Live Streaming--Conflict, Violence and Preservation: Interpreting difficult history

Karen Hudson's picture
March 31, 2017
Kentucky, United States

Annual Historic Preservation Symposium Addresses Conflict, Violence and Preservation

Can't make it to Lexington on March 31? Complete the short registration form and we will send you a free link to the live stream. 


LEXINGTON, Ky. (February 15, 2017) – When designers, planners, preservationists and others shape the landscape, they determine which pieces of the past will be allowed to tell their stories, and which will not. Sites strongly associated with violence, discrimination or tragedy represent a unique subset of historic sites; they tell stories that everyone in the present may not always want to hear.

Recognizing the need for honest interpretation and intentional dialogue about these sites, the Department of Historic Preservation in the College of Design at the University of Kentucky will address the subject in this year’s annual Historic Preservation Symposium – “Conflict, Violence and Preservation: Interpreting difficult history”– to be held March 31 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

“The event will explore the modern place of artifacts of the past that reflect a legacy of racial, religious, cultural or class-oriented conflict, and will ask whether we can learn the lessons these places offer if they are not present in the landscape,” said Doug Appler, assistant professor of Historic Preservation in the College of Design.

This year’s speakers include: Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of the Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the 10 U.S. centers where Japanese American citizens were forced into internment camps during World War II; Anne Thomas, coordinator of the Stolpersteine project that honors Holocaust victims throughout Europe; Sean Kelley, the director of interpretation at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which has become a platform for questioning policies of mass incarceration; and Sia Sanneh, senior attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative, discussing EJI's plans to build the Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala., to honor the victims of lynching in the United States.

The annual Historic Preservation Symposium welcomes you to engage with these speakers and discuss preservation’s role in continuing the conversation. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Doug Appler at



9 – 9:15 a.m. Opening comments | Dean Mitzi Vernon, Doug Appler

9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Sia Sanneh (Equal Justice Initiative)

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Anne Thomas (Stolpersteine Project)

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Morning Response Panel

12:15 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch | Emily Bergeron (Fundraising Lunch Speaker - Boone Center)

1:45 – 2:45 p.m. Bernadette Johnson (Manzanar National Historic Site)

2:45 – 3 p.m. Break

3 – 4 p.m. Sean Kelley (Eastern State Penitentiary)

4 – 4:45 p.m. Afternoon Response Panel

Historic Preservation Symposium 2017: Speaker Bios

Emily Bergeron | Preservation as Power: Incorporating Heritage in the Fight for Social and Environmental Justice at the Dakota Access Pipeline

The HP fundraising luncheon (12:15 – 1:45 p.m. at the Hilary J. Boone Center) will feature guest speaker Emily Bergeron. She attended the University of Florida and graduated with degrees in Business Administration and Law. After practicing corporate environmental defense and products liability law in Baltimore, she returned to the University of Florida to complete a master’s degree in Historic Preservation, where her research addressed programs creating affordable housing incorporating cultural heritage and community land trusts. Her doctoral studies at Cornell in City and Regional Planning with minors in Archaeology and Developmental Sociology focused primarily on bridging the gap in environmental policy, environmental justice and cultural resource protection, specifically in the context of Native American Studies. Bergeron, who is a member of the Maryland and Florida bars, maintains her connection to the legal profession as a member of the American Bar Association’s Sections of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Environment, Energy and Resources; and International Law.

Bernadette Johnson | Superintendent, Manzanar National Historic Site

Bernadette Johnson began her federal career by joining the National Park Service in 1990 and has served as the Superintendent for Manzanar National Historic Site since June 2014. She has had a life-long interest in social justice issues and believes that it is vital to teach about the importance of equality for all people. Manzanar has been entrusted for caring for the personal stories and experiences of many of the former incarcerees (more than 11,000 individuals that were incarcerated at Manzanar). The site provides a compelling venue for discussing the history of incarceration during World War II, contemplating injustice experienced by individuals and communities today and throughout history, and applying these lessons to the protection of constitutional and human rights.

Sean Kelley | Senior Vice President/Director of Interpretation, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Philadelphia

Sean Kelley has run all public programming at Eastern State Penitentiary since 1995, when he was hired as the organization’s first full-time employee. He produced the site’s award-winning audio tour in 2002, now heard by more than a million visitors. During his tenure he has overseen the selection of, and curated, more than 100 site-specific artist installations.

Kelley is currently focused on developing programming to address the enormous growth in the U.S. prison population since 1970, and the causes for racial disparities within that population. In 2014, he oversaw the development of a 16-foot, 1.5 ton bar graph on the penitentiary’s baseball diamond illustrating these trends. He also oversaw the development of a major companion exhibit, Prisons Today, Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

Kelley visits active prisons and writes critically about prison museums and sites of detention. He has served as adjunct faculty at Rutgers University, teaching Museum Studies in the graduate program in Public History.

Sia Sanneh | Attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama

Sia Sanneh is a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. Since 2008, she has been an attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., where she represents men and women sentenced to death, children incarcerated in adult prisons, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, and other indigent defendants denied effective representation, including those whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. From 2011 to 2013, Sanneh was the Senior Liman Fellow in Residence with the Liman Public Interest Program at Yale. She is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she served as student director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She also earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia.

Anne Thomas | International Coordinator, Stolpersteine

Anne Thomas is half-French and half-American, but grew up in the United Kingdom. She read European Studies with German and Russian at the University of Bath before earning a master’s in European Cultural Policy and Arts Administration at Warwick University. In 2006, she earned a doctorate in comparative literature. She moved to Bonn to work with Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle at the end of 2006 and started working with Gunter Demnig on his Stolpersteine project in 2008. She is now responsible for coordinating the artist's activities outside of Germany and for all inscriptions in languages other than German. She also works as a freelance journalist and translator from German, French and Russian into English.She lives in Berlin.

If you are planning to attend, please note that all four speakers have been approved through AIA for continuing education credits.

Article by: University of Kentucky College of Design

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Can't make it to Lexington on March 31? Complete the short registration form and we will send you a free link to the live streaming.

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