"Who Will Write Our History? Truth, Justice, and Public Memorials"




When protesters in support of Black Lives Matter toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into Bristol Harbour in the summer of 2020, their actions represented the latest move in a remarkable shift in global memory culture: For nearly a century, victims and opponents of genocide, political persecution, and imperial exploitation have made increasingly successful demands for space in the public sphere to tell their stories. Our seminar will explore how various stakeholders have reshaped the ways that communities encounter histories of violence. We’ll track how the definition of what counts as a monument and which groups are worthy of remembrance are changing around the globe. In each seminar meeting, students will compare primary materials that raise foundational questions about history and its memorialization, including monument designs, personal testimonies, trial transcripts, photography, and museum collections.