of writing about past figures and people who were subject to immense violence, degradation and oppression, since often the only records left of their existence are those written or approved by their oppressors or people who were complict in their oppression, and those records are often at best only caricatures of the person they pretend to represent.

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Radin, Joanna. Digital Natives’: How Medical and Indigenous Histories Matter for Big Data
2017, Data Histories, 32 (1): 43-64
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: This case considers the politics of reuse in the realm of “Big Data.” It focuses on the history of a particular collection of data, extracted and digitized from patient records made in the course of a longitudinal epidemiological study involving Indigenous members of the Gila River Indian Community Reservation in the American Southwest. The creation and circulation of the Pima Indian Diabetes Dataset (PIDD) demonstrates the value of medical and Indigenous histories to the study of Big Data. By adapting the concept of the “digital native” itself for reuse, I argue that the history of the PIDD reveals how data becomes alienated from persons even as it reproduces complex social realities of the circumstances of its origin. In doing so, this history highlights otherwise obscured matters of ethics and politics that are relevant to communities who identify as Indigenous as well as those who do not.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this 2017 paper, historian Joanna Radin explores how reusing big data can contribute to the continued subjugation of Akimel O’odham, who live in the southewestern region of the US, otherwise known as the "Pima". This reading also illustrates how data can, over time, become used for what it was never intended or collected for. Radin emphasizes the dangers of forgetting that data represent human beings.

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