The Confederate Commemorative Landscape: Its Establishment, Revisions, and Future

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:00 AM
Thurgood Marshall North (Marriott Wardman Park)
W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Beginning in Selma, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee more than a decade ago and cresting during the summer of 2017, efforts to remove statues commemorating Confederates have sparked controversy and violence, bafflement and introspection. My paper will offer a brief survey of the groups that created the Confederate commemorative landscape in the United States that has recently been the focus of controversy. My paper will discuss their aims and the scope of their accomplishment (both in terms of geographical distribution and forms of commemoration). My paper also will highlight the “normalization” of this Confederate commemorative landscape and the myriad ways in which it was altered, revised, and ignored without controversy between the 1930s and 1970s. I will close by briefly discussing recent efforts to revise the landscape and countervailing recent efforts to prevent the “erasure” of Confederate commemoration. These debates have been informed by the past episodes of iconoclasm that the other panelists will discuss. In my conclusion I will underscore the care that needs to be taken when comparing the contemporary debate over the Confederate landscape with past episodes of iconoclasm.
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