2020 BMRC Fellow: Theodore Foster, PhD

T. Foster Photo_b.jpg

Assistant Professor, Department of History
University of Louisiana - Lafayette

Project Title: Projecting Archives: The Politics of Black Chicago History, Memory and Civil Rights
This research project is focused on investigating how the historical memory of the CAFSNCC and broader Black Freedom Struggle is repurposed by the distinct mission of the Chicago SNCC History Project. The following research questions guide my approach to studying the politics of historical memory in Chicago: 1) What is the social significance and relationship of Black historical memory and ongoing struggles for freedom and equality? 2) How can information traditionally stored in archives be made more accessible to the Black community? 3) How is Black Chicago life and history archived through the politics of protest, organizing and institution building disrupting a static orientation to the past? Because of its unique history as one of the major destinations of the Great Migration and subsequent development of the Chicago Black Renaissance, Chicago is an important site of ongoing and future research that analyzes the politics of historical memory of Black freedom struggles across institutions, corporations,visual art, governments and grassroots community organizing.

The title of this proposal, Projecting Archives emphasizes how archives are themselves projects that veterans of the Long Black Freedom Struggle, such as Dr. Fannie Rushing and Sylvia Fischer, repurpose and reshape in a variety of formats such as the Chicago SNCC History Project’s mission. Archives are often incomplete projections of the complexities and nuances of Black life and thus scholars, activists, archivists, civic leaders and others must tend to these gaps in creative ways.The project of building and making everyday use of archives is a central component of my praxis as a researcher and educator.