Festival of Democracy Presents: Should the Statutes Stand?


Should we remember our pasts and honor the legacies of controversial heroes?

Together with Forum 2000 and its Festival of Democracy, AAU’s Schools of Law, Humanities, and Journalism, Media and Visual Arts will co-host an interdisciplinary talk on the role and relevance of historical memory after periods of civil and human rights abuses.

In recent months, fueled by movements and activists demanding true racial equality, the world has heard heightening rally calls for the removal of memorials, such as statutes, works of art, and names of places and institutions, that depict controversial historical figures, as well as witnessing their defacement. As the world is growing more aware of the importance of recognizing the rights of all people, societies must also often face dark pasts. Figures such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ivan Konev, and many more have seen their legacies under growing scrutiny as the world recognizes that the good they may have done cannot hide what are now recognized as bad acts and beliefs.

This discussion will be a moment to pause and reflect on the role that historical memory and its evolving narrative plays for individuals and society, both in terms of maintaining culture and finding peace, as well as the role that it plays in remedying past and present civil and human rights violations, including the rights to truth and information, and ensuring that they are not repeated again in the future. As the philosopher, George Santayana, famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This discussion will bring together a round table discussion, in which the audience will be encouraged to participate, about the role of memory in society and law, and try to determine how our world might find a way forward by healing and growing, but not forgetting. 

Confirmed Speakers:

Prof. PhDr. Milada Polišenská, CSc., Deputy to the President and Chief Academic Adviser, Professor of history and international relations.

Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Contact: Carollann Braum, J.D., LL.M., Chair of the Laws Programmes: Carollann.braum@aauni.edu

The event will be hosted online via the Zoom link provided above.

Meeting ID: 778 7820 0928 Passcode: 2mWMhJ