Initially in response to our walking tour of “Slavery in Lower Manhattan” and visit to the African Burial Ground, I started reflecting on projects like Black Gotham and their tour “The other side of wall Street”. Then I started to think about ways of how these walking tours may be able to translate their paths to multilayered interactive maps for those who may not be able to visit in person. Questions of how to present history in its many facets through the digital humanities, story telling tools like arcGis Storymaps of what was mentioned in the article “How to Use a Novel as a Guide Book”, but for the histories and narratives that have often been erased or go unheard.
This led me to things like the Hyper Cities project and the concept of thick mapping how tools that allow you to include location and footage to see how events may have unfolded over time, like the Day to Day mapping of Election protests in Tehran in 2009 using social media and protestor reports. Or seeing maps overtime of newyork overlaid . However the maps of NY made me reflect back to the initial starting point of our walking tour where we thanked the land and the indigenous people that it had been home to with Dalia before we went on our tour. Trying to find alternative maps lead me to find this map https://native-land.ca/about/. I found the teaching tools even more interesting?
Looking at who maps and how is a very colonial narrative. Who gets to say where a nation state begins or ends? Or a boundary of a tribe? Whom identifies land that should be held and preserved a sacred?
I thought this article from National Geographic was interesting too? “Amazon Tribes Use Mapping Technologies to Empower Cultural Stewardship of Ancestral Lands”
When looking at all of these things I came across the Irish Hunger Memorial, and I don’t think i knew it ? I knew threw letters that some of my family had come over during the Great Hunger, so called my dad before I went to find out if he knew exactly where. Our conversation reminded me how important it is to have physical spaces dedicated as memorials, whether its a fixed place, or something more fluid as a walking tour that stops along a fixed route. But to have something grounded in reality, and that we can gather around to reflect I think helps spark storytelling, and memory.
I think so many conversations and stories may not have been shared and remembered if it wasn’t for physical reminders. Which is why I think its so important that things like the well we stopped by on the “Slavery in Lower Manhattan” tour have been preserved. As well as just how essentially important it is to have the African Burial Ground be a national monument.
The email excerpt above is of a letter exchange between my dad and my great-grandmother, Myrtle Marie McFadden whose grandfather, born in County Cork, emigrated during the Great Hunger in the late 1840s. When he arrived to Philadelphia, he sent money to his family hoping to help them emigrate. Of the 3 brothers and 1 sister, only the sister Ann is recorded to have joined.
I really liked that the memorial incorporates over 60 types of native flora to Ireland, and that each of the 32 counties donated rocks with their county names inscribed. I also thought that the incorporation of the original cottage was really beautiful. Much like the walking tour we went on for class about “the other side of wall street” and the history of the African Burial Ground, that theses issues of slavery and hunger are not fixed to one time, but are present today. Both memorials offer the public spaces to process, heal and reflect on the past together in hopes of building a better future and a fuller understanding of voices unheard through history.
African Burial Ground National Monument