Material Culture Series

Squeeze Box Stories: A Documentary About Accordions in America

February 21, 2013, 5:30PM/ CAS 200 / 725 Commonwealth Avenue
Squeeze Box Stories: A Documentary About Accordions in America”
Marié Abe, Assistant Professor of Music Ethnomusicology, Boston University

Despite its stigmatized reputation as the “quirky” and “corny” musical instrument in the US, the accordion is ubiquitous throughout the world –  from Zimbabwe to Lebanon, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, China, Brazil, Mexico, Western and Eastern Europe, and throughout the United States. To discover what is behind the surprisingly wide appeal of this instrument, Marié Abe co-produced the NPR radio documentary “Squeezebox Stories,” (audio available at exploring the social history, multicultural adaptation, and musical variations of the accordion in California. The accordion is more than a sounding object; it’s a repository of memory, meeting place for immigrants, instrument of assimilation and upward mobility, and site of what Kathleen Stewart calls the politics of the emergent. In this talk, Abe will invite us to “think through the musical instrument” about distinct transcultural processes in the lives of immigrant communities in the United States, and what it means to explore the social life of a musical instrument.
Audio Files for “Squeeze Box Stories” Lecture–Part 1 and Part 2

Religion at the Smithsonian

January 29, 2013; 5:30pm/ CAS 200 / 725 Commonwealth Avenue
“Religion at the Smithsonian”
Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion, Boston University

Prothero recounts his recent contributions to  the Smithsonian’s Immigration/Migration Initiative entitled Americans All, including his work on the National Museum of American History’s forthcoming exhibition Routes/Roots, about immigration, migration and settlements in U.S. history.
Audio Recording of “Religion at the Smithsonian” Lecture-Part 1& Part 2

Object Lessons and American Material Culture

November 29, 2012,  5:30 PM/  CAS 200 / 725 Commonwealth Avenue
Object Lessons and American Material Culture
Sarah Carter,  Lecturer, History and Literature, Harvard University
Audio Recording of “Object Lessons and Material Culture” Part 1 & Part 2

Witness Tree Project-Teaching History and Material Culture Through Object Creation

October 22, 2012, 6:00pm/CAS 200 / 725 Commonwealth Avenue
“Witness Tree Project: Teaching History and Material Culture Through Object Creation”
Dale Broholm, Senior Critic of Furniture Design & Daniel Cavicchi, Associate Professor of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences, Rhode Island School of Design

The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site is currently exhibiting artwork from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Witness Tree Project through September 30th. The exhibit, entitled “Echoes of the Olmsted Elm,” presents student works created from the wood of the Olmsted Elm, a tree that for nearly 200 years graced the landscape of Fairsted, Olmstead’s home and office. Please visit for more information.
Audio Recording of the “Witness Tree Lecture” Part 1 & Part 2


All events are free and open to the public / Refreshments and receptions follow

Series supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities