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‘Monument Mania’? Public Space and the Black and Asian Presence in the London Landscape

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Abstract

Statues and monuments are not just a ghostly presence from the past in our public spaces. They have different meanings and significance in the present for different people. The prospect of the addition of a full-size bronze statue of Nelson Mandela to London’s statuary landscape2 and the temporary installation on the vacant fourth plinth of ‘Alison Lapper pregnant’ in Trafalgar Square proved too much for the graffiti writer or journalists working on the evening paper who contended that London was passing through a phase of politically correct ‘Monument Mania’ .3 The primary intention of this chapter is to investigate the role today of London’s statuary and monuments through the critical gaze of a public historian. In the heart of London, official imperial histories underwritten by the state have increasingly come to compete with the remembered pasts of minority communities. I argue that complex monuments and memorials that are focal sites of remembrance can become spaces in which entangled personal and national histories are contested. Such activity indicates a desire for a participatory historical culture.

Keywords

  • Public Space
  • Slave Trade
  • East India Company
  • British History
  • Symbolic Centre

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

What cheek! Mandella [sic] statue in Trafalgar Square. Who next? Hitler!1

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Notes

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© 2009 John Siblon

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Siblon, J. (2009). ‘Monument Mania’? Public Space and the Black and Asian Presence in the London Landscape. In: Ashton, P., Kean, H. (eds) People and their Pasts. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230234468_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230234468_9

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-36109-0

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