MARC HOWARD ROSS
William Rand Kenan, Jr.
Emeritus Professor of Political Science
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA USA 19010
My current project is on collective memory and forgetting asking, “Why and how do societies forget important events from their past?” My interest in this question was sparked by the publicity surrounding the story that George Washington held nine enslaved Africans in the President’s House just one block from Independence Hall while he was President and Philadelphia was the country’s capitol. There was intense controversy about what this meant and how the events on the site should be remembered and memorialized. As I followed the conflict, I developed an increasing awareness of the practice of slavery in all the northern colonies and later states of the United States. Why was this never mentioned in the public schools in New York City that I attended for 12 years given that during much of the 18th century over 40% of Manhattan’s households owned enslaved Africans and the percentages were even in higher in Brooklyn? Why in my decades living in Philadelphia was it not common knowledge that William Penn and many early Quaker settlers were slaveholders? Or that slave auctions were commonly held in Boston’s taverns? My interest expanded beyond the President’s House site to the broader question of why and how slavery faded from public consciousness so that most Americans soon perceived it entirely as a “southern problem.” There is no a single, simple answer, Among those I explore are the absence of reminders of northern slavery in the region’s symbolic landscape, unstated collusion between whites and blacks each of whom feels great shame about enslavement albeit for different reasons, northern narratives that blamed southerners, that argued that northern slavery was small-scale and gentler than its southern counterpart, and at the same time, suggested that blacks were not really ready for full citizenship. One legacy is that slavery and its aftermath is still a topic that is so difficult for white and many black Americans as well to address directly. I am in the process of writing a book on these questions that I expect will be completed in 2015.
Cultural Contestation in Ethnic Conflict. Cambridge University Press, 2008. Winner, Best Book in Ethnicity, National and Migration Studies awarded by the International Studies Association.
Culture and Belonging in Divided Societies. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
Full Text of Selected Recent Articles
“The Politics of Memory and Peacebuilding,” in Roger MacGinty (ed). Routledge Handbook of Peacebuilding. London: Routledge, 2012.
Culture in Comparative Political Analysis, ” in Mark I. Lichbach and Alan S. Zuckerman, (eds), Comparative Politics: Rationality Culture and Structure, Second Edition. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp, 134-61.
“Peace Education and Political Science,” in Ed Cairns and Gavriel Solomon (eds), Handbook of Peace Education. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor and Francis, 2009, pp. 121-133
“Ritual and the Politics of Reconciliation,” in Yaacov Bar-Simon-Tov (ed). From Conflict Resolution to Reconciliation. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press 2004, 197-224.
"The Political Psychology of Competing Narratives: September 11 and Beyond." In Craig Calhoun, Paul Price and Ashley Timmer, (eds), Understanding September 11. New York: The New Press, 2002, 303-320. (A shorter version appears on : http://www.ssrc.org/sept11/)
"Psychocultural Interpretations and Dramas: Identity Dynamics in Ethnic Conflict," Political Psychology. 22 (Spring 2001), pp. 157-178.
"Creating the Conditions for Peacemaking: Theories of Practice in Ethnic Conflict Resolution," Ethnic and Racial Studies. 23 (November 2000), 1002-1034.