The Flower Petal Project

Below is a photo that I took of one of my favorite hobbies- drying flowers. I have always collected and dried/pressed flowers when a significant event in my life has taken place. These flowers are a physical representation to me of my memories, good or bad. By creating an activist project that focuses on claiming physical space in order to become visible with experiences of harm, I hope to draw on my own personal feelings on the importance of physicality with memory, erasure, forgetting, and healing.
Angela Motte

I am a firm believer in the importance of bringing to light erasure in history, especially if the group of people who are being silenced are oppressed by the mainstream culture. Tying together activism and history is a large part of why I plan to pursue history in other forms of higher education. I am a believer in restorative justice, and closure through group organization. One of the projects I am working on at Bryn Mawr is a new organization on campus- Students Against Sexual Harm (S.A.S.H.). Although this group is new, I have found that students have a deep connection to this topic. Whether students were themselves sexually harmed, or if someone knows of a student who has experienced harm, it is a difficult topic to navigate because of the content. I feel that because of this, students have not been given the space to bring to light experiences that they have had. As Bryn Mawr is a historically women’s college, our undergraduate experiences with sexual harm tend to be overlooked because it is assumed that ‘girls won’t do that,’ or that ‘those things only happen at co-educational schools.’ I want to combine a public history project with a healing experience for students who feel that they need a space of memory on campus. I feel that the public history project brings about real and significant change if it creates a voice for an underrepresented subject that is intrinsically influential to our student body.

This project relates to public history because it deals with memories of the community. My intended participants is the students of Bryn Mawr College, although the viewers would be the public at large. This project would trace the history of sexual harm on Bryn Mawr’s campus, dating back to The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), or earlier, depending on the cases. It would also address the history of sexual harm on campus, and the legislature that followed to protect students. I would additionally trace the specific actions that Bryn Mawr has taken to combat sexual harm.

I was inspired by the visual map of Philadelphia that Erin Bernard of “Philadelphia History Truck” showed to our class. The physical layout of the map was important to understanding the significance of spaces, and the relation that those spaces have to the memory of events, as well as the effect that spaces have on people’s memories. For my project proposal, I will recreate a physical map of places on Bryn Mawr’s campus where students have been sexually harmed, or other spaces that are significant to them that will allow the project to be of memory and healing. I would provide a large map of Bryn Mawr’s campus, and give students different numbered pushpins. Each pushpin would be inserted into the map, and the number would correlate to an anonymous story submitted to the project. A group of consenting students would come together to create the map, and then display it in the Campus Center. On the map, I would also provide a separate space where students who were harmed off campus could feel that they could place their pushpins, and still feel involved, because their experiences still influence their lives within Bryn Mawr. We would provide additional pushpins and paper once the map is installed, so onlookers would feel encouraged to add their own experiences. At the bottom of the map, I would include informational details for a public talk, which the community would be invited to. I would include anonymous resources for students to utilize. The public talk would be a space to talk about experiences, and to create a commemorative space where students feel that their experiences with harm are validated. My goal with this project would be to create a dialogue on campus that gives more visibility to the experiences of students who have been sexually harmed on campus. I will be discussing how these things are in conversation with other activism programs, such as “Take Back the Night” and “The Clothesline Project.” I intend to claim space in order to tell a story, while in turn, allowing students to become visible with their experiences.

Bibliography:

  1. Stevens, Quentin, and Karen A. Franck. Memorials as Spaces of Engagement: Design, Use and Meaning.
  2. Raphael, Jody. Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis. Chicago Review, 2013.
  3. Wooten, Sara Carrigan, and Roland Mitchell. The Crisis of Campus Sexual Violence: Critical Perspectives on Prevention and Response.
  4. “Annual Report.” Annual Report. Accessed April 01, 2016. http://www.brynmawr.edu/safety/act73.htm.
  5. Rosenhaj, Reem. “Re-reexamining Our Sexual Assault Investigative Process by Reem Rosenhaj.” Beyond the Green Collective of Middlebury Voices. 2016. Accessed April 01, 2016. https://beyondthegreenmidd.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/re-reexamining-our-sexual-assault-investigative-process-by-reem-rosenhaj/.
  6. “Common Speaking, April 1984, Volume 3 Number 3 :: Swarthmore Student Publications.” Common Speaking, April 1984, Volume 3 Number 3 :: Swarthmore Student Publications. Accessed April 01, 2016. http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/SC_StdtPubs/id/1166
  7. Erin Bernard. “A Shared Mobility: Community Curatorial Process and the Philadelphia Public History Truck,” in Exhibitionist (2015)
  8. Jen Jack Gieseking, “(Re)constructing women: scaled portrayals of privilege and gender norms on campus,” Area 3 (2007): 278-286.
  9. Re, Annie. Interview by Angela Motte. Unpublished Interview. Pensby Center. Date TBD.
  10. “Take Back the Archive; College Women : A Collaborative Cross-institutional Archives Portal; Connecting Users and IRs : Personal Archiving via Zotero.” UBC Library Open Collections. Accessed April 02, 2016. https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/55474/items/1.0220812.
  11. UVa Faculty, Students, Librarians, and Archivists. “Take Back the Archive.” Omeka RSS. Accessed April 02, 2016. http://takeback.scholarslab.org/.

 

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