As sources of national memory and identity, public monuments, place names, historical markers, and other elements of commemorative landscapes are potential sites of cultural violence (e.g., alienation, disrespect, and erasure) contributing to broader conflict and inequality, and therefore important considerations in movements for equal opportunity and justice. Some contend that memory sites are "the new lunch counters," where our racial politics are worked out. This course examines the racial politics of commemorative objects and practices, and commemorative intervention as a strategy of anti-racist activism. We begin with an historical survey of various ways that racism has been inscribed on the commemorative landscape, and readings in history, political theory, cultural studies, and other fields to gain insight on these contested commemorative objects, their development, and social significance. We then turn to a critical assessment of efforts to remove and recontextualize commemorative objects, and to erect new objects commemorating neglected figures and issues. We consider how these reparative efforts relate to what political theorists call remedies of recognition, and specifically how they might aid in advancing equal opportunity and justice. Through our study and engagement with contested commemorative landscapes, including local, national, and global cases, students will become familiar with the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of memory studies, diverse forms and sites of commemoration, local and global efforts to advance what has been termed "commemorative justice," and challenges they face.
Course Attributes: EN H; FYS; BU BA; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC; FA CPSC