American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Monuments As: History, Art, Power

Published November 7, 2018

In this four-speaker panel, professors, artists, and activists delve into the ongoing re-evaluation of public monuments and memorials, particularly those in New York City (NYC). Dr. Harriet Senie, professor of art history at The Graduate Center CUNY, offers insights into the decision making process of the 2017 Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, an initiative convened to advise NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio about controversial monuments and markers on city-owned land.  Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, professor of history at Queens College CUNY, details the work of J. Marion Sims, who developed gynecological procedures by practicing on the bodies of enslaved black women.  Marina Ortiz, activist and founder of East Harlem Preservation, discusses the decades-long fight to remove an East Harlem statue of Sims.  Francheska Alcantara, artist and activist, explores the ways in which art can and should engage social protest.  

This panel took place on June 13, 2018, as the first program in the series “Difficult Histories/Public Spaces: The Challenge of Monuments in New York City and the Nation,” sponsored by the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, The Gotham Center for New York City History, and the CUNY Public History Collective.  The series is supported by a grant from Humanities New York and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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