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Spring 2024


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New in Monument Lab
An Excerpt from The Everyday Life of Memorials

Featured in the latest Monument Lab Bulletin, read an excerpt from The Everyday Life of Memorials by Andrew Shanken. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full piece. An excerpt appears below:

“Where memorials have landed is as invented as modern memorials themselves. In addition to cemeteries and parks, they are commonly erected in front of civic buildings and appear where street patterns leave spare spaces. This stands to reason: these are the principal public spaces in towns and cities. They are also spaces where institutions border on and push back against the market, or, just as frequently, where capitalism’s claims are weaker, those places of noncommercial transaction, the urban leftovers that improvers of cities sought to beautify. Such habits of placement are curious because these sites of commemoration collide with landscapes that serve some other purpose or no official purpose at all. When memorials have no intrinsic relationship to their site, it changes their meaning and frees them to interact with their context differently. This could be insidious, as when towns in the American South placed Confederate monuments in front of courthouses to bolster racist ideology with the false authority of the law. The sculpted soldier on his high plinth, sometimes with gun in hand, standing in front of hall of judgment, planted a grave warning in places pushing to roll back the freedoms of Black people in the South. Even when the place of memorials is more innocent or expedient, it is still saturated with significance.”