"Homemaking: Race, Place, and Ethnicity in the New England Household"
A one-day symposium sponsored by the Grace Slack McNeil Program for Studies in American Art at Wellesley College and Historic Deerfield, Inc.
Date: Saturday, March 4th, 2023
Location: Collins Cinema, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
This symposium will explore the visual and material cultures of race and ethnicity in New England’s domestic sphere, both rural and urban, from the time of European settlement to the present. Cultural and racial diversity have long characterized New England’s domestic environments. Enslaved and indentured Native American, Scottish, African, and African American people shared 17th- and 18th-century domestic spaces with enslavers. Subsequent waves of Irish, Italian, and other European immigrants lived and worked in 19th- and early 20th-century New England households as domestic servants. The accompanying development of racially and ethnically demarcated urban neighborhoods defined New England’s cities by the end of the 19th century. Mid-20th-century urban planning practices, including “redlining,” federal highway construction, and sweeping “urban renewal” projects dramatically impacted those physical, cultural, and economic boundaries.
We encourage papers that address domestic spaces, and the household arrangements they fostered, in all media and on any scale, from single family homes, rooming houses, and apartment buildings to public housing projects, residential urban neighborhoods, and suburban developments. What role has art, material culture, interior design, architecture, and urban planning played in constructing racial and ethnic hierarchies in the region? How have representations of New England’s domestic environments worked to normalize those hierarchies and in what ways did domestic workers navigate or challenge the status quo?
Papers should be theoretical or analytical in nature rather than descriptive and should be approximately 20 minutes long. All proposals will be peer-reviewed. Speakers will present on site at Wellesley College unless public health conditions necessitate a shift to a hybrid or fully virtual symposium. Speakers invited to present papers will receive overnight accommodation and are expected to participate fully in the symposium program.
Please submit via email a 250-word proposal and a two-page c.v. to Martha McNamara firstname.lastname@example.org and Barbara Mathews email@example.com. Proposals should include the title of the paper and the presenter's name. The deadline for submissions is December 10th, 2022.