When (that) secularism meets (our) memory politics : repression and representation at Whitman College
Whitman College began in 1859 as a Christian secondary school to honor 19th century Christian missionary Marcus Whitman. The college wished to perpetuate the expansion of white, Christian culture in the region and celebrated its connection to the Whitmans in order to attract like-minded donors. In the 1960s, however, the settler colonialism and religiosity of the Whitmans began to clash with changing social awareness. The college shed its Christian identity and worked to become a "secular" college. However, attempts at secularization did not resulted in a neutralized public sphere in the way that secularization theories had predicted. The bubbling politics of memory at Whitman College reflect this failure of secularism to neutralize. Conflicts over what and how to remember evidence how the college works to repress its settler colonial past to avoid addressing the ways that it benefits from and perpetuates the Whitmans’ legacy.
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