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The Historian's View.

May 7, 2018

After noticing this "unusual example of commemoration of the daily life of women in public spaces" in Dublin, historian Sophie Cooper reflected on the historical and social significance of public memorials. 

In the USA she noted that, similar to the situation in the UK, "According to the Smithsonian, only 10% of outdoor sculptures in the US portray women – and less than 2% of the National Park Service monuments"  Sophie's view on commemoration of women says that "While men who contribute to war are often commemorated with specificity and heroism, women are anonymous and usually placed in supporting roles, regardless of the role that they actually carry out at the war and home fronts. If women are only shown as victims and (helpless) wives/mothers/sisters/daughters of war compared to their brave and heroic husbands/fathers/brothers/sons, it can skew how people approach history and who they expect should write it".

image from Sophie Cooper's history blog

This is a line of thought interestingly discussed by Lori Holyfield and Clifford Beacham in their paper Memory Brokers, Shameful Pasts, and Civil War Commemoration which investigates  "The role of memory brokers in the commemoration process, both past and present, placing the com- memoration of the American Civil War within a shame-centered framework. Illustrations of the symbolic structure of the sites and ideological struggles to recognize the role of slavery as a cause for war, as well as the role of Black soldiers in the war’s outcome, may add to our understanding of U.S. race rela- tions, both past and present."

 

https://sophiecooperhistory.wordpress.com/2017/08/20/where-are-the-women-women-and-statues/

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0021934710378746