Elena Gonzales is a fifth year doctoral candidate in American studies at Brown University, where she received her Masters in public humanities in 2010. Her research and projects focus on curatorial work for social justice. Her dissertation charts this type of work across diverse museums and argues that exhibitions work for social justice most effectively when engaging both intellectual and embodied emotional responses. Since coming to Brown, Elena has been the co-curator of two exhibitions, has worked at the National Museum of American History and the Anacostia Community Museum at the Smithsonian, and has taught a curatorial studies class for undergraduates. In 2012 Elena became a Ford Dissertation Fellow. She is also a Visiting Scholar in American Studies at Northwestern University.
Education:MA in Public Humanities, Brown University, 2010;
BA in Anthropology, Cornell University, 2003
Research Interests: Museums, Public Humanities, 20th Century American Cultural History, Visual Culture, Ethnic Studies
Displaying Activism Then and Now: Making an Exhibition for Social Justice (Spring, 2011)
Project Leader and Co-Curator, Public Humanities Student Project 2009-2010 Food On the Move, exhibition and programming, Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales University
Co-Curator, Public Humanities Student Project 2009, exhibition at the JNBC, Providence, RI Remember the Old Times: Cape Verdean Community in Fox Point, 1920-1945
Curator, Who Are We Now? Roots, Resistance, and Recognition, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 2005-2008 - the companion piece to the NMMA’s exhibition, The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present. Both exhibitions traveled nationally through 2010. Tour sites include: National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Museo Alameda, San Antonio, TX; Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; Smithsonian Institution Anacostia Community
Museum, Washington, DC; DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, IL.
“The Samuel Adams Brewery Tour.” The Public Historian, Vol 33, April 2011, Num 1, pp 74-78.
“The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Mashantucket, Connecticut. Kimberly Hatcher-White, executive director; Kevin Mcbride, director of research; Trudie Lamb Richmond, director of public programs.” The Public Historian, Vol 31 November 2009 Num 4, pp 120-124.
“Who Are We Now? Roots, Resistance, and Recognition,” The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present. Chicago, IL: Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 2006.
Selected Conference Presentations:
2010 “Time and Crime: Public Art Controversies as Catalysts for Conversations and the Perils of Permanence,” Panelist, New England American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Boston
2010 “The Sea is Our Destination: A Virtual Tour of Food on the Move,” Panelist, North Atlantic Society for Oceanic History Annual Meeting, University of Connecticut, Avery Point and Mystic Seaport
2009 “Cultural Heritage as Currency: Reclaiming Cultural Heritage in the Spanish Empire” at Tensions in Society and Scholarship, Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, Brown University, Providence, RI
2008 “Museos como ciudadanos: Un ejemplo de museología contemporánea” (Museums as Citizens: An Example of Contermporary Museology) at El futuro del los Museos Etnológicos (The Future of Ethnological Museums) during the 11th annual Congreso de Antropología (National Anthropological Conference), Donostia, San Sebastián, Spain
2006 “The African Presence in México: A Model for Tackling Controversy,” panelist, AmericanAssociation of Museums Centennial Conference, Boston; Association of Midwestern Museums Annual Conference, Quad Cities
Selected Professional Experience:
Research Assistant to Karl Jacoby, Professor of History at Brown University, 2009 – 2010
Intern for Peter Liebhold, Chair of the Curatorial Division of Work and Industry, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Summer 2009 (June - July)
Visiting Fellow, Anacostia Community Museum, Summer 2009 (July - August)
Associate Development Director, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 2005-2008
American Association of Museums, Membership Officer of the Latino Network Professional Interest Committee, 2006 - 2008
National Council for Public History
American Studies Association
PAGE Fellowship, Imagining America, Syracuse University, 2011
Graduate International Colloquium Grant, Office of International Affairs, Brown University “Thinking in Public: Community and Cultural Institutions in Post-National Civic Space,” 2011
Latino Museum Studies Program Fellowship, Smithsonian Latino Center, Washington, DC, 2009