top of page

  2021 Annual        Un-conference

Objects and Identity in #VastEarlyAmerica

Tray (Batea) with Turnus Provoked into War by Aeneas

 José Manuel de la Cerda

Date: ca. 1763

Culture: Mexican

Medium: Wood, lacquer, gold

Institution: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Accession Number: 2020.321

An Important Update:


August 2, 2021


While we have enjoyed reading the many excellent submissions, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s un-conference due to concerns regarding continued uncertainties, and out of respect for other factors that affect our community’s health and well-being.


At this point, we are exploring possibilities for a future program later this year or in early 2022. We plan to announce a new date and time via Twitter, Instagram, and in the coming months, so please check back often.


In the meantime, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Thank you for your support of Materializing Race, our community, and for your understanding.

- The Materializing Race Team




The Second Annual 

Materializing Race



 We invite you to join us on: 

New Date and Time TBA


In a commitment to fostering nuanced interpretations of early American objects and meaningful dialogue on historical constructions of race and their legacies, we invite panelists to share and discuss research on the intersections of identity and material culture in #VastEarlyAmerica. Our open, participant-driven sessions seek to promote a diverse cross-section of scholarship, knowledge, and experience.

Call for Submissions

CFP Deadline:

Sunday, August 1, 2021


Current grad students, PhDs, ECRs, curators, museum & historic trades interpreters, artists and practitioners of historic methods and crafts, and independent/unaffiliated scholars with a special welcome to BIPOC, AAPI, #WomenAlsoKnowHistory, and LGBTQ2+.



This two-hour virtual program will address a variety of topics and questions, such as, but not limited to:

  • “Things in context” and interpretations of early American objects through the lenses of race, ethnicity, and identity, 1450-1830

  • Potential methodological approaches and revisions/additions to existing material culture frameworks

  • How can #VastEarlyAmerica work to expand the traditional American material culture canon and related connoisseurship? 

  • Historians and material culture specialists as genealogists: how do our own personal family/ancestral narratives intersect with our study of early American history and material culture; the historian as biographer; the biographical object and the object biography

  • Public history, from the exhibition and display of objects in museum settings to historical and character interpretation, to include historic trades and foodways





We welcome a variety of object-centered approaches and methodologies including historical, art historical, anthropological, archaeological, and experimental/experiential.


#VastEarlyAmerica,1450 to 1830, to include North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. Papers addressing topics beyond this theme will not be considered.

Submission Format:

Proposals should be object-focused and include a brief abstract (250 words + one relevant image) along with a short CV. Presentations should be 10 min. and formatted in PowerPoint. Please email your submissions by Sunday August 1, 2021 to:



Papers will be grouped by panel, followed by a moderated group discussion and audience questions, via Zoom.


Recording of Event:

In an effort to safeguard our participants and their creative and intellectual property, this event will not be recorded.









Audience Registration

More Info

An Important Note on Participation Transparency


In order to alleviate any concerns regarding our motivation or intention, this call asks for volunteer participants who feel comfortable donating their time and expertise.


Materializing Race is an independent initiative run entirely by volunteers who do not receive compensation for this work. We seek to privilege new and emerging voices who are committed to furthering this type of conversation.

We are grateful to our panelists and participants who generously donate their time and expertise to Materializing Race.


Thank you for being the core of our community and the embodiment of our vision.

                                                                - The Materializing Race Team

SOWF logo.png

We would like to thank the Society of Winterthur Fellows for their generous sponsorship of this event.




Shoulder bag

Date: ca. 1780

Geography: Possibly made in Minnesota or Wisconsin, United States; or Ontario, Canada

Culture: Anishinaabe, probably Ojibwa, Native American

Medium: Tanned leather, porcupine quills, dye, metal cones, deer hair, vegetal fiber, and wool yarn

Institution: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Accession Number: 2018.867.4


Plantation House Bell

Date: ca. 1784–1788

Geography: Used in the Mount Vernon Mansion, Virginia, United States; Probably made in America

Medium: Copper alloy, iron
Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III,1860

Accession Number: W-976

bottom of page