ANALYZING ARTIFACTS TO UNDERSTAND LIFE IN THE PAST

Building on Part 1 analysis of your artifact, continue to think about it as a “small thing” which tells us something about life in the American West in the 19th century. You’ll work with this artifact all semester, and consider its meaning in different contexts and with multiple theoretical approaches. In Part I we wrote about the meaning of the artifact as a “small thing forgotten”, and in Parts II and III we will now think about the meaning of the artifact in particular contexts of identity and social experience.

Part II:

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Read the attached excerpt from Orser’s book (see below), on impacts of racialization on Chinese laundry workers in California. In your team, discuss how the argument mobilizes particular data sets or types of evidence to understand racialized experiences. Compare this to the article by Mullins (1999, discussed in lecture).
Think about how your artifact would fit within an argument of a household’s experience in racialization, and draft a paragraph of this interpretative perspective. In the paragraph cite Orser (2007), other readings from the unit on race, or Mullins (1999). Keep in mind how access to markets or the user/owner’s ethnicity or gender play a role in the meaning of this artifact.
Each team member should write a discussion board post of 200-250 words that describes some ideas you have on what the artifact might mean regarding racialized experiences, and how it relates to the Orser reading. As a team try to draft a paragraph of the main ways that you think we could interpret this artifact through a race-based lens; this might mean each team member posts 2-3 times in this discussion board. This paragraph will be part of your final artifact analysis at the end of the class.

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