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Lyra D. Monteiro received her PhD from Brown University in 2012, and specializes in public humanities, early United States history, and race and ethnic identity. Her work focuses on the uses of the past in public culture, with a particular emphasis on issues of race and representation in the telling of the United States’ pasts. She is the recipient of the 2016 Walter and Lillian Lowenfels Award for Criticism from the American Book Awards for her work on the Broadway musical Hamilton. Her review essay in The Public Historian, titled “Race-Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton,” argued that despite its celebrated multiracial casting, the play reinforces the idea that the United States’ past was populated solely by white people, thus normalizing and legitimizing white power in the present. Her current book project The Classical Legacy: The Invention of White Heritage in the Early United States, explores the recruitment of the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt as racial ancestors by America’s white founders. The manuscript focuses on communal settings, in the period between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, in which bodies, performances, and spaces were simultaneously racialized and linked to Mediterranean antiquity.
Dr. Monteiro also directs The Museum On Site, a public humanities/art project that aims to help people understand their worlds through site-specific, free public experiences that share ideas and information in accessible and stimulating ways. Previous projects have included an installation at the public festival WaterFire Providence, combining public performances and participatory ritual to address the history and legacy of Rhode Island’s transatlantic slave trade; a photo-based diorama of a busy street in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, displayed in a store window with labels that shared stories from the past and present of the people, buildings, and things on two blocks (www.westminsterstories.com); and a pop-up museum that filled a real street with hundreds of museum labels about that street (www.tinyurl.com/museumvideo). Dr. Monteiro's current project with The Museum On Site is called "Washington's Next!" and was originally presented in October 2018 as part of the Art in Odd Places BODY Festival and Exhibition (www.washingtonsnext.com).
She has also worked on curatorial, education, and development projects for over a dozen museums and cultural institutions, including the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Harvard Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
In addition to public-facing writing in magazines and blogs, her work has been published in Current Anthropology, Archaeologies: The Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, and the Journal of Roman Archaeology.
- African-American History I
- Introduction to Public History
- Intergroup Dialogue: Race (co-taught with Honors Living-Learning Community Associate Dean Marta Esquilin)
- Race and Identity in the Early United States
- History of the United States I
- Independent Study: African American History and Education Prior to the Civil War
- Presenting the Past: Public Histories of Slavery for the 21st Century
- Public History: Community Engagement and Site-Specific Storytelling
- Independent Study: African American Memory and Counter-Memory
Co-founded in 2008 by Lyra Monteiro and Andrew Losowsky
The Museum On Site is dedicated to helping people understand their worlds through site-specific, free public experiences that share ideas and information in accessible and stimulating ways.
The Museum On Site is committed to:
- changing people’s understanding of the worlds around them
- providing broad access to ideas and information by entering existing non-museum spaces where people gather
- educating people in stimulating, non-conventional ways, engaging them both emotionally and intellectually through methodologies drawn from theater, museums, art, advertising, public ritual, and other, experience-based media
- working with scholarly research in a sensitive way, bringing together academics and local community groups
- inspiring people to use its creations as a springboard to further learning, by providing educational opportunities and information
- documenting its work, inviting discussion, and sharing its methods and discoveries
Dr. Monteiro's current project with The Museum On Site is called "Washington's Next!" and was first presented in October 2018 as part of the Art in Odd Places BODY Festival and Exhibition. The project website can be found here: www.washingtonsnext.com; and the project's social media accounts (@WashingtonsNext on Twitter and Instagram) are updated as the project evolves.
Previous projects include:
A Thousand Ships: A Ritual of Remembrance Marking the Bicentennial of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, a collaboration with artist Barnaby Evans, which took place at WaterFire Providence, and reached an audience of 30,000 residents and tourists. A book documenting the event is available for purchase here: https://www.blurb.com/b/3218866-a-thousand-ships, and a free PDF can be downloaded here: http://www.themuseumonline.com/book/1000_SHIPS_LOWRES_05.10.12.pdf
Westminster Stories, a photo-based diorama of a busy street in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, displayed in a store window with labels that shared stories from the past and present of the people, buildings, and things on two blocks. The website for the project, which was updated on a weekly basis throughout the project, is archived here: http://www.westminsterstories.com/
The Museum of Westminster Street, a pop-up museum that filled a real street with hundreds of museum labels about that street. A short video documenting this project is available here: www.tinyurl.com/museumvideo
Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Award for Criticism, American Book Awards, 2016
Create Change Fellowship, The Laundromat Project, 2016
Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of English and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, July 2013-June 2014
J.M. Stuart Fellow, John Carter Brown Library, September 2009-June 2010
Jay and Deborah Last Fellow, American Antiquarian Society, January 2010
Summer Seminar Fellow, American Numismatic Society, June-July 2007
Mellon Fellowship for Humanistic Studies, 2004-2005
Ph.D., Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University, 2012
M.A., Public Humanities, Brown University, 2009
M.A., Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan, 2006
M.A., Classical Studies-Latin, University of Michigan, 2006
B.A., Anthropology and Classical Civilizations, summa cum laude, New York University, 2004
queer theory, counter-hegemonic heritage discourses and practices, the politics of the past, representation of non-normative bodies and subjectivities in popular culture, autotheory as a mode of scholarly writing, postcolonial/anti-colonial/liberation archaeology, intergenerational trauma from slavery and settler-colonialism, Intergroup Dialogue and other approaches to social justice education, dance and empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, black radical thought, collective memory and the nation state, inclusive museum practices, intersections of public humanities and public art, site-specific artistic performance and installation, public histories of slavery
Edited with Andrew Losowsky, A Thousand Ships: A Ritual of Remembrance Marking the Bicentennial of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Providence: The Museum On Site, 2012)
“Race-Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.” The Public Historian 38, no. 1 (Feb 2016): 89-98. Reprinted in Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2018).
“Methodology of A Thousand Ships,” in A Thousand Ships: A Ritual of Remembrance Marking the Bicentennial of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, eds. A. Losowsky and L. Monteiro (Providence: The Museum On Site, 2012)
“The Mezquita of Córdoba is Made of More than Bricks: Towards a Broader Definition of the ‘Heritage’ Protected at UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 7 (2011): 312-328.
“Including Immigrants: How Art Museums Can Bring Together Old and New Americans” in International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 1, no. 4 (2008): 139-146.
(with Daniel Shoup) “When Past and Present Collide: the Ethics of Archaeological Stewardship” in Current Anthropology 49 (2008): 328-333.
“Ethnicity and Conflict in the Roman Conquest of Spain” in TRAC 2007: Proceedings of the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, London 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008), 53-61.
“Object in Focus: A Silver Stater from Metapontum, Italy, in the Kelsey Museum,” Bulletin of the University of Michigan Museums of Art and Archaeology 26 (2005-2006), 76-79.
“The Present in the Past: Globalization and the Roman World,” a review of R. Hingley Globalizing Roman Culture, in Journal of Roman Archaeology 20 (2007): 549-554.