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Disputed Monuments, Honorees, and Symbols on Campus

February 10, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Since 2015, students, faculty, and staff have openly expressed their displeasure with controversial memorials on campus. In South Africa student defacement of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at University of Cape Town sparked the national “Fallist” (#Rhodes Must Fall, #Fees Must Fall) decolonization movement. In the US, dozens of memorials to Confederate soldiers, colonizers, slaveholders, and Ku Klux Klan leaders were removed, and hundreds more disputed. In Canada, Ryerson University made the courageous decision to change the university’s name and Dalhousie University and Wilfred Laurier University are problematizing the unvarnished images of the figures after which they are named. Disputing memorials – statues, building names, honorifics, and monuments – is increasingly seen as crucial activism for improving campus climate and diversity in the community.
This panel will explore the politics of memorials and naming of institutions in Canada and beyond, from Ainsley Carry’s 2021 book on disputed memorials at 25 US colleges and through Catherine Ellis’ work on the Standing Strong Task Force at Ryerson University, to Tonya Davidson’s studies of the social lives of statues in Ottawa. The panel will be chaired by Handel Wright who has worked on South Africa’s “Fallist” Movement.