Historian to deliver Barstow Lecture

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As part of SVSU’s annual Visiting Scholars and Artists Series, professor Alison Games from Georgetown University will be speaking at the Barstow Lecture today at 4:30 p.m. in Founder’s Hall.

The history department typically organizes the Barstow Lecture. Games was invited by her former colleague, SVSU history professor Isaac Stephens, to the lecture.

“She’s talking about interactions between people, and how through those interactions we can have a creation of ways people think they should structure their society,” Stephens said. “She’s looking at human interactions that can reveal the themes of migration, war and diverse interactions; all those things are still enormously relevant.”

The topic of the lecture is centered around The Amboyna Massacre, an event from the 17th century that is not very well-known.

“Even specialists who work on the 17th century don’t know about it, and what people know tends to be pretty addled and confused because once the incident became known as the Amboyna Massacre, historians became pretty confused about what exactly happened there,” Games said.

Games stated she is writing a book on the topic and saw the opportunity to speak at SVSU as a good way to discuss her book, educate the public on the topic and display its relevance to current society.

“It is important to understand how events in the past were defined and redefined and understood by contemporaries, and then remembered in later decades,” Games said. “We all participate in that same process in the present, both in how we understand and label events in the world around us today and in how we make sense of and engage critically with episodes in the past.”

Stephens said he invited Games to speak in order to offer SVSU students a lecture on older history that many are less familiar with.

“I’m an early modernist, meaning I work on 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries,” Stephens said. “The previous speakers have been more modern historians, such as 19th and 20th centuries. Games is also an early modernist, and she is a pioneer for the direction of history called Atlantic history.”

Games will also visit one of history professor Brad Jarvis’ classes the following day to speak with his students.

Volunteers from the Rhetoric and Professional Writing department will facilitate a question-and-answer session among Games and students.

The discussion will be recorded and added as one of the history department’s podcast episodes.
Games said she is looking forward to her time at SVSU.

“I’m hoping people will walk out thinking about how historical events get defined and remembered, and about who has the power and interest in defining these events in certain ways, and will bring that critical perspective to their own study of the past and of the present, too,” Games said.

Games is the Dorothy M. Brown Distinguished Professor of History at Georgetown, teaching classes on a variety of history topics.

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