In Whose Honor? On Monuments, Public Spaces, Historical Narratives, and Memory

TitleIn Whose Honor? On Monuments, Public Spaces, Historical Narratives, and Memory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSaul, GW, Marsh, DE
JournalMuseum Anthropology

Recent organized protests have incurred outrage over monuments commemorating Confederate military leaders; in some cities, such as Baltimore, statues of Confederate military leaders have been removed overnight. In this context of charged public discourse, we ask: Does the immediate removal of these statues and monuments truly change the representation of histories and heritage? This expanded commentary, emanating from a Late‐Breaking Roundtable Session at the American Anthropological Association's 2017 annual meeting, is a discussion of the nuances and more obvious manipulations of power exercised through public spaces, representations, place names, and the production of historical narratives embedded in material forms of cultural memory. Research in the field of museum anthropology offers analysis pertinent to this subject, as well as intentioned practices to support communities addressing the violences, disparities, and racisms embedded in American history, and its material forms of cultural memory. In organizing the session, we suggested participants might explore the significance of “dissonant” or “negative” heritage; the narratives, counternarratives, and contestations highlighted in these controversies; or offer comparative perspectives from contexts other than the United States. [public spaces, historical narratives, heritage, representation, museums, Confederate monuments and statues]

Short TitleMus Anthropol