The Material Culture of Racial Justice and Healthcare EquityUNCW Material Culture Logo

Jennifer Le Zotte (History), Jamie Brummit (Philosophy and Religion), Nathan Crowe (History), Stephanie Crowe (Randall Library), Michaela Howells (Anthropology), Angie Sardina (Recreation Therapy), Meghan Sweeney (English)

UNCW Material Culture is a campus-wide initiative designed to foster the study of material culture among faculty, students, and the Wilmington, NC community. Material culture studies is an interdisciplinary field and scholarly method that acknowledges the roles of objects in constituting and transforming societies.

Talk 1

"An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America" (September 28, 2021) with Dr. Courtney Thompson, Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University

Lunch & Learn 1

"What is Material Culture?" (October 15, 2021)

This networking and curriculm-building event will introduce UNCW faculty to material culture studies. We will explore definitions of and methods for engaging in material culture studies by considering the ways images of Black bodies have worked to construct race, racism, and anti-racism in the United States. We will also consider the ethics of employing images of Black bodies in research and the power of these images in scholarship, law, and popular culture.

Talk 2

"Cemeteries and Death Work as Social Activism" (November 5, 2021) with Dr. Kami Fletcher, Associate Professor of History at Albright College

Due to historically marginalized lives, African/African Americans position their burial places as tools of resistance, monuments of humanity and as ways to demonstrate citizenship and national memory. In this talk Dr. Fletcher will discuss the ways in which one autonomously African/African American burial ground was founded in 1807 to establish burial rights and uses this as an illustration in how those of the descendant community today position ancestral spaces to resist white supremacy.

Lunch & Learn 2

"Archiving Past Technologies" (November 19, 2021) with Nathan Saunders, Director of UNCW Randall Library’s Center for Southeast North Carolina Archives and History

The rate of technological change presents many challenges for modern researchers and archivists as the formats on which historical and cultural records are housed often become obsolete and inaccessible. The WWAY Television News Archive illustrates the time, resources, and skills required to make rapidly deteriorating audiovisual materials available to future generations of students and researchers. We will discuss some issues related to archives, materiality, and technology and explore the potential value of this collection for researchers across disciplines.

Lunch & Learn 3

"Studying Material Memory Across Disciplines" (February 4, 2022) with Dr. Angie Sardina, Assistant Professor of Recreation Therapy, and Dr. Jamie Brummit, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, at UNCW

This workshop provides an overview of some philosophical, religious, and social scientific theories on the relationships between memories and material objects. We will examine objects as memories in Enlightenment thought, in Protestant mourning practices, and for persons diagnosed with dementia. Join our discussion on the study of material memory as we explore its value for researchers across disciplines.

Talk 3

"Exploring the Material Culture of Contraception in the United States" (February 22, 2022) with Dr. Askley Navarro, MD, MPH

This talk provides an overview of contraception as it relates to use, mechanisms of action, and type as well as cost, access, reproductive education, choice, and disparities. Join us to learn more about the material culture of contraception, reproductive justice, and future directions in contraception.

The Sundial Gallery in Randall Library will host a physical exhibit, Controlling Birth: Contraception and the Politics of Public Health, from February 22-March 31. Virtual exhibit housed on UNCW History Hub.


"UNCW Material Culture Research Workshop" (May 18, 2022)

UNCW Material Culture invites proposals for participation in a one-day workshop to support research in material culture studies, to be held Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Truist Hall. Proposals are welcomed from all part-time or full-time faculty members from any department across the university whose work focuses on images, objects, artifacts, or other aspects of material culture. Individual or collaborative proposals welcomed from projects in any phase of development. Selected participants will receive a $150 stipend and catered breakfast and lunch on site. Morning activities will include five-minute flash presentations on participants’ research projects. Small-group afternoon workshops will serve to discuss and hone presented research projects intended for publication, exhibit, or other professional outcomes.

A Marine Biotechnology Seminar Series

Jacob Warner (Biology and Marine Biology), Wendy Strangman (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Thomas Williamson (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Jennifer McCall (School of Nursing), Nathan Crowe (History)

Marine Biotechnology is a burgeoning field of research that encompasses the study of marine organisms and the application of biological innovations to develop products that improve humankind and ocean ecosystems alike. UNCW has a strong presence in this highly cooperative arena, and “A Marine Biotechnology Seminar Series” aims to foster and accelerate its growth by bringing leaders of the Marine Biotechnology field to UNCW and spurring new collaborations and new lines of research. Five seminars planned for Spring 2022 will address the following themes: History of Biotechnology, Business of Biotechnology, Health Applications of Marine Biotechnology, Drug Discovery in Marine Biotechnology, and Translational Aquaculture.


"Genetown: Boston and the Rise of Biotechnology" (January 28, 2022) with Dr. Robin Scheffler, Associate Professor at MIT

Today, the Greater Boston Area (GBA) hosts the densest cluster of the biotechnology industry in the world, but fifty years ago, at the origins of the industry, few observers would have anticipated this remarkable development. In following the industry’s growth in the GBA, this presentation shows the different historical developments that shaped modern biotechnology industry - from familiar matters of scientific innovation and intellectual property to health care reform, bank loans, and urban land use. Possessing a broader awareness of these developments provides us with a new appreciation of the social relationships and responsibilities of biotechnology.