Shevaun Watson, associate professor in UWM’s English department, has been selected to receive the 2022 Morris Fromkin Memorial Grant and Lecture, sponsored by the UWM Libraries.
Watson will present the 53rd annual Fromkin lecture on “The Comforts of Heritage: Tourism, Race, and Public Memory in Charleston, South Carolina” in fall 2022.
About her book project, she writes: “The Comforts of Heritage reveals the complex ways that racism and problematic notions about race in America are promulgated by the heritage tourism industry featuring the South, slavery and the Civil War. The book uncovers a range of consequences of this kind of heritage travel, from the gentrification of tourist areas, to the formation of what I call ‘racialized public memories,’ to the emotional comforts of heritage that continually obscure the historical antecedents of contemporary inequities and injustices.
“Charleston, South Carolina is the focus of my analysis because the story of ‘Historic Charleston,’ in terms of preservation and tourism, is inextricable from the history of race relations in the U.S. . . . . My book argues that the heritage we consume while on vacation directly impacts the public’s sense of shared history, or ‘public memory,’ about race and racism in America, making heritage tourism a social justice issue that demands deeper understanding as a cultural phenomenon.”
Established by Morris Fromkin’s family and supported by an endowment from Fromkin’s grandson, Daniel Soyer, the lecture series, which is dedicated to social justice, is the longest running lecture series on campus.
The 2022 Fromkin Research Grant selection committee included Rachel Baum, Anne Bonds, Rick Popp, Amanda Seligman, Max Yela, and Michael Doylen.