NEPH Spring Symposium 2023

Columbia University and Bard Graduate Center

April 20, 2023

Site Visits (expanded descriptions below)

All Thursday evening events at Bard Graduate Center (38 W. 86th St.)

Exhibition Tours and Reception

Public Humanities and Curatorial Practice Roundtable


April 21, 2023

All Friday events at Columbia Interchurch Center, 1st Floor Sockman Lounge, unless noted



Institution Lightning Talks

Coffee Break

Graduate Student Lightning Talks

Boxed Lunch (optional)

Expanding the Conversation: Public Humanities Projects-in-Progress

- I See My Light Shining

- Medical Humanities

- Zip Code Memory Project

Coffee Break

Breakout Conversations

- Ethical and Sustainable Community Partnerships

- Models for Oral History and Public Memory

- Institutional Support for Public Humanities

- Art as Care, Social Practice and Public Art

- Public Humanities and Material Culture

Happy Hour, Arts and Crafts Bar (1135 Amsterdam Ave)

Dinner Reception, Faculty House (64 Morningside Dr)

April 22, 2023

Public Humanities Training Workshops, Columbia University (details below)

- In Search of a Tunnel: Researching the Underground Railroad in Upstate New York

- Listening for Embodied Knowledge

- Podcasting With Zora's Daughters

- Practicing Connection IRL // rooted sharing, listening, and making

Object Study Workshop: Learning from Things, Bard Graduate Center

This symposium is supported by a grant from Columbia University Seminars

Program Details

Site Visits – Thursday Apr 20

All Site Visits take place Thursday April 20 at 2:00 – 4:00pm

Interference Archive and the Lesbian Herstory Archives
This site visit will take participants to two pioneering community-based archives in Brooklyn, the Interference Archive and the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Participants will hear from volunteers about how these archives–both intentionally separate from libraries and universities–function, and have time to peruse the collections.

New-York Historical Society
A tour of Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw at the New-York Historical Society with Margi Hofer, Co-curator and Vice-President and Museum Director, followed by a visit to the Center for Women’s History with Anna Danziger Halperin, the Center’s Associate Director.

Northwest Coast Hall, American Museum of Natural History
Tour of the recently re-installed Pacific Northwest Coast Hall featuring new exhibits developed with consulting curators from the Coast Salish, Gitxsan, Haida, Haíltzaqv, Kwakwakaw’akw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nuxalk, Tlingit, and Tsimshian communities. Tour guide Aaron Glass, Associate Professor at Bard Graduate Center, is an anthropologist who focuses on First Nations visual art and material culture, media, and performance on the Northwest Coast of North America.

Seneca Village, Central Park
A walking tour of the site of Seneca Village, a community founded by African Americans in 1825 and destroyed by the City of New York in 1857 for the construction of Central Park. The tour will include a discussion of the history of the village and the archaeological project as well as new information about villagers’ lives revealed by the material remains. Tour guide Meredith Linn is a historical archaeologist at Bard Graduate Center and co-author of the site report of the 2011 excavations in the village.


Panel Discussion and Break-outs – Friday Apr 21

Expanding the Conversation: Public Humanities Projects-in-Progress

2:00-3:30pm, Sockman Lounge (Interchurch Center 1st Floor)

A panel presentation featuring updates from three multifaceted Public Humanities initiatives. As dynamic collaborations between academic institutions and civic organizations that bring together scholars, practitioners, and the public, these projects experiment with new approaches to community engagement and participatory knowledge-making to explore issues where public and humanistic concerns intersect.

I See My Light Shining: Oral Histories of Our Elders seeks to create an expansive archive of oral history interviews with people in targeted geographies across the United States, including New York City, the Deep South, the Greenwood District in Tulsa, and Native American reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, in an effort to capture unrecorded memories and life experiences before these stories are lost to history. From aging Civil Rights activists to Native American tribal leaders, those who are interviewed will also have the opportunity to have their family archives preserved, photographs, letters, and additional ephemera, preserving a vast array of histories to allow future generations to learn lessons from our times.

– Madeline Alexander is a public historian and Project Manager for the I See My Light Shining: An Oral History of our Elders project. Prior to joining INCITE in 2022, she spent time at the Colorado State Museum: History Colorado, as an Engagement Coordinator for Black Communities. As a freelance public historian, Madeline has worked on a variety of projects, including Rural Arts Center (UK) history education program in 2021 and as a Co-creator/Historical Consultant for a Isle of Mine, a documentary short that won second place in the Oolite Arts Center Documentary Short proposal 2019.

– Mary Marshall Clark is the Director of the Columbia University Center for Oral History Research in INCITE and the co-founding director of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) degree program. She was the co-principal investigator (with Peter Bearman) of The September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project. Currently, Mary Marshall is a co-principal investigator and interviewer on the Obama Presidency Oral History Project.


The Zip Code Memory Project seeks to find community-based ways to memorialize the devastating losses resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic while also acknowledging its radically differential effects on Upper New York City neighborhoods. Through a series of art-based workshops, public events, social media platforms, and a performance/exhibition at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, community members re-imagine Zip Codes not as zones of separation, but as interrelated spaces for connectivity and mutual care.

– Nancy Ko is a scholar of race, capital, and migration working at the intersection of Jewish and Middle East Studies. A Ph.D. student in the Department of History at Columbia University, her present research traces the consequences of the emergence of Sephardic identity politics in the global Middle East. Nancy is a recipient of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. She can be heard in conversation with recent authors in History and Critical Theory over at the New Books Network.

– Leah Kogen-Elimeliah is a poet, essayist, short story and nonfiction writer from Moscow, currently living in New York City. She is an MFA candidate at City College of New York, is the Founder and Director of WordShedNYC Reading Series and an Editorial Associate for Fiction literary magazine. Leah has collaborated on various art/poetry projects with Benjamin Briones Ballet Company, independent choreographers and dancers as well as videographers experimenting with multimedia and poetry. Her writing focuses on immigration, identity, language, sexuality and culture.

– Lee Xie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at New York University. She holds a B.A. in Spanish (high honors) and Journalism (double major) from New York University. She works at the intersections of diaspora studies and feminist aesthetics: her dissertation considers how Chinese diasporas are remembered in contemporary feminist aesthetic practices in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is a grant awardee and lab member of the 2021-2 Cross/Currents H-Lab, funded by the NYU Center for the Humanities.


The Health and Medical Humanities Initiative provides an ongoing forum to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society and work towards the establishment of a set of humanistic competencies that can inform medical practice. Seeking to foster conversations between medical practitioners, scholars, and patients on the diverse experiences of bodies in different stages of health and disease, MedHum builds upon and revises earlier notions of the ‘medical arts’ to explore new interdisciplinary frameworks for medical and humanistic ways of knowing.

– Rishi Goyal is Director of the Medicine, Literature and Society major at ICLS. Dr. Goyal’s research, writing and teaching focuses on the reciprocal transformations that result when new ideas about health, disease and the body find forms of expression in fiction and memoirs.

– Arden Hegele specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and the medical and health humanities. She is interested in the intersection of medical knowledge with formalist and historicist literary approaches. At Columbia, Hegele has taught in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, in the Medical Humanities major at Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She is a co-founding editor (with Dr. Rishi Goyal) of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal.

– Helen Zhao is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Columbia University, specializing in the philosophy of science and medicine. As the inaugural Graduate Fellow in Medical Humanities, she was the Network Administrator for the CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network. She is an SoF/Heyman Public Humanities Fellow, and a member of the Motherhood and Technology Working Group and the Harvard GenderSci Lab. Her public humanities project, Birthing Publics: Supporting Maternal-Neonatal Health, aims to bring together pregnant mothers enrolled in New York City’s first guaranteed income program, clinicians at NYP/CUIMC’s Mothers Center, maternal-fetal effects scientists, and medical humanities scholars to critically discuss the needs of expecting parents from under-resourced NYC neighborhoods.


Break-out Conversations 2:00-3:30pm

Ethical and Sustainable Community Partnerships
– Facilitated by Emily Bloom

Models for Oral History and Public Memory
– Facilitated by Bridget Bartolini and Joseph Plaster

Art as Care, Social Practice and Public Art
– Facilitated by Nyssa Chow

Building Institution Support for Public Humanities
– Facilitated by Rachel Bernard and Stacy Hartmann

Public Humanities and Material Culture
– Facilitated by Catherine Whalen and Meredith Linn


Public Humanities Training Workshops – Saturday Apr 22

All workshops take place Saturday April 22 at 10am – 12pm

See Eventbrite pages for registration and additional details.


In Search of a Tunnel: Researching the Underground Railroad in Upstate New York (Columbia Heyman Center)

How do we research the underground railroad when evidence of its civil disobedience was frequently and deliberately hidden? In this workshop, we’ll examine the collective work of academic researchers and community partners to furnish and exhibit evidence of underground railroad activities in Central and Western New York. Of the two approaches that inform the Cornell-Ithaca Underground Railroad Research Project, an archaeological excavation and critical fabulation, the workshop will concentrate on the writing, discussion, and showcasing of fictional approaches to experiences of traveling on the underground road.

Gerard Aching is W.E.B. DuBois Professor in the Humanities and professor of Africana and Romance Studies at Cornell University. He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century Caribbean literatures and intellectual histories, theories of modernism and modernity in Latin America, and relations of literature, philosophy, and slavery in Plantation America.


Listening for Embodied Knowledge: An Approach to the Oral History Interview (Columbia International Affairs Bldg)

What does it mean to have BIPOC voices at the center of our practice—what are we inviting them to speak on, or claim authority over? We know that oral history has the ability to document the experiences of BIPOC life, but can our approach to the interview go beyond the chronicling of what has happened to them? Can we also prioritize and harness oral history’s potential to record, elevate, and assert ‘ways of being’ and ‘ways of knowing’ our shared world that have been historically delegitimized and overlooked? Our embodied experiences are also our particular expertise on the world. The reality of BIPOC life becomes a particular education, one that shapes unique strategies of surviving and thriving; of sense-making; ways of seeing, interpreting, and “reading” the moments, politics, and interactions of daily life—it is embodied knowledge, embodied authority. How can our practice better ‘hear’ and legitimize embodied knowledge(s)? In this workshop we will consider the oral history interview as an ‘act of translation’, an approach that permissions the narrator to be both the ‘teller’ of their story, and also the first interpreter of their lived experience. We will discuss forms of un-hearing that can interrupt this process; reflect on the making and un-making of agency and authority in the interview by introducing both the language and concept of permission; and consider the oral history encounter as a ‘space of remembering’ and translation.

Nyssa Chow is an oral historian, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is an Assistant Professor in the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS) and Film and Media department at Skidmore College where she teaches interdisciplinary documentary arts.


Scholarly Podcasting with Zora’s Daughters (Columbia Heyman Center)

Zora’s Daughters is a society and culture podcast that uses Black feminist anthropology to close read popular culture and model critical participant observation of the world we live in. In this workshop, Alyssa James and Brendane Tynes, the duo behind the award-winning podcast, will guide participants through the process of creating a public-facing podcast that speaks to and emerges from research. Workshop participants will engage in a series of questions and activities designed to help them think obliquely about their scholarly interests and develop their ideas into a compelling and widely accessible creative project. The workshop will cover essential topics such as: finding your ‘why’; identifying your audience; developing a topic; and creating a public presence.

Alyssa A. James is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, a 2020 SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, and co-host of the Black feminist anthropology podcast Zora’s Daughters. Her research examines the discourses that transform commodities into heritage as it unfolds through a nascent coffee revival project in Martinique.

Brendane Tynes is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is a 2018 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow whose research centers the affective experiences of Black people in the Movement for Black Lives. Her research stands at the intersections of affect theory, Anthropology, and Black Studies with a particular emphasis on Black feminist anthropological theory and praxis.


Practicing Connection IRL // rooted sharing, listening, and making (Columbia Heyman Center)

This workshop provides an introduction to some of the methods used in social practice art, an approach to artistic engagement that emphasizes the potential of art to support positive social change. In this workshop, we will engage in practicing ‘connection’ to create an experience of community and care through listening, sharing and making. We will perform a listening score, ‘this is a piece,’ that invites us to consider what we need as creative agents. We will then guide participants in making an artist book or zine, which are tools that social practice artists often use as jumping off points for dialogue, tools for celebration, and objects for collective reflection. Sharing, listening and making are methods that we use in our own practice and we hope that by working through these methods together, these tools may support the work that matters most to you.

Cristina Ferrigno is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Queens, NY. Cristina’s work explores identity and belonging, through lived experiences, photographs, zines, and an array of socially-engaged local and international projects. She currently serves as a teaching artist with the Queens Museum, The Mosaic Project, and Sunnyside Arts.

Floor Grootenhuis is a New York based Dutch-Kenyan artist currently in residence at the Raper Lab in the Hunter College Biology department and a fellow with Social Practice CUNY. Her contemporary and performative practice is focused on invitation, connection and identity and has been exhibited at Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Museum, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Five Myles Gallery, and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona.


Learning from Things: Object Study Workshop (Bard Graduate Center)

This workshop focuses on hands-on engagement with objects from the Bard Graduate Center Study Collection. Participants will explore a variety of methods to analyze, learn from, and teach about material culture.

Catherine Whalen is Associate Professor at Bard Graduate Center, where she specializes in American material culture studies. Her research interests include object-based cultural nationalism, history and theory of collecting, gender and sexuality studies, US craft and design history, oral history, digital humanities, and material culture studies methodology and historiography.

Meredith Linn is Assistant Professor at Bard Graduate Center. Her field is historical US historical archaeology, where she draws upon theories and methods from anthropology, history, and the natural sciences to investigate the development of the modern world through its physical traces. She is especially interested in how and what material objects can tell us about the lived experiences of people neglected or misrepresented in written record.