Triangle Fire Memorial

The Politics of Memory: Remembering Laborers, Women, and Italian Immigrants Through Public Monuments (April 11, 2024)

The Politics of Memory: Remembering Laborers, Women, and Italian Immigrants Through Public Monuments
Thur. April 11, 2024  6:30 pm (in person)
SBUS (School of Business) 101 Directions RESERVATION FORM

The Triangle Fire Memorial in Manhattan is the first labor memorial and one of only a handful of memorials to women in New York City. It was inaugurated in October 2023 to commemorate the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, one of the worst workplace tragedies in American history. The fire took place on March 25, 1911 at a sweatshop right off Washington Square and caused the death of 146 workers, mostly Italian and Jewish young female immigrants. Even though the legal repercussions were mild for the factory owners, the fire became a key moment in the introduction of safety and health measures as well as in the formation of labor unions. The conversation with the co-designer of the memorial, Richard Joon Yoo, and the president of Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, Mary Anne Trasciatti, will use the Triangle Fire Memorial, its genesis and impact, as the starting point of a discussion on the relationship between history, memory and public space, and the politics at work in building the past in the present. 

Guest speakers: Richard Joon Yoo and Mary Anne Trasciatti
Moderated by Teresa Fiore and Benjamin Nienass

Organized and sponsored by the Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University, as part of (an extended) Women’s History Month.


Guest speakers

Richard Joon Yoo is an architectural designer, artist, teacher, and writer. His work focuses on the relationship between memory and the built environment through memorials and monuments. He is co-designer, with Uri Wegman, of the Triangle Fire Memorial in Manhattan, as well as the co-creator of the Collective Ribbon project at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), the first step in the fabrication of the Triangle Fire Memorial. In 2023 the Triangle Fire Memorial was awarded the New York City’s Public Design Commission 40th Annual Design Award. His work has been exhibited at the Pratt Institute’s Siegel Gallery, Casa Italiana at NYU, and the Center for Architecture in NYC, as well as featured in the New York Times, PBS the Future of America’s Past, Architect Magazine, The Architects Newspaper, and the Villager.

Joon Yoo studied Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). He has taught at SCI-Arc and Woodbury University in Los Angeles, and is currently Adjunct Professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture in Brooklyn New York. For his writing, he won the 2023 Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Anthology in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture. 

Mary Anne Trasciatti is Professor of Rhetoric and Public Advocacy and Director of Labor Studies at Hofstra University. She is also president of Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. Dr. Trasciatti studies working-class social movements, social protest, public memory, and practices of commemoration. She is completing a book on the civil liberties activism of radical labor organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and is co-editor of two recent anthologies: Talking to the Girls: Intimate and Political Essays on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (New Village Press, 2022, with Edvige Giunta) and Where Are the Workers?: Labor’s Stories at Museums and Historical Sites (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2022, with Robert Forrant). For over a decade, she has helped organize the annual official Triangle Fire commemoration and has led the project to build the Triangle Fire Memorial.


Benjamin Nienass is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His research as a political theorist focuses on how assumptions about a shared past and shared memories relate to claims about political legitimacy and political membership. His publications on Holocaust memory in Germany, public grief in the United States, and memory activism in Mexico have appeared in The Review of Politics, Politics and Society, The German Studies Review, Globalizations, the Latin American Research Review, Current History, Sociologica, and many other journals. He is also the co-editor of Silence, Screen, and Spectacle: Rethinking Social Memory in the Age of Information (Berghahn, 2014), Las Luchas por la memoria contra las violencias en México (Colegio de México, 2023), The Routledge Handbook of Memory Activism (Routledge, 2023), and of several special journal issues, most recently “Myths of Innocence in German Public Memory” in German Politics and Society (2021). He teaches courses in political theory, as well as courses on the politics of memory and on utopias and intentional communities. 

Teresa Fiore is Full Professor of Italian and the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. Her research interests include theories of space, the culture of migrations, and the representation of labor in creative works. She is the author of Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham UP, 2017) and numerous articles on Italian American culture, migration to/from Italy, and 20th- and 21st-century Italian literature and cinema, which appeared in Italian, English and Spanish in both journals and edited collections. She coordinates a regular program of cultural events and educational initiatives on campus, including a recent screening and panel devoted to the conflicts around monuments in the U.S. (See Stonebreakers)


Collective Ribbon: The Interwoven Voices of the Triangle Fire Memorial at NYU Casa Italian until March 29, 2024.
The Triangle Fire Memorial: Genesis and Impact (video by Awen Films)
The Triangle Fire Memorial Coalition website
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (History Channel short video)
The Fire of a Movement (THE FUTURE OF AMERICA’S PAST – video)

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