Stones May Break: On the Politics of Monumentalization in Times of Toppling Statues

Webinar 2020

  • Date: Oct 5, 2020
  • Time: 13:30 - 15:30
  • Location: Zoom Meeting
Stones May Break: On the Politics of Monumentalization in Times of Toppling Statues
A Zoom-based webinar hosted by the Max Planck Research Group “Empires of Memory: The Cultural Politics of Historicity in Former Habsburg and Ottoman Lands”

For more details please contact cziesielsky(at)mmg.mpg.de.

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Recent months and years have testified to the evanescence of histories encased in bronze, iron and stone. In 2015, student protestors at the University of Cape Town initiated an ultimately successful movement to remove a statue commemorating the notorious colonial administrator and racist Cecil Rhodes. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign reverberated across the globe. More recently, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, Black Lives Matter demonstrators have powerfully interrogated public monuments to historical figures who benefitted from and advocated slavery and apartheid, leading to statues toppling on both sides of the Atlantic. In sum, memorials that were sites of amnesia and inattention for decades have become lightning rods for politics in the present. We take inspiration from the critical demands of this moment to pose a timely provocation: How can, and should, public forms of commemoration and memorialization proceed moving forward? While the anti-racist sentiments that have contributed to overturning statues are beyond reproach, the politics of monumentalization becomes murkier when the historical valences of a monument multiply.

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