New Article on Confederate Monuments and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

figure 05Another one of my academic publications is finally seeing the light of day! In the latest issue of Public Art Dialogue, released over the weekend, you will find “From Spray Cans to Minivans: Contesting the Legacy of Confederate Soldier Monuments in the Era of ‘Black Lives Matter'”, an article I drafted last summer on the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments in the wake of the tragic shooting in Charleston. The article is part of a special issue of the journal titled “The Dilemma of Public Art’s Permanence,” organized and edited by Erika Doss to explore the afterlives of public artworks in a sphere of ever-changing public opinion. The special issue was inspired by a panel at the College Art Association in 2014, in which I participated. When the Charleston shooting brought the continuing existence of Confederate monuments to the forefront of public consciousness last summer, I already had the existence of this special issue on my radar, and I was grateful for the opportunity to think through some of the issues surrounding these memorials.

Here is the abstract for my article:

In the wake of the shooting of nine parishioners of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015, there have been calls to remove or reconsider monuments to the Confederacy in the United States. In addition, monuments have been targeted with graffiti linked to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In order to decide how to deal with these phenomena, communities must understand the link between Confederate symbols, America’s racial past, and the current epidemic of police violence against black Americans.

This essay will explore the history of Confederate monuments from the Civil War to the present, including the relationship between Confederate symbols and the most violent aspects of the struggle for civil rights for all Americans. The discussion will then turn toward Reidsville, North Carolina, where a freak traffic accident in 2011 toppled the local Confederate soldier monument and forced citizens to confront their relationship with Civil War history. In exploring the history of Confederate symbols and the ways in which one town reckoned with them in recent years, this essay will provide necessary guidance for individuals and communities grappling with the legacy of Confederate memory in the age of “Black Lives Matter.”

CLICK HERE to access the article if you have access to journals through an academic institution.

If you would like to read the article but do not have this sort of access, you’re in luck! Taylor and Francis has offered me 50 free eprints of the article, available for a limited time. To download one of these eprints, CLICK HERE.

Citation: Sarah Beetham, “From Spray Cans to Minivans: Contesting the Legacy of Confederate Soldier Monuments in the Era of ‘Black Lives Matter.’” Public Art Dialogue 6, no. 1 (2016): 9-33.

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