Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) NUBS 4.25
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.22. Interrogating memoryscapes NUBS 4.25 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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“It was to show what people could do if they wanted to”: The struggles over empty plinth– in the aftermath of statue-toppling in Bristol and New Orleans.
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
During May and June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, dozens of monuments were toppled or removed worldwide. This wave of Fallism – the process of contesting and removing contentious monuments – created a symbolic void in the form of empty plinths. While there have been sustained discussions on the merit and meaning of removing statues, this paper examines an underexplored angle: what happens to the empty plinth in the aftermath of removals. Moreover, it aims to understand what we can learn from the struggles over these newly empty spaces about the memory activism which underpin Fallism or is triggered by it. Based on field research in Bristol, England, and New Orleans, this paper will explore how various interventions on the empty plinth of Edward Colston's statue, which was toppled during the BLM protests in 2020, and the empty pedestals of Confederate monuments removed in 2017 in New Orleans, became emblematic to the local politics surrounding the removed monuments. 
In Bristol, where the toppling of Edward Colston's statue was spontaneous, its empty plinth immediately became a platform for public debates created by various actors who reclaimed and altered it. Some interventions directly regarded the removal of Colston. Others have exploited the empty plinth's newly regained visibility to promote their specific causes seemingly unrelated to Colston. At the same time, the absence of Colston turned into an opportunity for democratization and engagement with Bristol's painful past. As Lawrence Hoo, a local artist and activist said, "it was to show what people could do if they wanted to." 
In New Orleans, where the removal of Confederate monuments has gone through a political process and public debate by the city and Louisiana state's institutions (e.g., city council, courts, and state senate), the varied interactions with empty pedestals focused on countering the Lost Cause narrative. Moreover, the empty plinths also provided a space to question and challenge the city's commemorative landscape and the role of the pedestals as a place that hosts monumentality.
Based on these comparative case studies, this paper will suggest reviewing Fallism from a broader perspective beyond the act of removal. Both case studies demonstrate how Fallism is a continuous process affected by the nature of the removal – top-down or bottom-up - which enables us to expose new meanings behind different demands to remove contentious monuments and offer a more nuanced outlook into local politics and power struggles. Moreover, both cases show that what appears to be an empty space is, in fact, a space that is constantly filled with new competitive meanings.
Presenters
CW
Carmit Wolberg
Ph.D. Candidate, Department Of Politics And Government , Ben Gurion University
The Saffronisation of National Memory: A Study of Contemporary Public Art in India
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
The use of public art, by the state, to instill a feeling of belongingness among the citizens is well accounted for. Political regimes have always repeatedly made symbolic use of the physical environment (Vale, 3). Non-authoritarian means such as parades, statues, and other forms of public art have played a key-role in establishing a feeling of belongingness in the nation, among its people. In India, social, political, and symbolic upheavals manifest themselves through claims over public spaces (Jain, 81). This study of visual culture continues to play a key-role in understanding this struggle for visibility. The "visual"not only acts as a pedagogical tool, but is also a representation of the connection of the people to the nation. This is in-line with Pierre Nora's argument that these realms of memory thrived because they succeed in connecting individuals to the nation (Bodnar, 953).
Contemporary India has seen an emergence of religious iconography that links itself to the spectacle of nationalism. It is essential to study how this conceptualisation of this Indian nation attempts to erase the presence of minority groups from its national memory. This conceptualisation is not only done with the state's active involvement in construction of temples and statues in disputed sites, but also through religious processions. With narratives through different mediums that stress on a long-lost Hindu heritage, there is an active erasure and other-ing of minorities like Muslims and Dalits. This paper argues that national memory, which evolved from democratic ideals into patriotism, has now become heavily religious, in the case of India. The lines between Indian and Hindu are constantly blurred through these narratives. It also attempts to validate a mythical past through a symbolic recalling of an age that exists only in mythology. The case in point being the repeated use of the Hindu god Ram.
This paper would focus on reading into public art including The Statue of Unity, expansion of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, and the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. It also attempts to explore the growing tourism circuits around these monuments with the incorporation of modern-day amenities like food courts, making these neo-spiritual spaces more attractive to the present-day consumer. 
Presenters
GR
Gokul R Menon
PhD Student, English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
The Afterlife of Lost Cause Monuments: Confederate Cemeteries as Heterotopian Counterpublic Memoryscapes
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
As American cities continue to confront legacies of slavery, racism, and discrimination, urban spaces remain potent memoryscapes of the Civil War and emancipation. The removal of Confederate monuments from public space represents a potential shift in public attitudes about the meaning of the American Civil War and the possible unmooring of the dominance of "Lost Cause" memory in public space. While there is much to celebrate, their removal also raises an important question: what should be done with them? This paper will explore the theoretical and practical implications of one common approach – (re)interment in Confederate cemeteries. Combining histories of the origins of the Lost Cause in Confederate cemeteries and the march of Confederate memory from the cemetery to public space in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; political theory on counterpublics and heterotopias; and contemporary examples of monument removals to Confederate cemeteries, this paper explores Confederate "Cities of the Dead" as power-filled memoryscapes and questions their role as appropriate sites for the (re)internment of Confederate monuments. Treating cemeteries as a combination of texts-a changing landscape and a product of the discourse of the monuments and memorials within it-this paper considers what the relocation of Confederate monuments to cemeteries says about the current state of the Lost Cause. Does relocation accomplish the burying of the Confederate past with the Confederate dead and the silencing of public Lost Cause memory? Is the removal of these monuments to the cemetery some form of purgatory: a spiritual death of the Confederate cause despite the continued physical existence of its formerly public markers? Or are we in effect facilitating the reincarnation of the Lost Cause by placing public monuments to the Confederacy in what were the original counterpublic spaces of the Lost Cause? As physical spaces that facilitated a defiant Confederate nationalism during Reconstruction, Confederate cemeteries were fashioned as intentionally oppositional spaces that helped shield overtly political memorial work and sustained Confederate memory until it's triumphant invasion of the public square. Michel Foucault's concept of heterotopias as spaces of refuge and Nancy Fraser and Michael Warner's theory of counterpublics as discursive arenas for the invention and circulation of counterdiscourses" are useful conceptual tools to understand how Confederate memoryscapes function in the past and present. I argue that the relocation of monuments to Confederate cemeteries represents both the inversion of the memory space of cemeteries and the development of new Lost Cause counterpublics to resist shifting attitudes on the public memory of the Confederacy.  Contemporary examples of monument removal to Confederate cemeteries illustrate the dangers of this approach and suggest that the struggle over the memory of the Civil War, and how our contestation of it in the present will be remembered, is not yet over.
Presenters
TC
Timothy Case
PhD Candidate, William & Mary
PhD Student
,
English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
PhD Candidate
,
William & Mary
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Politics and Government
,
Ben Gurion University
Associate Professor
,
University of Copenhagen
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