Defining “Context” in the Context of Confederate Monuments

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend watching the panel discussion about New Orleans and Confederate monuments that I took part in on Al Jazeera this past week. Little, if anything, of what I had to say will be surprising to those of you who  follow this blog. What I continue to think about is the interaction throughout the discussion between Terri Coleman, an activist in New Orleans and Professor Jonathan Zimmerman, from the University of Pennsylvania. [click to continue…]

Interviewed on Al Jazeera About Confederate Monuments

Yesterday I took part in a panel discussion about the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans on Al Jazeera’s, “The Stream.” It was a very lively discussion and I did my best to be heard. The other three panelists included a history professor from the University of Pennsylvania and two local activists in New Orleans. I especially enjoyed listening to Terri Coleman, who gave me a great deal to think about.

Thanks to Nur Nasreen at Al Jazeera for the invitation.

Introducing #NOLASyllabus

I have been blown away by the amount of thoughtful commentary that has come out over the past few weeks in response to the removal of monuments in New Orleans. It has been impossible to read them all. For a historian of Civil War memory I am hard pressed to find another period that has witnessed such an intense interest in Confederate monuments and their future in communities across the country.

With that in mind I have decided to undertake a little crowdsourcing project inspired by the success of #CharlestonSyllabus, which was organized by Kidada E. Williams, Keisha Blain, and Chad Williams. Their goal was to collect a wide range of resources to help the public better understand the the murder of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. That project ultimately resulted in a book by the same name.

I am calling this little project #NOLASyllabus and the goal is to collect as wide a range of resources to help teachers, students, and the general public better understand the history and memory of Confederate monuments in New Orleans and beyond as well as the broader debate.

I have yet to finalize the categories, but that will come with your participation. Feel free to offer any suggestions, especially sources that you believe should be included. Please think out of the box. You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below. On twitter you should (not surprisingly) use the hashtag #NOLASyllabus if you want to share suggestions there and please help me get the word out. The more people, the better.

You will find a link to the #NOLASyllabus list at the top of the page.

Interpreting Civil War Monuments: Further Reading

What follows is a short list of books for those of you who have been following the recent removal of monuments in New Orleans, as well as the broader debate, and are looking for suggestions for further reading.

This list includes titles that focus specifically on Civil War monuments, but also more broadly to include other periods in American history that have been memorialized as well as the international context.

This is certainly not intended as an exhaustive list. [click to continue…]

Can We Still Interpret NOLA’s Confederate Monuments?

I know that for some of my historian and public historian friends watching the city of New Orleans take down its Civil War/Reconstruction era monuments was not easy to watch. Our tendency is to treat monuments as artifacts and the broader landscape as an opportunity to learn about how communities remember their collective past. As someone who has used monuments extensively over the years I sympathize with this position. [click to continue…]