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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Anthropology students bring history to life at Forsyth Galleries

A+free+exhibit+featuring+World+War+II+propaganda+was+put+together+by+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+Anthropology+students+and+is+available+for+viewing+in+the+Forsyth+Galleries+in+the+Memorial+Student+Center+as+of+April+23.
PROVIDED

A free exhibit featuring World War II propaganda was put together by Texas A&M Anthropology students and is available for viewing in the Forsyth Galleries in the Memorial Student Center as of April 23.

Currently featured at the Forsyth Galleries in the Memorial Student Center is “The Global Power of WWII Propaganda,” curated by anthropology seniors Clarissa Carrasco and Kimberly Chancellor, history senior Cameron Stapleton and management junior Alyssa Andreone. The students are pursuing a museum studies minor and compiled this exhibit as part of ANTH 421, Advanced Museum Studies.
The exhibit is free during operating hours and features posters, news and film from Germany, Japan and the United States. In addition to the in-person exhibit, Forsyth is offering a virtual edition of the collection and a free coloring page download.
Heather Thakar, P.h.D taught this semester’s ANTH 421 course. Thakar is an archaeologist, anthropology professor, museum studies minor coordinator and curator of university collections. Thakar said students were inspired by the collections of World War II materials housed across campus.
“Starting with that initial idea of World War II, [and] taking the resources that we have on campus, which are pretty vast, they decided to go with this topic of World War II propaganda,” Thakar said. “[Propaganda] is something that occurs cross-culturally and there’s a reason and motivation for it, but we can take a critical perspective and try to understand the broader context.”
This exhibit is a collaboration between the professional staff of Forsyth Galleries and the museum studies students. Thakar said support from gallery staff made curating the exhibit a hands-on learning opportunity for the entire class.
“The class did receive an incredible amount of support from the professional staff at the Forsyth Galleries. They actually went down into the Forsyth vault and looked at all the collections and artifacts that were available for them,” Thakar said. “Forsyth really opened their doors to us, which was wonderful because we had a lot of limitations this semester given the global [COVID-19] pandemic.”
Stapleton echoed this sentiment. She said working with Forsyth staff was a great chance to have support but also ownership over the exhibit.
“[The Forsyth staff] really were very helpful when we needed it, but they weren’t overbearing,” Stapleton said. “They realized that this was our hands-on experience and let us do our thing.They weren’t holding our hands, but they were there when we needed it.”
Stapleton has always been interested in World War II history, and as a history major, she said it’s important for all people to have awareness of those who came before them.
“The biggest thing that people have to realize is that we’re not that far removed from this history,” Stapleton said. “If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it. It’s important for us as students to learn about this history to avoid repeating it and avoid the mistakes and the folly from the past.”
Student curator Andreone said her favorite part of the curation process was researching the prints themselves.
“Often, I would find information that I had never heard and made World War II much more relatable or interesting,” Andreone said. “One of the most surprising finds was that [various countries] would utilize fake news as a military tactic, which I know happens plenty today.”
Though there were a lot of interesting finds for the student team, Andreone said there were also challenges in ensuring all audiences felt welcomed despite the words and images used in the historic pieces.
“I know our campus has many students with Jewish, Japanese, German and many other heritages presented in these images,” Andreone said. “We wished to not hide history, but to give light and context to better prepare viewers to recognize similar uses [of propaganda] in modern day media.”
Thakar encourages students and community members to visit the exhibition, and said she is proud of the investment Texas A&M has made in collecting and curating these artifacts.
“There’s an immense amount of resources here on this campus that are not always visible to the general public,” Thakar said. “The exhibits give us an opportunity to highlight the value of those collections in helping not only to preserve history but to convey knowledge and reach out to people in a new way.”

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