Cavanaugh Lecture Features Founder of Whose Land? Project
Public historian James Levy will deliver the Spring 2024 Cavanaugh Lecture at St. John Fisher University. Sponsored by the English Department, the event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the Golisano Gateway Midlevel, and is free and open to the public.
While an associate professor of history and the public history director at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Levy established the Wisconsin Farms Oral History Project. The initiative, launched in 2012, focuses on the history of food and farming in Wisconsin regarding race, ethnicity, and cultural diversity. This statewide project was a collaboration between four University of Wisconsin campuses, namely Whitewater, Madison, Milwaukee, and Oshkosh. Following the project's success, Levy also founded a non-profit organization, the Race and Place Coalition, where he currently directs Whose Land?, one of the initiative's main projects. Whose Land? is a project that emphasizes dispossessed populations and is comprised of oral histories, collaborative community historical research, and network-building.
In addition to Wisconsin, the Whose Land? project has expanded to New York due to the states' shared history. Between 1820 and 1870, tens of thousands of individuals from diverse backgrounds migrated from New York to Wisconsin. This migration began with First Nation members who left their ancestral homelands in New York, some of whom were forced out. Following this, Black and white abolitionists and farmers left New York to settle in Wisconsin where they went on to establish the Republican Party. These historical connections underscore the Whose Land? project's core concerns about Black, Indigenous, and other disadvantaged communities. The concerns include widespread land loss and displacement issues, housing rights, food sovereignty, and environmental justice.