About the Project

Resistance Mapping is a local, collaborative digital humanities project focused on how the places of Monroe County, NY have been shaped by histories of institutional racism and collective community resistance.

Our aim is to create a living archive that:

  1. documents the history of racist housing and other place-based policies in Rochester and the surrounding region
  2. explores how our city’s current segregation emerges from that history
  3. confronts these realities through stories of past and present activism, along with creative imagined possibilities for our community’s future

What is a living archive?

We typically think of archives as bounded collections of materials documenting a history or multiple histories. By attaching the term “living” to archive, we do two important things. First, we foreground the bodies, lives, and relationships that shape archives. Second, we emphasize the way our understanding of the archive is shaped by our present-day lived realities.

The core of our project is an interactive map of local school districts that invites visitors to explore contemporary data on school segregation and inequity alongside historical data on racist housing policies. These historical policies made it extremely difficult for people of color to buy or rent property, access job opportunities, and build generational wealth in the Rochester area. We still see and experience the long-term effects of those policies today.

The second main project component is an archive of antiracist instructional materials, the result of an ongoing curriculum project led by K-12 educators across Monroe County. Teachers are developing materials for different grade levels that enable students to gradually build knowledge about the complicated histories of racism and resistance in our community. On the Resistance Mapping platform, we host the full archive of teaching materials (lesson plans, slides, student handouts, and instructor guides) for teachers to access.

Both components are meant to be active, in-progress resources for residents, educators, and students in Monroe County, along with anyone interested in knowing more about Rochester’s histories. Along the lifeline of this project, we invite students, teachers, and members of the public to contribute new material to our living archive. Please reach out via our “Contact Us” page if you’d like to contribute primary source material or new map-based data to the project. The Antiracist Curriculum Project team will continue to develop and revise teaching materials, and any new updates will be available in the “Curriculum Material” section.

Why focus on place-based policies?

Like other cities across the United States, Rochester’s development has been shaped by federal policies and sweeping political decisions with long-term effects on the community: redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and urban renewal. Our community members have also experienced more local, intimate violences tied to specific places: the July 1964 riots, the Clarissa Street demolition, and, as recently as 2020, the murder of Daniel Prude by Rochester Police Officers on Jefferson Avenue. Resistance Mapping layers contemporary and historical data to consider past, present, and future links among the events that have occurred in our neighborhoods.

Our place-based focus also serves this project’s educational goals. The Resistance Mapping platform supports the ongoing development of K-12 antiracist curriculum in Monroe County. The place-based foundation of our work gives students a way to connect contemporary and historical events to the streets, neighborhoods, and schools that they move through every day. With the project’s various interactive maps, we hope to close the distance between history lessons and students’ lived experience.

What does resistance mean for our project?

We find resistance both in our methods and in our project’s content. It is in what we include on the website and it names the practices of building and engaging with the website.

We consider our work on this project to be an act of resistance, a call to action, and a way for us to use our particular areas of expertise to take action in response to the continued oppressions in our community. This is a collaborative, community-engaged, slow-scholarship project. For us, working in this mode means that the process is the product. For educators, students, and their families to engage with the materials curated here is an act of resistance against the status quo and ahistoricism.

Our project interacts with the history of activism at broader national and state levels, but our focus is on individual and local sites of resistance to strong oppressive systems. Our project archive documents the policies that produced the spatial and racial segregation we still see, but also documents the ways people then and now, as individuals and groups, resisted. We are, therefore, committed to including (and continuing to build our archive of) stories of creative hope, survival, growth, and thriving that resist these racist pasts and presents.