All Monuments Must Fall: A Syllabus


[Download a PDF of the Syllabus Here]

“Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city’s throat”
–Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead

“The magnificent light in Courbet’s
paintings is for me that of the place Vendome,
at the hour when the column fell.”
–André Breton, Nadja


Welcome! This is a crowd-sourced assemblage of materials relating to Confederate and other racist monuments to white supremacy; the history and theory of these monuments and monuments in general; and monument struggles worldwide. It was inspired by the resistance to fascism demonstrated at Charlottesville, Va. and Durham, NC in August 2017. It recognizes that resistance to such monuments to white supremacy already had a long history by 1865 in the genocide of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. The resistance to the form of white supremacy symbolized by the Confederacy began with African Americans, abolitionists and feminists at the time of their construction. This syllabus hopes only to add to that tradition until all the monuments have fallen. We posted a call online and have added everything that came in. There’s much more out there, we know.

What we have perhaps all learned in the days following Charlottesville is how much the anti-fascist activism there has created new histories, as movements do. And so it brings far more questions than answers, which these materials can help to resolve. While this moment in US politics may or may not persist, everything here indicates that the falling monument is a strategic way to interrogate and interpret white supremacy.

The materials are arranged in a series of sub-heads in a descriptive rather than theoretical fashion. Numerous people have worked on this document, just as so many people kindly sent in ideas. We encourage any reader(s) to use this as they will, to hack and cut-and-paste as they see fit.

Please do send any additional materials to


1. Monumental Theory

I. Key Texts

Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Whose culture is it, anyway?” in Cosmopolitanism
Madeline H. Caviness (2003), “Iconoclasm and Iconophobia: Four Historical Case Studies,” Diogenes 50(3): 99–114
Hugh Gusterson (2017), “Reconsidering How We Honor Those Lost to War,”
Huyssen, Andreas. “Monument and memory in a postmodern age.” The Yale Journal of Criticism 6.2 (1993): 249.
Jessica Namakkal, “Renaming as Decolonization”
WJT Mitchell “What Do Monuments Want?” and Michael Taussig “Monuments Must Do Better” from “Monuments, Monumentality, Monumentalization” at DIA
Adrian Parr, “Deleuze and Memorial Culture” (2008)
John Peffer “Censorship and Iconoclasm: Unsettling Monuments” RES 48 (2005): 45-60.
Francoise Choay, The Invention of the Historic Monument. (Monument and Historic Monuments; The Concept of the Historic Monuments as Such.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001
Kristin Ross, The Emergence of Social Space (1988)
Andrew Culp, “A Radical Cartography: Spatializing Power,”
Bhakti Shringarpure, “Swarm, Demolish, Destroy: Rage Against the Monuments from Mali to Martinique, The Funambulist 11 (2017).
Simon Sheikh, “Planes of immanence, or The form of ideas: Notes on the (anti-)Monuments of Thomas Hirschhorn,” Afterall vol. 9 (2004)
Social Justice and Museums Resource List
Michael Taussig, Defacement (Stanford, 1999)
Sergiusz Michalski, Public Monuments: Art in Political Bondage 1870-1997. London: Reaktion books, 1998.
Robert S. Nelson and Margaret Olin, Monuments and memory, made and unmade (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)

II. Monuments and Nationalism

Deborah Bright, “Victory Gardens: The Public Landscape of Postwar America.” Multiple Views: Logan Grant Essays on Photography, 1983-89, Daniel P. Younger, ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991, 329-361.
Micki McElya, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016)

III. Background

Sanford Levinson, “Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies” (Duke UP, 1998)
Kenneth Gross, “The Dream of the Moving Statue” (Penn State University Press, 1992)
Kim Dovey, “Framing Places: Mediating Power in Built Form” (Psychology Press, 1999)
Robert Bevan, “The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War” (London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2016)

2. Confederate Monuments

I. 2017: Monuments Fall

a. Charlottesville

Bree Newsome, “Go ahead, topple the monuments. All of them,” Washington Post.
On the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville
Nicholas Mirzoeff, “All the Monuments Must Fall #Charlottesville”
L.V. Anderson, “Does Charlottesville Mark A Turning Point For Confederate Monuments In America?”
Josh Marshall, “Some Thoughts on Public Memory,” TPM 14 August 2017
Summary video for teaching:
Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor, “No More Charlottesvilles,” Jacobin
Links to responses by historians:

b. United States

Rebecca Solnit on removing monuments in New Orleans
Arizona Confederate monuments:
On Durham and the McNeel Marble Co: Stassa Edwards, “Confederate Monuments
Aren’t History, They’re a Cheap Cultural Memory”Jezebel
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.
David A. Graham (2016) “The Stubborn Persistence of Confederate Monuments,”

II. World views and parallels

James Glaser, “What to do with Confederate Statues?” (comparison with Russia) The Conversation
Canadian view: (In French, obviously)
Joel McKim (UK) “Yes, the Monuments Should Fall,”
Collection of original documents on the Baltimore Stonewall Jackson monument that was taken down assembled by Ken Ehrlich
Uganda statue “disappears” (2012):

III. Background histories

Kirk Savage, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves.
Dell Upton, Chapter One, What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift and Monument Building in the Contemporary South
Grace E. Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940
James W. Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (1999)

IV. Women and the United Daughters of the Confederacy

Tracy Thompson, “The South Still Lies About the Civil War,” Salon (2013)
Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson, eds., Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003).
Caroline E. Janney, Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause
Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s daughters the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the preservation of Confederate culture

IV. Where are the Monuments?

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy,”
Database of North Carolina Confederate Memorials:
List of Confederate monuments on public land:
Historical Marker Database Civil War Monuments:
Animated map of all Confederate monuments over time:

V. Public discourse about the monuments

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech regarding New Orleans’s removal of monuments:
Descendent of Lee says it’s time for his ancestor’s statues to come down:

3. Indigenous Monuments and Memorials

I. Histories

Keith Camacho, Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War, Memory, and History in the Mariana Islands (U Hawai’i P, 2011)
Michael A. Elliott (ed.), Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and
George Armstrong Custer (U Chicago, 2008).

II. Sam Durant’s Scaffold (2017)

Olga Viso, “Learning in Public: An Open Letter about Sam Durant’s Scaffold”
“Native American Artists Respond.” Art News.
Sam Durant interview.
Report in Hyperallergic

III. Decolonizing Memory

Matthew Irwin, “Native American Students Fight to Remove Colonial Imagery from University of New Mexico,” (2016)
Ginger Thompson, “ As a Sculpture Takes Shape in Mexico, Opposition Takes Shape in the U.S.” (2002)

IV. Indigenous Memory

Nicholas A. Browne and Sarah E. Kanouse (eds), Re-Collecting Black Hawk: Landscape, Memory, and Power in the American Midwest (U Pittsburgh P, 2015
Andrew Denson, Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory
Michael Trujullo, “Onate’s Foot, Remembering and Dismembering in Northern New Mexico,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 33:2 Fall 2008
Tonya Davidson “Narratives of National Belonging at Ottawa Monuments: The Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and Enclave: The Women’s Monument” Topia 36

4. Queering the Monument

John Q “an idea collective interested in public scholarship, interventions, and Memory.”
Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, Joey Orr, “Discursive Memorials: Queer Histories in Atlanta’s Public Spaces” (2010)
John Q, “The Campaign for Atlanta: An Act of Research,” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking 1.2 (2014): 15–37.
Erik N. Jensen, “The Pink Triangle and Political Consciousness: Gays, Lesbians, and the Memory of Nazi Persecution,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 11.1 and 2 (2002) 319-349
The Names Project — AIDS Memorial Quilt
Charles Morris III, Remembering the AIDS Quilt. Michigan State University Press, 2011

5. Rhodes Must Fall/ Fees Must Fall/Decolonize the Curriculum: South Africa

Achille Mbembe “Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive” (2015)
RMF in Conversation with Achille Mbembe PART 1 filmed by Wandile Kasibe
Francis B. Nyamnjoh, #RhodesMustFall. Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa (Langaa RPCIG, 2016)
The People vs The Rainbow Nation (2016)
Attack on Sarah Baartman monument:
Cynthia Kros, “Rhodes Must Fall: archives and counter-archives,” Critical Arts Vol. 29, 2015
Brenda Schmahmann, “The Fall of Rhodes: The Removal of a Sculpture from the University of Cape Town,” Public Art Dialogue (2016) 6:1, 90-115
Metalepsis in Black (2016)
Jess Auerbach, “What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonize social sciences,”
Susan Booysen (ed.), Fees Must Fall, (Johannesburg: Wits UP, 2016)/
Brian Kamanzi, “Decolonizing the Curriculum: the silent war for tomorrow,”
Talya Lubinski, “If we burn, there is ash,” exhibition at Wits University, South Africa,

6. French Revolution

Erika Naginsky, “The Object of Contempt,” Yale French Studies no. 101 (2001): 32-53.
Stanley J. Idzerda, “Iconoclasm during the French Revolution,” The American Historical Review 60, 1 (1954): 13-26.
Todd Porterfield, “The Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde,” in The Allure of Empire: Art in the Service of French Imperialism 1798-1836.

7. Situationism

Guy Debord, “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography” (1955),
Gil Wolman and Guy Debord “User’s Guide to Détournement” (1956)
McKenzie Wark, The Spectacle of Disintegration (New York: Verso, 2013).

8. Monumental Histories

Robert S Nelson, Margaret Olin “Monuments and Memory, Made and Unmade” (2003)
Dario Gamboni, “Image to Destroy, Indestructible Image” (2002)
Robert Musil “Monuments”
Thomas Stubblefield “Lights, Camera, Iconoclasm: How Do Monuments Die and Live to Tell about It?” (2014) & “Do Disappearing Monuments Simply Disappear? The Counter-Monument in Revision” (2011)
Marita Sturken, “The Wall and Screen Memory” in Tangled Memories (UC Press, 1997), on Vietnam Veterans Memorial

9. Monuments Fall in the Soviet Bloc

Edit Andras, “Public Monuments in Changing Societies,” ARS (43) 2010
Collection of photos of fallen monuments:
Edit András – “Vigorous Flagging in the Heart of Europe: The Hungarian Homeland under the Right-Wing Regime” e-flux journal 53
Kristina Norman, “After War,”
Albert Boime, “Perestroika and the Destabilization of the Soviet Monuments,” ARS, 1995.
Dario Gamboni, “The Fall of ‘Communist Monuments’” in The Destruction of Art (Yale, 1997)
Katherine Verdery, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Postsocialist Change. New York, Columbia University Press

10. Films on and about the Fall of the Monument

Laura Mulvey “Disgraced Monuments” (1994)
Filipa César, Cacheu (2012)
Eisenstein, opening sequence of October
“Sikitiko” (2010), a prize-winning short Dutch film about actions against a statue of Leopold II (of Belgium, colonial ruler of Congo)
Sandra de la Loza, “Fort Moore: Living Monument,”
Vice documentary on Charlottesville (caution: offensive material)
Theo Eshetu, “The Return of the Axum Obelisk” (2009),

11. African American Monuments

K Sue Jewel, From Mammy to Miss America and Beyond: Cultural Images and the Shaping of US Social Policy
“The Mammy Washington Almost Had,”
Renée Ater , “Slavery and Its Memory in Public Monuments,” American Art 24, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 20-23.
Aleia Browne and Adrianne Russell, “Museums and #BlackLivesMatter,”
Aleia Brown , Adrianne Russell  “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest,” The Incluseum (2015),
La Toya Ruby Frazier, Carrie Mae Weems and Sarah Lewis, “Vision and Justice in Racialized America,” video of panel discussion
Equal Justice Initiative, “National Lynching Memorial,”
Samuel Sinyangwe, “I’m a black Southerner. I had to go abroad to see a statue celebrating black liberation,” Vox
Elizabeth Yeoman, “Je Me Souviens:: About the St. Armand Slave Cemetery, Memory, Counter-Memory and Historic Trauma. TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies #12, 2004.

12. European and U.K. Contexts

Hans Haacke at the German Bundestag:
Engels Statue in Manchester:
London’s “Murder Mile” of imperialist statues:
“Hands Of(f) Congo” about actions against Leopold II statues:
NYT: Franco Took Decades to Leave the World Stage. His Statue? Only Days.
Barcelona topples the final reminder of Franco’s regime
Spain’s monument to Franco: A divisive reminder
Erasing Franco’s memory one street at a time

13. Central/South Asian Contexts

Finbarr Barry Flood, “Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm, and the Museum,” 84, 4 (2002): 641-659.
Sushil Srivastava, “The Abuse of History: A Study of the White Papers on Ayodhya,” Social Scientist 22, 5/6 (1994): 39-51.
Why the Battle for India’s Past is a Fight for Its Future:
Equestrian memorial of King Edward removed in Delhi:

14. Middle Eastern / North African / Iraqi Contexts

Mada Masr: Tahrir monument met with skepticism
Guardian: “Tahrir Square memorial is attempt to co-opt revolution, say Egypt activists”
NYT “Egyptian Protesters Destroy Tahrir Square Monument Erected by Interim Government” (2013)
Failed Architecture: Erasing the Remnants of a Revolution
The Telegraph: Libyan protesters destroy Gaddafi monument
Protesters destroy Hafez al-Assad statue in Suwayda
Jadaliyya: Recalling the Past: The Battle over History, Collective Memory and Memorialization in Egypt
Netanyahu Toppled: Golden Statue of PM Taken Down by Israelis
Max Fisher, “The Truth About Iconic 2003 Saddam Statue-Toppling,”
Fred Bohrer, “The Destruction of Art and Antiquities in Our Time,”
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi (2007), “The Legacy of Sabra and Shatila,” Electronic Intifada

15. Artist’s Projects, Ephemeral Memorials, and Anti-Memorials

Raphael Lozano-Hemmer “Voz Alta”–ephemeral memorial for the student massacre in Tlatelolco, Mexico 1968,
Invisible Monument, “an ongoing series of contributory audioscapes where social movements started and changed history,”
Joseph DeLappe, The 1,000 Drones — A Participatory Memorial, 2014
Joseph DeLappe, The Drone Project, 2014
Yvevgeniy Fiks, Monument to Cold War Victory, 2014
Wafaa Bilal, and Counting…, 2010
Sophie Calle “The Detachment” (artist project) 1996
On Bryan C Lee’s Paper Monuments:
Amina Menia, Enclosed, 2012 (a documentation of M’hamed Issiakhem’s 1978 “enclosing” of the ‘Monument to the Dead’ in Algiers, made in 1928 by French sculptor Paul Landowski)
Hassan Darsi, Le Point Zéro, 2014 (in Charleville-Mézières, France, Moroccan artist Hassan Darsi hides the statue of Charles de Gonzague, the city’s founder, inside a goldleaf-covered case)