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Produced by American Slavery Project & The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 @ 7PM & 9PM
In 1904, a young black infant named Hazel is left on a doorstep. She is taken in by a family from whom she later runs away. Thus begins an odyssey of arrests, institutionalization, and medical intervention — all in an effort to cure her of “immorality.”
In this immersive evening of theater, Hazel shares her story and so does the field worker who “treats” her. Taken from the actual records of the Eugenics Field Office, Hazel’s story is only one of many that took place during the little-known era of scientific racism in America that are captured in the Haunted Files.
The Sheen Center in collaboration with The American Slavery Project presents an evening of theater that recreates through audience interaction, performance, and talkback the history of scientific racism and eugenics in America. Eugenics is the Progressive Era movement of white Protestant “experts” that sought to eliminate a range of marginalized peoples and elevate Northern Europeans as the norm. The movement pushed these goals through immigration restriction, sterilization, institutionalization, and controlled breeding. Its legacies continue to have a lasting impact on our country today, even with its dark ties to the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
The Eugenics Records Office was the Long Island epicenter of the American eugenics movement. In spring 2015, the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU creatively reimagined the Eugenics Records Office in the exhibit “Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office.” American Slavery Project (ASP) was invited to examine the records and created a piece as part of the exhibit programing. ASP writers have imagined the lives of the field worker and the patient and woven the stories of these two women together in a duologue, shedding light on the history of scientific racism in America.
The 7P show features a post show panel with Adam Cohen, author of Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck; Noa Fuller and Jack Tchen, co-curators of the original “Haunted Files” exhibition; and Judy Tate, co-founder of The American Slavery Project.
The A/P/A Institute’s “Haunted Files” online can be found here.
The theatrical event will be in the Loreto Theater at 7PM & 9PM and the Haunted Files Exhibition will be in Studio A&B from 9AM-5PM.