(Photo: “Robert E. Lee Monument” by Joseph / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

Lesson #1 — The Roles of Law and Civil Religion in the Removal of Confederate Statues in the USA

Summary: This video introduces the research question and provides a brief history of slavery in the USA. It then focuses on Confederate monuments: why, how, when, where and by whom were these monuments created? The statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia is presented as case study and the protests, relevant legislation, ownership, and its subsequent removal are briefly described.

Reflection and Discussion Questions:

  1. Can you identify a contentious monument in a public space in your hometown or city? Is that monument still there or has it been removed? How, why, where and by whom was this monument created and/or removed?
  2. What should replace a contentious monument once it has been removed? Should it be replaced with another memorial or monument, or should the space be left empty as a reminder of its absence?
  3. “Cancel culture” and “identity politics” are contemporary terms that can be applied to contentious monuments in the USA. Do you believe our contested past should have a future?