Update on my Research Project and the Purpose of this Blog

I am currently a fifth-year graduate student in Cornell’s Ph.D. program in the History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies, and am in the early stages of my dissertation research.  This blog is part of a long-term project contributing to the research I do in preparation for my dissertation, in which I intend to focus on the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York City.

I will be exploring the controversies over the control of the site since 2001, with particular attention to the fact that a private foundation has maintained the site since the 9/11 attacks, in contrast to the National Park Service (NPS) control over other related sites and memorials.  I intend to look into the social, legal and economic differences that have resulted from NPS versus private control over this urban landscape of loss, commemoration, and healing, and how those differences have affected what has happened to the site.  Importantly, I am curious about how these varying approaches to control have affected the determination of which stakeholders’ stories of significance about the site have been incorporated into the designs for the Memorial and Museum.  I will be combining studies of preservation law, opportunities for community engagement, the active production of heritage narratives, the creation and selection of memory, the relationship between rehearsals of absence/loss and the process of using heritage narratives for healing, negotiating the complications of urban heritage sites, the intersections of private and public ownership of heritage sites and narratives in US law and culture, and how all of these factors manifest in the design of memorials and their associated museums.

Previously, my research had focused on World Heritage Sites and related policies for their curation and cultural resource management, particularly in terms of community involvement in the management and interpretation of sites, which followed earlier phases of research on sustainable tourism practices at cultural and heritage sites.  My goals for my dissertation project have clearly changed over time, during which period I did not keep up with posting on this blog; however, I intend to return to this project as a place to reflect on my research, and I am taking this blog in a new direction that will better reflect my current research plans.  As of this writing in May of 2015, these goals will still incorporate elements of sustainable practices, tourism, and the maintenance of archaeological sites that I had explored in the earlier incarnation of this blog, but will also focus more significantly on material specifically tied to the topic of my dissertation.

As I started this blog 2 years ago in response to a set of research projects that were the beginning of my in depth work in this field, a number of the posts on this site are from that time period, and reflect my focus from that time.  As they are still an informative part of my work, even with the shift in primary concentration for my research, I have decided to continue on the same blog site and leave those writings available here.  I also have a series of writings that I have worked on in the interim that I intend to add to this site as part of my work to update this to reflect my current progress.  As I do so, please feel free to comment or ask questions!  I would be happy to build a place of dialogue about this topic as I move forward with my research in this field.


About E. Emmons Hahn

I am a cultural historian specializing in heritage and museum studies - particularly issues surrounding the ownership, interpretation, and presentation of historic works, sites and landscapes that are connected to identity narratives. I am also a writer, editor, and photographer, with a penchant for applying these skills to topics related to travel, cultural and natural heritage, and the arts. Throughout my work, I am passionate about teaching - helping others to develop their skills, deepen their understanding, question their assumptions, and realize their visions.
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