Exploring the exhibition:
Protests and Pedagogy: Representations, Memories and Meanings
Christiana Abraham, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies, will lead a tour through the latest 4TH SPACE exhibition, Protests and Pedagogy: Representations, Memories and Meanings. She will explain and take questions about the archives chosen to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sir George Williams Affair.
This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the archival records related to the 1969 student protests at Sir George Williams University. Between January 29 and February 11, 1969, Canada’s largest student occupation took place across the street in the Henry F. Hall (H) Building, when students took over the seventh and ninth floor computer centre to protest anti-black racism in the classroom.
By revisiting these events 50 years later, the exhibition provokes questions about what archival materials say to us now. How do they enable a re-reading and retelling of the Sir George Williams Affair, and how can they inform the ongoing production of knowledge about this important history?
Many of the existing accounts of the Sir George Williams Affair have focused on violence: labeling the protest a riot, emphasizing material damages or tying it to discourses of revolution. This exhibition highlights lesser-known narratives, through images, sounds, newspaper accounts, official documents and oral testimonies that bring the archives to life. These artifacts take us on a journey to 1969, where we experience the tensions of the period playing out in black and white. Representation meets memory as the neglected complexities of the protest come into view.
Contemporary artistic renderings, meanwhile, generate meanings that disrupt normative tellings of this story. These creative pieces articulate narratives of activism and resistance, reveal unspoken symbolic scars, and stage debates about race and racism. They force us to reflect upon the unfinished business of decolonization and its relationship to teaching and learning.
By bringing together the past and present, Protests and Pedagogy: Representations, Memories, and Meanings offers a new vision of these events that allows us to reflect on our desires for the future.