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Office: Withers Hall 245
Kawan J. Allen is a third year PhD student who is passionate about community engagement and social activism. She fervently believes that an accurate understanding and interpretation of the past – with its inherent complexities, controversies, and nuances – is essential. Denying people an inclusive narrative of the past is akin to denying them the ability to progress socially, economically, and politically, to improve society, and to successfully address contemporary issues. This philosophy is at the heart of Kawan’s work and scholarship as a public historian. She has addressed issues of historical misunderstanding and exclusion as a park ranger with the National Park Service, education coordinator, high school social studies teacher, museum professional, college-level history instructor, and researcher. Her Master’s thesis, “Tools of Oppression, Agents of Change: Jim Crow, Google Searches, and the Unmet Potential of the History Web,” examined online interpretations of Jim Crow and argued that for the history web to effectively encourage social activism and critical dialogue, it must incorporate recent interpretations of history and the voices of historical actors as well as share authority with its audience.
Teaching and Research Interests
African American History, History and Memory, Historical Interpretation, African American Public History, Administration in Cultural Heritage and Historical Institutions, Community Engagement, American History since 1865, Oral History
Kawan’s current research project examines interpretations of the Jim Crow system featured at historic sites and museums. She is particularly interested in how presented interpretations incorporate social history, negotiate historical memory, and reflect the ways in which cultural institutions can provide more nuanced understandings of violence, discrimination, and contemporary history to diverse audiences.
MA History, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2013
BA History, Secondary Education, North Carolina Central University, 2007
BA Political Science, North Carolina Central University, 2007