American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Coming Event on Ghost River: Decolonization Through Artistic Reinterpretation

Published September 17, 2020

On October 7, the Publics Lab at the Graduate Center will host a conversation with the historians and artists behind Ghost River.  

Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga (Red Planet Books and Comics, 2019) is a graphic novel about the Paxton massacres of 1763. However, as the title suggests, the Paxton vigilantes associated with this tragedy are peripheral to this story. This volume introduces new interpreters and new forms of evidence in order to foreground Indigenous victims, survivors, and kin in ways that colonial printed records – with their focus on colonial elites – cannot do alone. Written, illustrated, and published by Native partners, Ghost River confronts challenges that accompany studies of colonial America. How can we tell difficult stories that don’t reproduce past assumptions? Can we recollect tragedy without eulogizing it? And how can acts of artistic reinterpretation reveal the fluidity of history, memory, and collective mythology? Artist Weshoyot Avlitre (Tongva), author Dr. Lee Francis IV (Pueblo of Laguna), and editor Dr. Will Fenton will discuss their collaboration, and how artistic reinterpretation of colonial records enabled the team to imagine a narrative that re-centers the Indigenous past and present in colonial America.

Co-sponsored by the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning.  Free and open to the public.  To register, go to:

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