Reckonings Press Release
April 4, 2022

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Press Release for Northeastern University Planning Grant

"Reckonings: A Local History Platform for the Community-Archivist"

The Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 planning grant to Northeastern University for Reckonings, an innovative program of collaboration to empower BIPOC communities and citizens in the preservation, creation, and curation of community histories. This effort sees reckoning with and making the historical record more accurate. With an emphasis on digital and physical sustainability for Boston and New England, the Reckonings team of scholars will work with partner organizations and students to correct gaps and inequalities in the existing historical record, and assist communities to recover under-represented histories and cultures. Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, Dean's Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, and one of the principal investigators on the grant, emphasizes that collaboration between the university and cultural and social service organizations as well as museums will be crucial for this work of community co-creation and co-curation: "I'm excited about the Reckonings project because we have the incredible opportunity to expand our research on the histories of marginalized people in this region and we will be able to collaborate with students, community organizations, and other scholars."

Building on multifaceted and multi-media work in Boston and New England, the project will scale existing pilot initiatives into innovative and reusable frameworks for humanities research and learning beyond the spaces of the university. The intent is to find common ground within and across organizations (historical societies, museums, community centers, social service organizations, community colleges, and universities) and to make analog and digital tools accessible and usable for community-archivists. The project will promote six specific goals:

  • Creating a service model for the humanities that transforms aspects of scholarship and digital humanities work into replicable and easily adaptable methods that communities can use.
  • Democratizing archive-making and storytelling processes for communities, drawing on and transforming frameworks of knowledge production and dissemination in the humanities, and opening new opportunities for knowledge exchange.
  • Documenting, disseminating, and preserving the histories of BIPOC communities and other marginalized groups.
  • Co-curating and co-creating a readily accessible and portable series of analog and digital resources where communities share their local histories.
  • Training undergraduate, master's, and doctoral students in this work through classrooms, service-learning, and other experiential placements with partner organizations.
  • Developing equitable compensation models for community partners at the individual and institutional levels that properly reflect their contributions as co-creators and co-curators in both the planning and implementation phases.

Community and institutional partners on Reckonings at this time include:

We will build on lessons learned from two Mellon-funded projects – the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) and the Boston Research Center (BRC) – with which we are currently involved. Indeed, we envision Reckonings as working together with the BRC and CRRJ to expand the range of techniques neighborhoods and communities can use to recapture, reckon with, and re-represent the past in new ways.

Northeastern University collaborating faculty on Reckonings include Nicole Aljoe, Professor of English and Africana Studies; Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project; Regine Jean-Charles, Director of Africana Studies, Dean's Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Professor of Africana Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Liza Weinstein, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Sociology; and Alexandra To, Assistant Professor in the College of Art, Media, and Design (Games) and the Khoury College of Computer Science. Partnering also on Reckonings as a faculty collaborator is Dorothy Kim, Brandeis University Assistant Professor of English.

Northeastern's lead principal investigators on Reckonings are Uta Poiger, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and Professor of History; and Angel David Nieves, Director of Public Humanities, Director of the Public History Program, Professor of Africana Studies, History, Digital Humanities, and English. Kabria Baumgartner and Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, Dean of the Libraries, and Professor of History serve as principal investigators. Dean Cohen writes: "I'm thrilled about the intersection of the Reckonings initiative with existing efforts by the Northeastern University Library to work closely with local communities who wish to surface, preserve, and present their diverse histories and cultures. As a historian and librarian, I am looking forward to exploring with my colleagues, and with groups and individuals in the greater Boston area, the multiple ways that this project will forge new forms for that historical record, and press society to come to terms with the past."

Reckonings Project Team

Co-Principal Investigators

Uta Poiger

Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities; Professor of History

Uta G. Poiger is Dean of the College of Social Science and Humanities and Professor of History at Northeastern University. With the college’s faculty, staff and students, she works to enhance the college’s and the university’s leadership in Experiential Liberal Arts.

Ángel David Nieves

Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities; Director of Public Humanities

Ángel David Nieves is Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) at Northeastern University and is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of English and in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

Kabria Baumgartner

Dean's Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies

Kabria Baumgartner is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, specializing in the history of education, African American women’s and gender history, and the New England region.

Dan Cohen

Dean of Libraries; Vice Provost for Information Collaboration; Professor of History

Dan Cohen is the Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, Dean of the Libraries, and professor of history at Northeastern University. His work has focused on the impact of digital media and technology on all aspects of knowledge and learning, from the nature of libraries and their evolving resources, to twenty-first century research techniques and software tools, to the changing landscape of communication and publication.

Project Staff

Greg Lord

Assistant Director of Design & Program Manager

Greg Lord is a designer and developer with over 15 years of experience. His previous experience includes the University of Maryland's MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities), Hamilton College's Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), NASA, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), having served in roles as a graphic/web designer, software engineer, 3D modeler, and virtual reality developer.

Dzidzor Azaglo

Program Coordinator & Community Archivist

Dzidzor (Jee-Jaw) is a Ghanian-American folklore, performing artist, author, and curator. Dzidzor's style of call and response has combined traditional storytelling in Afro-folklore and Poetry Slam through a sonic experience. Dzidzor is moved by the responsibility to alarm the power/abundance in the midst of bodies while creating a practice of care and freedom through creativity. Dzidzor is the founder of Black Cotton Club and partners with Grubstreet, ICA Boston, and Boston Public Schools to teach creative empowerment workshops in Boston.

Born in Italy, to Ghanian Parents and raised in North Carolina. She's immersed herself in merging cultures from the South to Ghanian culture. Dzidzor has released a book of poems entitled, "For Girls Who Cry in Yellow" inspired by childhood experiences, healing, and womanhood. Dzidzor has been nominated twice, for a Boston Music Awards. Dzidzor released her debut EP entitled, "bush woman" on April 10th, 2020 and is currently working on songs that you can find on streaming services everywhere. Dzidzor's soundscape, 'Black Church Burning' is currently featured at the "I Am As I Am: A Man," by Napoleon Henderson-Jones at the ICA in Boston.

Research Assistants

Adam Tomasi

Research Assistant, Ph.D. History Student

Adam Tomasi is a second-year PhD student specializing in the trans-Atlantic Left in the twentieth century, with a special focus on the underground press and intellectual history.

Savita Maharaj

Research Assistant, English BA, Africana Studies & Writing Studies Minor

After graduating in 2022, Savita wants to go into the field of Black Studies as a high school teacher or a college professor and change the literary canon. She is passionate about literature, youth work, writing, and social justice and hopes to teach books by BIPOC authors.

Victoria Dey

Research Assistant, Ph.D in History

Victoria earned her B.A. in French and International Relations from the University of Rochester in 2021 and began the World History doctoral program at Northeastern University the following semester. Victoria’s research interests include the intentional modern manipulations of French memory during times of conflict that continue to influence race relations , identity, and other aspects of French society.

Rose-Laura Meus

Research Assistant, B.A. Candidate, International Affairs and History

Rose-Laura Meus is currently a B.A. Candidate in International Affairs and History at Northeastern University who is also pursuing an M.A. in World History

Hunter Moskowitz

Research Assistant, Ph.D. in History

I am a doctoral student in World History at Northeastern with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. My research interests include examining how workers have resisted, shaped, and mediated colonialism. I hope to understand how power operates in eighteenth and nineteenth century communities through studying the intersection between race, labor, and gender.  I am also currently a research assistant at the Worker Institute at Cornell University working on projects involving the role of labor unions in creating climate change policy.

Titilayo Odedele

Research Assistant, Sociology PhD Student

Titilayo Odedele is a graduate of Boston College, where she received her BA in Sociology, and Northeastern University, where she received her MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her research interests include the sociology of law, historical sociology, and the sociology of labor with a regional focus on the Black Atlantic.

Shavaun Sutton

Research Assistant, Sociology PhD Student

Shavaun Sutton is a second-year doctoral student. She holds a master’s in public health in Community Health Sciences from SUNY Downstate School of Public Health. She strives to promote equity via the analysis of nuanced narratives and lived experience. Seeking to amplify voices silenced by oppression and marginalization, Shavaun critically engaged with Black girl- and womanhood, state-sanctioned violence, and erasure as epistemic violence, particularly the erasure of Black narratives in white-majority spaces, through the lens of Black Feminist Thought.

Vanessa Torres

Research Assistant, Ph.D in History

Vanessa (She/Her/Ella) graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in Chicana/o/x-Latina/o/x Studies with a double minor in Latin American Studies and Literary Journalism in 2021. She was a part of the approx. top 2% in the Social Sciences recognized with the Order of Merit Award, Caesar D. Sereseres Outstanding Service Award, and Outstanding Chicano/Latino Community Engagement Award for her academic excellence, leadership activities, service contributions, and original research.

Reckonings Community and Institutional Partners

Reckonings and Co-Creation

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