Shom Mazumder (Harvard University, Government)
"The Slave Order in American Political Development: Evidence from the New Deal Era"
Nick Millman (University of Pennsylvania, English)
"Fitful Transitions: Memory Museums and Transitional Justice in Peru"
How and to what did degree slavery shape the reach of the American state? SHOM MAZUMDER advances the slave order thesis, which suggests that the institution of slavery generated both the culture and context for racial discrimination in the spatial distribution of the state. Using the New Deal period, he argues that slavery left an indelible imprint on the nature of the redistributive state more than 50 years after emancipation. To test his argument, he uses county-level data on the distribution of New Deal spending across the South. Instrumental variables estimates suggest that counties that had a historically high prevalence of slavery received less spending for the Works Progress Administration. This study demonstrates that the slave order left a tangible impact on the lives of African Americans long after it was abolished by shaping the ways in which the state continued to perpetuate racial stratification.
NICK MILLMAN's paper scrutinizes the aesthetics of the recently established memory museum, El Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia, y la Inclusión Social (LUM) located in Lima, Peru, as an entry point to discussing the era of political violence and constitutional crisis from 1980-2000. He focuses on how the LUM narrates a series of fitful transitions in recent Peruvian history: from a Maoist insurgency helmed by Sendero Luminoso, to the state’s equally brutal counterinsurgency efforts, resulting in the authoritarian rule of President Alberto Fujimori, to the undoing of this regime in a transitional justice effort to reinstall democracy through a United Nations sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2003. The TRC’s final report called for the state to undertake “symbolic reparations,” which manifested in the construction of various memory museums and memorials throughout Peru, the LUM being the most recent. Millman approaches this memory museum as a narrative system in its own right, which constructs a vision of a violent past, a tenuous present, and a redemptive future defined by a contradictory resolution in liberal democratic governance.