Nine graduate students from North Carolina State University attended the North Carolina Preservation Consortium Annual Conference held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on November 20, 2015. Sylvia Bailey, Katherine Bowers, Troy Burton, Nicole Coscolluela, Abigail Jones, Claire Kempa, Ethan Ley, and Hannah Scruggs of the graduate program in Public History all attended, along with Nicole Kelly of the Sociology and Anthropology Department and Assistant Professor Dr. Alicia McGill. Five of the graduate students won scholarships through the NC Preservation Consortium, which covered their registration. Most of the attending students were enrolled in Dr. McGill’s Fall 2015 section of Cultural Heritage (HI 594). The 2015 conference theme of Monuments and Memorials: Preserving, Protecting and Documenting Our Collective Memory offered rich connections to the students’ coursework and professional goals. Keynote speakers Jason Church from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training and Patricia Miller of the Preservation Society of Newport County, New York provided expert insight into the challenges of preserving historic stone and metal structures, monuments, memorials, art, and artifacts. The two lectures provided insight into the differing cultural and environmental challenges of preserving monuments and memorials in the South and the North. The afternoon speakers further enlivened the discussion of monuments and memorials with a wide range of professional experience in the preservation field. Kara Deadmon, head of Collections and Exhibitions for the North Carolina State Capitol, discussed the varied interactions and shifting perceptions of historic monuments. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Professor of History at UNC Chapel Hill, described the Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina digital archive and inventory of commemorative landscapes. Debbie Ivester, Assistant Director of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, provided a case study of the Vance Monument preservation from the point of view of a project manager. The final speaker was Laura Anderson, Museum Curator for the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. Her discussion of the moral challenges inherent in curating, preserving, and displaying objects of intense personal trauma and grief was a powerful conclusion to an invigorating day. These panels were directly relevant to the students’ shared Cultural Heritage class, as well as their other courses and personal research interests. In particular, the conference complicated ongoing discussions of the relationship between historical memory and contemporary politics, and subaltern identity. In addition to the academic enrichment provided by the conference, the students enjoyed meeting and speaking to the diverse group of heritage professionals and scholars who made up the conference’s panels and attendees.
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