Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies
Twenty years after Written in Stone was first published, the questions it asked are more relevant than ever. Is it Stalinist for a formerly communist country to tear down a statue of Stalin? Should the Confederate flag be allowed to fly over the South Carolina state capitol? Is it possible for America to honor General Custer and also the Sioux Nation, both Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln? Indeed, can a liberal, multicultural society memorialize anyone at all, or is it committed to a strict neutrality about the quality of the lives led by its citizens?
Levinson considers the tangled responses of ever-changing societies to their monuments, drawing on examples from Albania to Zimbabwe, Moscow to Managua. He looks at social and legal arguments regarding the display, construction, modification and destruction of public monuments. And he asks what kinds of claims the past has on the present, particularly if the present is defined in dramatic opposition to its past values. He also addresses how a culture might memorialize its historical figures and events in ways that are beneficial to all its members, adding a thoughtful and crucial voice into debates surrounding historical accuracy and representation.
The Commonwealth Club
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