Public Monuments – Contested Histories

History Council of Victoria: Making Public Histories Seminar Series

Societies have always used statues and other monuments as ways of both recognising and contesting power and eminence. In Australia, as everywhere else, there is public debate over whether and which statues should be removed, who should make the decision, and what should be the fate of the statues themselves. Should new monuments be commissioned alongside or to replace them? Recent actions in Australia to remove, replace or protect statues and other public markers have historical precedents which have much to tell us. Speakers at this webinar will present insights and case studies from Australia, Europe, and elsewhere.

The topics and their presenters are:

  • Revolutions and ‘patrimonial panics’ in France
    Peter McPhee AM is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne and Chair of the History Council of Victoria.
  • Contextualising relocated monuments: lessons from three post-Soviet statue parks
    Claire Baxter holds a Master of Conflict Archaeology & Heritage from the University of Glasgow.
  • First Peoples’ perspectives in contextualising contested histories
    John Patten is a Bundjalung-Yorta Yorta man on his father’s side, and a descendant of First Fleet convicts, Irish rebels and the Saami people of Lapland via his mother. He is Manager, Diversity and Belonging, Museums Victoria, and a Board member of the History Council of Victoria.
  • Missing monuments: imagining the future of Australian public memorialisation
    Dr Yves Rees is a lecturer in History at La Trobe University, a regular contributor to ABC Radio Melbourne and a Board member of the History Council of Victoria.

Professor Al Thomson, Monash University, will facilitate the discussion.


When: Tuesday 14 July 2020, 5pm – 6.30pm
Where: Zoom Webinar

Updated 16 July 2020: This event was recorded and can be watched HERE.

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