To unite or divide?

The Contested Histories Initiative studies disputes over statues, street names, and other historical legacies in public spaces with an aim to identify principles, processes and best practices for decision-makers, civil society advocates, and educators confronting the complexities of divisive historical memory.

Artistic Intervention

An effective remedy to a controversial statue or monument. Explore more remedies by clicking the button below.

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Statues, monuments, street names, and other markers project a collective historical memory on public spaces. Inclusive societies need commemorative landscapes that reflect the collective nature and values of the communities they serve.
The Contested Histories Initiative seeks practical remedies to contestations over historical markers in public spaces as part of broader efforts to create more inclusive and equitable societies, in particular for and with communities that have been marginalised or disenfranchised due to race, ethnicity, gender, or other affiliations.

Featured Cases

Statue of Lord Nelson with metal railings around it in Barbados
#11

Admiral Horatio Nelson Statue in Bridgetown

Barbados

Originally erected in 1813, the statue of British Colonial Admiral Horatio Nelson, enjoyed 206 years of undisturbed tenure in the… Read More

Statue of Lenin extending his hand surrounded by busts of Lenin on the ground at Grūto parkas in Lithuania
#96

Grūtas Sculpture Park in Druskininkai

Lithuania

The Grūtas Park was created to collect and display Soviet-era monuments that had been removed from public spaces following Lithuanian… Read More

Statue of emperor Napoleon's wife with head broken off in La Savane park on the French island of Martinique
#100

Statue of Joséphine de Beauharnais in Fort-de-France

Martinique

The statue of Napoleon’s first wife, first Empress of the French, lingered beheaded in Martinique, one of the remaining overseas… Read More

One of the blood river monuments, framed by the sky, features an open stone wagon as an entry.
#141

Ncome and Blood River Monuments on Ncombe River in Nquthu-Dundee

South Africa

On the 16th of December 1838 the infamous Battle of Blood River on the banks of the Ncome River between… Read More

Full shot view of Christopher Columbus Statue in Parque Colón, taken from the street with plaque visible
#4

Columbus Monument in Buenos Aires

Argentina

The Monument to Christopher Columbus has caused great controversy as part of the heritage and historical memory of Argentina. Opinions… Read More

Statue in Peru of circles of pebbles in the middle of park with hunched figure in centre.
#123

The Eye that Cries Memorial in Lima

Peru

The Eye that Cries commemorates all victims of Peru’s two-decade-long internal conflict, regardless of political affiliation. In 2006, the Inter-American… Read More

Recent Stories

Bremen’s Elefant: Memorialisation, politics, and memory surrounding German colonialism

In 1932, German citizens gathered for the dedication of the Kolonialelefant in Bremen. The Bremen Colonial Society created this… Read More

A statue of a Black woman with her fist raised had been hoisted to replace the confederate statue previously there, but would eventually be brought down by counter protestors.

Subverting the Historical Narrative: The Future of the Counter-Monument

‘Honor history.’ Those were the words graffitied beside a toppled Madre Luz – or “Mother Light” – in Wyman Park… Read More

Bronze Statue of Jan Smuts at the UK Parliment

#SmutsMustFall: The Forgotten Battle to Counter the Legacy of one of Apartheid’s Most Prominent Architects

‘Churchill was a racist,’ read the hastily-daubed paint on the bottom of Parliament Square’s towering effigy to one of Britain’s… Read More

FAQs

What do the #’s mean?

The #’s are unique identifiers for our Case Studies. As a case is identified and added to our Cases List, it is assigned a number. Stories and Resources relating to a case are also tagged with the Case #.

Can I download the Cases List?

Yes! Click ‘Map’ in the menu and scroll down. You can fill out a form to download the Cases List.

I know of a case that is not on your list, how can it be added?

Submit potential new cases using the contact form on the Get Involved page. Remember to also share a news article and image if available.

What is the purpose of this project?

To study disputes over statues, street names, and other historical legacies in public spaces with an aim to identify principles, processes and best practices for decision-makers, civil society advocates, and educators confronting the complexities of divisive historical memory.