RareBooks Hero

Authoritarian Destruction and Resistance: Preserving Cultural Literature during War

Literature is often the first cultural element to be marked for destruction by authoritarian regimes. But what makes the written word such a threat to these destructive forces? And how have different communities used the preservation of the written word as a method of resistance?

These are the foundational questions at the heart of this panel discussion that will look at historical parallels between the stories of Jewish literature during the Holocaust, Native American literature under the duress of settler colonialism, and Hmong literature in the crosshairs of multiple hostile governments. Join Jewish Museum Milwaukee for a rousing discussion that will challenge everyone to reconsider what they might risk to save a book. 

Panelist include:

  • Mark Freeland, Director of the Electa Quinney Institute and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Dr. Chia Youyee Vang, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Max Yela, Head of Special Collections at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 2024
TIME: 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.
LOCATION: Jewish Museum Milwaukee
COST: Museum Members FREE | Nonmembers $10

Purchase a Nonmember Add-on Ticket for an additional $5/nonmember to experience Jewish Museum Milwaukee galleries between 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. the night of the program. Members are welcome to visit during this time for free!

Mark Freeland is Bear Clan and a member of the Bahweting community in Northern Michigan (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe Chippewa). He received a Master of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology and a Ph D in Religious and Theological Studies from the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver joint doctoral program. His research critically identifies the role of Indigenous worldview as an integral component of cultural and linguistic translations. His book, Aazheyaadizi: Worldview, Language and the Logics of Decolonization, provides a theoretical grounding for understanding the problematic role that religion continues to play within Indigenous communities and calls for a deeper involvement of the logics of worldview in the regeneration of Indigenous lifeways and protection of our relationships to our environment.

Dr. Chia Youyee Vang is Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She oversees the division that is responsible for advancing diversity and equity and fostering inclusion for all members of the campus community. She recently led the development and implementation of UW-Milwaukee’s Racial Justice and Equity Program that is required professional development for all employees. Her teaching and research interests include twentieth century U.S. international history, the Cold War in Asia, Asian American history, Hmong history, refugee migration and transnational and diasporic communities. She is author of four books: Prisoner of Wars: A Hmong Fighter Pilot’s Story of Escaping Death and Confronting Life (Temple University Press, 2020), Fly Until You Die: An Oral History of Hmong Pilots in the Vietnam War (Oxford University Press, 2019). Hmong America: Reconstructing Community in Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, 2010), and Hmong in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2008). In March 2016, the University of Minnesota Press released her co-edited volume, Claiming Place: On the Agency of Hmong Women. Dr. Vang’s research is global in scope but intimately informed by her own refugee experiences as a child. She is interested in not only understanding larger political and military transformations, but also, the lived experiences of those who experience wars not of their own making but fought in their environments. Her documentation of Southeast Asian refugee lives and that of their descendants across four continents help us to better understand the lasting impact of one of the most controversial wars of the 20th century.

Max Yela has led UWM Libraries’ Special Collections–the premier public collection of rare books and special printed materials in southeastern Wisconsin–since 1994. The collection consists of over 100,000 printed items from the 15th century to the present, covering a wide range of subjects that hold long-term historical research potential for UWM academic programs in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Collecting strengths include American nursing history, the book as an art medium, comic books and zines, local and regional history, Native American literature, women’s and gender studies, and much more.

As head of the department, Max curates its holdings and creates programming around them, instructs as many as 100 visiting classes each year, provides research assistance, produces programs and exhibitions, and mentors interns. He has taught several courses at UWM, including History of Books & Printing in the School of Information Studies, and Book Arts Survey and Book Arts Concepts in the department of Art & Design, where he is currently a member of the graduate faculty. Outside of UWM, he has organized exhibitions, presented at conferences and workshops, and written catalog essays and reviews. For his many contributions to the arts community, he received the 2017 Wisconsin Visual Arts Achievement Award.

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