Memory in Black and White

Race, Commemoration, and the Post-Bellum Landscape

By (author) Paul A. Shackel Foreword by Dwight T. Pitcaithley

Publication date:

22 February 2003

Length of book:

272 pages


AltaMira Press

ISBN-13: 9780759102620

As a nation we bring many perspectives to our commemorative places and our ideas may change over time, especially on difficult topics like slavery and racism. Why a place is saved and how it is interpreted to visitors has much to do with our collective memory of the events that took place there. Using the skills of an archaeologist and a historian, Paul Shackel examines four well-known Civil War-era National Park sites and shows us how public memory shaped their creation and continues to shape their interpretation. Shackel shows us that 'public memory' is really 'public memories,' and interpretation may change dramatically from one generation to another as interpreters try to accommodate, or ignore, certain memories. Memory in Black and White is important reading for all who are interested in history and memory of landscapes, and will be especially useful to those involved in preserving and interpreting a controversial place. Visit the author's web page Visit the UMD Heritage Program web page
In this book, Paul Shackel accurately observes, 'Public memory is more a reflection of present political and social relations than a true reconstruction of the past.' Arguments over history today reflect deeply felt emotions about who we are as a society,who we have been, and where we think we should be headed. In an effort to parse out the inherent conflicts that have arisen over the remembering of history, Professor Paul Shackel focuses on the all important issue of race, and reminds us how race and racism have affected and continue to affect the popular presentation of the past and especially of the American Civil War. Memory in Black and White serves as a strong reminder of how ideas about race have influenced the preservation of places in the past and how it can affect, in both positive and negative ways, the interpretation of historic sites today. It is an important message for all of us who visit historic places, who are curious about the presentation of the past at historic sites and monuments, and who study the past/present dynamic in classrooms and public spaces. The case study approach taken here allows a detailed look at specific places where race and perceptions of race played a role in preserving and interpreting the past. By under