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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

The Department of Sociology Fall 2023 Colloquium Series Presents: Dr. Heather O'Connell

Thursday, November 9, 2023 | 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

Seigle Hall, L004
Harry & Susan Seigle Hall

Colloquia Title and Topic:

“Confederate Monuments and Racism: Historical and Contemporary Relationships"

I combine several of my projects related to Confederate monuments in this presentation. Broadly, I aim to advance knowledge regarding the relationship between place and racial inequality through attention to a contentious public symbol, i.e., public monuments dedicated to the Confederacy. I provide a foundation for understanding Confederate monuments through my description of key characteristics (i.e., location, timing, and inscription) and historical research on the factors associated with their construction. There is remarkable variation in the characteristics associated with Confederate monuments, even when focusing exclusively on the US South. Moreover, I find that this variation is associated with factors suggesting the role of structural racism in supporting their development. Confederate monuments were part of a larger “memory movement,” and this movement was strongly related to the racial hierarchy within a county in addition to indicators of racial threat in the 1960s. I close my discussion by considering whether this history of racism translates into stronger contemporary expressions of anti-Black attitudes among non-Hispanic Whites in the US South. The history of place is critical to understanding contemporary (racialized) dynamics. I extend perspectives that have focused on slavery and lynching to include the history of monuments and invite a more critical view of the symbols that cover the US public landscape.


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Speaker Information
On Thursday, November 9, 2023, the Sociology Colloquium Series will feature Dr. Heather O'Connell. Dr. O'Connell graduated with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at Louisiana State University. Her research centers on understanding race and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. While pursuing this objective, she has given notable attention to the enduring structural consequences of historical institutions, particularly slavery and, most recently, public Confederate monuments.
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