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Copper Country commemorates World War One

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Copper Country commemorates World War One

Audience at a symposium presentation commemorating World War I.

Audience at a symposium presentation commemorating World War I.

Audience at a symposium presentation commemorating World War I.

Audience at a symposium presentation commemorating World War I.


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Researchers and professors from many parts of the world recently gathered at Michigan Tech at a symposium that was part of a community-wide commemoration of the Copper Country’s involvement in the First World War. The commemoration was a multifaceted cultural program that highlighted the local experience of Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, and Ontonagon counties and their participation in the First World War.

The commemoration started on Jun. 21, 2018 and is scheduled to end on Nov. 11. According to the organizers, the “series of historical exhibits, lectures, discussions, film screenings, media installations, and performing and visual arts events” are intended to interrogate “the integral part played by small town rural communities in the conflict”. In addition they examine, “the war’s social, economic, and cultural impacts and legacies on family and community life” of the Copper Country.

The commemoration was also intended to raise “awareness about the Great War’s significance as a geopolitical world event” and to “promote conversation and critical reflection on a wide range of discourses concerning war, for example, the nature and meaning of war, the human experience of war, war’s memory, community and wartime crisis, international conflict and resolution, and recovery and restoration in war’s aftermath.”

Some prominent researchers and historians of the First World War have given talks in the events organized so far. These include Dr. Lynn Dumenil of Occidental College, Dan Truckey of the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, Dr. Stefka Hristova, Dr. Sue Collins, Dr. Patty Sotirin of the Department of Humanities, Dr. John H. Morrow, Jr. of the University of Georgia, Dr. Brett Gary of New York University, and Dr. Hilary Virtanen of the Finnish American Heritage Center, Finlandia University.

Alfred Owusu-Ansah, a first year PhD student in the Humanities Department at Michigan Tech, told the Lode, “The events are eye-opening. There are a lot of historical landmarks that we have not paid attention to. But these talks, exhibitions, and films have unearthed them. I am glad I am in Houghton at this important time”.

The organizers are Patty Sotirin, Sue Collins, Stefka Hristova, who are professors in the Communication and Culture section of the Humanities Department and Steve Walton, professor of history in the Department of Social Sciences. The project is funded by Michigan Humanities Council, Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, Finlandia Foundation National Chapter, and Michigan Council on Arts and Community Affairs through the Copper Country Community Arts Center. Michigan Technological University, the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, and Finlandia University also partner the project.

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Copper Country commemorates World War One