Registration Opens for Contested Histories: Creating and Critiquing Public Monuments and Memorials in a New Age of Iconoclasm

Received from Dr. Simon John (Swansea University)

Contested Histories: Creating and Critiquing Public Monuments and Memorials in a New Age of Iconoclasm is a workshop which will be hosted by the Swansea University Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory (CRAM) Research Group on 28th and 29th June 2021, online via Zoom


This event, organised by Swansea University’s Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory Research Group, will explore debates surrounding the cultural and political uses of monuments, reflecting upon their role in the memorialisation and imagining of the past. It takes a broad view of ‘monuments’, considering artefacts such as war memorials, cenotaphs and public statuary as well as urban sites damaged through war, or locations hallowed through their connection to pivotal events in the past. Initially planned for summer 2020 but postponed due to COVID-19, the workshop draws inspiration from contemporary debates energised by movements such as ‘Rhodes Must Fall’, Decolonizing the University, and campaigns against Confederate monuments in the USA. This event aims to contribute to these dialogues by fostering academic critiques of past uses of monuments and statues, whilst simultaneously engaging with present-day issues. Attendees will hear from academic speakers as well as practitioners who are (or have been) involved in modern-day campaigns to commission, design, or remove monuments. In this way, the workshop brings together theory and practice in a unique manner.


The workshop will begin at 9.30BST on 28 June, and conclude around 18.00BST on 29 June. The first plenary session is a roundtable discussion, with contributions from Abu-Bakr Madden al Shabazz (Historian, Psychotherapist and Education Consultant), Ellie Grigsby (Historian and campaigner for the monument to facially-disfigured WW1 soldiers, installed in Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent [UK], 2019), Sokari Douglas Camp, CBE (Contemporary artist and sculptor), and Tessa Boase (Historian and campaigner for the creation of a monument to Royal Society for the Protection of Birds founder Emily Williamson in Didsbury, Manchester [UK]). The second plenary session will be a keynote paper by Stefan Goebel (University of Kent). Dr Goebel will speak on ‘Intersecting memories: memorialising two world wars’.

The full programme for the workshop can be found here.


Registration for the workshop is open via the Eventbrite page, which you can access here.


The organisers of the workshop (CRAM’s Tomás Irish and Simon John) can be contacted here.

Kindly supported by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust (in conjunction with the Elizabeth Barker Fund) and by the Past & Present Society and the Royal Historical Society.

Past & Present is pleased to support this event and supports other events like it. Applications for event funding are welcomed from scholars working in the field of historical studies at all stages in their careers.

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