Editor’s note: As has previously been mentioned on this blog, our sister blog, Migrant Knowledge, also always bears some relevance to the history of knowledge. This is not surprising since, as that blog’s motto points out, it seeks to “writ[ e] knowledge into the history of migration and migration into the history of knowledge.” In that spirit, we offer this crossposting from Migrant Knowledge as we have occasionally done since that blog’s inception.
On 12 June 1942, Rosel Wolff (1899–1982) handwrote a letter from her new home in the small village of Broughton in Lancashire, England, to RELICO, the Committee for Relief of the War-Stricken Jewish Population. Having fled to Britain in August 1939, she sought to maintain contact with her beloved sister, Paula (1896–1942), after her brother, Theodor (1905–1978), was interned in Australia as an enemy alien in July 1940, traveling there on the infamous SS Dunera. After receiving news via the Red Cross that her sister had been forcibly taken, Rosel wrote in desperation to RELICO in Geneva in an effort to locate her:
Continue reading “‘I beg you again from my heart to help me find my sister’: RELICO and the Need for Knowledge” →
“Freedom through knowledge” was one of the slogans of Planned Parenthood’s first national campaign in 1942. Publishing pamphlets, posters, and testimonials under the headline “Planned Parenthood in Wartime,” the organization related contraception to the need for women workers in the war industries, the urgency of high maternal death rates, and the superiority of American democracy over totalitarianism. This was the organization’s first campaign since changing its name from the Birth Control Federation of America to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The campaign and the new name marked a shift in focus from promoting birth control, that is the use of contraceptives once there were too many children in a family, to advocating child spacing, the idea that couples should consciously plan the arrival of their children from the beginning of their marriage.
Continue reading “Freedom through Knowledge: Liberalism, Censorship, and Public Health in Early Planned Parenthood Campaigns” →
This is the final of three pieces on provenance research that we are publishing in conjunction with the 6th German/American Provenance Exchange Program (PREP) in Washington, DC.
As art objects circulate over time, they connect various people, places, times, stories, and even historiographies. Although they cannot speak to us directly about their biographies, we can still interrogate them and related evidence in order to learn more about who once possessed them and where and how they were kept. As we do this, we can draw on the concept of circulation to direct scholarly attention toward how not only objects but also knowledge about them moves. Objects, knowledge, and their significance for those involved is continuously circulated and negotiated, yielding new knowledge and meaning in the process. Thus, we might endeavor to elaborate both the spatial and temporal dimensions of provenance research as integral parts of contemporary art history.
Continue reading “Provenance Research and Circulation: Examples from the Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Collection” →
Brainstorming as a way to organize ideation was first practiced in the United States in 1938 in the advertising firm Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO). One partner, Alex Osborn, later described it as “using the brain to storm a problem,” adding that it should be done “in commando fashion.” As a method for thinking freely and wildly, so as to generate “new thoughts and ideas that no individual would have thought of on their own,” it was remarkable for its initial combination of conscious effort and play, of tenacious exercise and practices of freedom, and of rationality and irrationality. Brainstorming gained traction in American manufacturing, government, and the military in and after World War Two. And while brainstorming developed as a knowledge-generating practice squarely at the heart of military-industrial settings, it was pitted against predominant utilitarian rationalities of management, the military, and bureaucracies, for instance. Practiced in settings that explicitly suspended hierarchical orderings, it was geared toward the democratic expertise of no expertise—where anybody can have ideas. I have hypothesized that in order to overcome the boundaries imposed by modern and emergent rationalities in these settings, brainstorming offered a form of counterknowledge: an understanding that came about by not following the usual rules of thought.
Continue reading “Knowing Otherwise: The Transatlantic Travels of Creative Thinking Expertise in the 1950s” →