1620/2020 Speaker Series Begins with “Politics of Memory and Commemoration”

Devyn Forcina ’22

News Editor

The 1620/2020 Speaker Series began on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. This specific event, “Politics of Memory and Commemoration: Columbus Statues and Beyond,” facilitated conversations about narrative-building monuments and “the discourse of disappearing Indians” in the words of Senior Lecturer Thomas Doughton. 

The speakers on Wednesday included Morgan Freeman, a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Yale University, and Thomas Doughton, Senior Lecturer in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Holy Cross. The event was moderated by Sarah Luria, Professor of English and Environmental Studies at College of the Holy Cross. 

Graphic by Hui Li ’21. Images Courtesy of the McFarland Center and Canva’s Stock Images.

The 1620/2020 Speaker Series is co-sponsored by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture. The series explores the connection between the historic Mayflower landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the year 1620, and contemporary issues occurring in our present. Furthermore, the discussions focus on the relationship between Native Americans and Europeans in the making of New England, and how this relationship has developed ever since 1620.

The series will feature numerous guest speakers in upcoming events such as “Wamponoag Life Before the Pilgrims”, and “Massosoit’s Meanings: Shifting Histories of Settler Colonialism”. The series will conclude with the premiere of the film “Pakachoag: Where the River Ends” which documents historic sites around the Holy Cross campus. 

Wednesday’s event predominantly focused on the power of art in politics and memory. Recently, many statues of Christopher Columbus have been destroyed or removed due to the problematic nature of his celebration. This same phenomenon occurred over the summer in Holy Cross’s city of Worcester, MA, to the statue of Christopher Columbus outside of Union Station. 

The lecture topics ranged from statues of Christopher Columbus to the artistic representations of “cigar-store Indians” or “Indians as landscape paintings” in the words of one of the speakers. In later discussion, the speakers questioned the western tradition of preservation in museums, and explained how this tradition builds narratives throughout history.

If you missed the first event in the 1620/2020 Lecture series, you can still register for the three upcoming events here. This year marks the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower landing and this series provides an opportunity for appropriate and insightful discussion in regards to this anniversary.

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