53rd Annual Morris Fromkin Memorial Lecture Set for Oct. 27: The Comforts of Heritage — Race, Tourism, and Memory in the American South

image of slave mart museum

Shevaun Watson, associate professor in the UWM Department of English, presents the 53rd Annual Morris Fromkin Memorial Lecture on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 4 p.m. in the fourth floor Conference Center of the UWM Golda Meir Library.

The title of her talk is “The Comforts of Heritage: Race, Tourism, and Memory in the American South.”

Many Americans profess to learning a great deal about history and heritage through travel to sites of cultural significance. While tourism offers enjoyable encounters with history, these experiences can be problematic when that history involves uncomfortable truths about our shared past, especially in relation to slavery, the Civil War, and systemic racism. Heritage tourism of the American South, with its contested memorial landscapes, and its millions of visitors each year, draws our attention to the complex and unsuspecting ways that leisure travel shapes people’s understandings of race and racism in the United States.

photo of Shevaun Watson
Shevaun Watson

Watson’s research, which is focused on Charleston, South Carolina, explores how tourists are invited to remember the South and its role in history in strategic ways through the built environment, heritage displays, guided tours, and other tourist experiences. She finds that comfort—physical and psychological ease—functions as a powerful common denominator connecting tourism, heritage, race, and memory. Heritage tourism in the South is an especially salient lens for considering contemporary issues of antiracism and social justice because it compels us to ask how comfort can at once draw so many people into the fraught spaces of the historical roots of racial injustice, yet also undercut the collective will for social and political change.

Established by Morris Fromkin’s family and supported by an endowment from Fromkin’s grandson, Daniel Soyer, the lecture series, dedicated to social justice, is the longest running lecture series on campus.

The event is in-person and online. Registration is requested.

For more information about the lecture, email libspecial@uwm.edu or call 414-229-4345.