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Monuments are a phenomenon as ancient as historical communities. Etched in stone or other material, resistant to the passage of time, they were made to preserve a memory. Placed on pedestals, plinths, or columns, they were intended to ensure the visibility of those events, persons, or ideas that had obtained social recognition.
Since very ancient times what has been thought most worthy of commemoration has been a military victory, a leader triumphing over an enemy, trampling a defeated opponent, or a pharaoh, a Caesar, a king bringing salvation to the community. The image of a triumphal leader has an outstanding political aim: to communicate the legitimacy of his rule.
Beginning in the times of the French Revolution, a certain fundamental change has occurred in this area: monuments began to be raised to persons or events that previously had been less visible – the victims of wars and other conflicts, or of mass tragedies. In uncounted cities the “grave of the unknown soldier” began to appear as a place for remembering the fallen, a monument to the nation’s suffering. These monuments form an element of a broader phenomenon, the “political cult of the victim” (Koselleck), which changes the fallen into a political tool.
It was not solely reformative and revolutionary iconoclasm that proved monuments are able to evoke extreme emotions and serious disputes; monuments are sometimes attacked and destroyed. At the same time, the majority of them are increasingly becoming overlooked as minor architectural elements. It is not without reason that Robert Musil arrived at the conclusion that “there is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument.”
State of Affairs would like to invite you to reflect on monuments. We encourage you to send proposals concerning the following topics:
/// Please send submissions containing a title, an abstract of not more than 500 words, and the author’s first and last name, institutional affiliation, and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 January 2020.
/// Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be sent by the end of January 2020.
/// The authors of the accepted abstracts will be asked to submit articles of a size not exceeding 60,000 characters by the end of September 2020.
/// The issue on monuments is expected to appear in the first half of 2021.
/// Questions should be directed to Dr. Robert Pawlik, lead editor of the issue (email@example.com).