AHRC-Labex PasP : Histoires contestées
21 Mai 2021


In recent years, physical sites of collective memory or national commemoration in the UK and France have come under increasing scrutiny for their celebration of violent pasts which no longer represents the diverse and multicultural contemporary societies of these former imperial powers.

This workshop seeks to further consider public historic and heritage sites within current debates on the relationship between the past and present by addressing the questions below:

• Are public historic and heritage sites a physical manifestation of national memory and identity? What is their significance and for whom? Whose voices are heard and/or should be heard? How do we navigate through emotive subject matter to reach a place of collective healing?

• How do we move beyond a focus on the physical to confront the intangible legacies of colonialism? Are the ‘culture wars’ surrounding contentious public statues/memorials merely a manifestation of deeper ingrained and historic societal issues?

• What and who are statues for? Do statues say more about the society that erected them than the people they commemorate?

• To what extent should the urban landscape belong to the sensibilities of the present?

• What are the challenges of preserving our material inheritance when that inheritance does not represent increasingly diverse society?

• Can memorialisation ever capture broader historical forces? Or does it simply trap us in the morality and deeds of white military men?

• How far has the controversy over statues and the built environment enabled new conversations about the contentious aspects of colonial pasts?

• What does it mean to take responsibility for the past? Can the past furnish us with moral obligations? 




14:00 | Welcome and Opening Remarks


14:10 | Presentations by Speakers:

Prof. Olivette Otele (University of Bristol)
Prof. Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool)
Dr Armelle Enders (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
Dr Daniel Foliard (Université Paris Nanterre)


14:50 | Responses from Chairs:

Prof. Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes (Université Paris Nanterre)
Prof. Philippa Levine (University of Oxford)
Prof. Andrew Thompson (University of Oxford)


15:05 Comfort Break (5 minutes)


15:10 | Return for Group Discussions


15:55 | Closing Remarks and Reflections