By Faculty for Faculty Lecture: Juliet Hooker, “Black Grief/White Grievance”

By Faculty for Faculty Lecture: Juliet Hooker, “Black Grief/White Grievance”


RICK LOCKE: Thanks
everyone for being here. It’s really, really
wonderful to see you all. This is, of course, this
semester’s first By Faculty, For Faculty lecture. It’s actually the
third of the semester. For those of you
who have attended others of these
sessions, welcome back. It’s wonderful to see you. And for those of you
who it’s the first, it’s really wonderful
to welcome you here. And I hope to see you
again in the future. This is the fourth
year of this series. And this series started when,
in various conversations that I was having– oh, by the
way, my name is Rick Locke. I’m a professor. [LAUGHTER] I’m a professor here
in political science and international
public affairs. And I currently
serve as provost. And in the first
year, when I was meeting with different faculty
across the university, what was really clear
was that faculty were really hungry for
engaging with one another around substance, around
intellectual work, not around committee
assignments, or space, or scheduling, or
things like that, but actually learning
from one another about the incredible, the
exciting, research that takes place and to be
able to engage in that. And then so that’s
what we started. And it’s been a
tremendous success. Whether it’s lunchtime
lectures or evening lectures, every single one of
them has been, really, filled to capacity. And that’s really
wonderful to see. This year, which
marks the fifth year anniversary or the fifth year
of the building on distinction strategic plan,
president Paxson and I thought what we
would try to do is use all the different
lecture series, this one, the presidential
lecture series– we have another lecture
series that we do for staff– et cetera, and to try
to sort of anchor it in different themes related
to building on distinction since that is actually
what’s shaping the university over these recent years and over
certainly the next five or six years. And we are especially
pleased to be able to have professor of
political science, Juliet Hooker, speak with us today
because her work so nicely intersects with multiple
key themes of building on distinction. Juliet is a political
theorist, specializing in comparative political
theory, critical race theory, and multiculturalism. She’s published widely on
Afro-descendant and indigenous politics and multicultural
rights in Latin America. She joined Brown
in 2017, following a 15 year stint at the
University of Texas Austin. She’s received numerous
honors and awards for her book Theorizing
Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du
Bois, and Vasconcelos. She received the American
Political Science Association’s 2018 Bunche Award for
the best scholarly work on ethnic and cultural
pluralism as well as the APAS’ 2018 Best Book
Award on race, ethnicity, and politics. For the non-political
scientists in the room, these are really,
really big awards. Her current research
project, which we’ll hear about more
today, examines the politics of loss, aspects of which have
appeared in scholarly journals like the South Atlantic
Quarterly or even Political Theory. And those of you who were able
to read the little description of this project, I think
it’s incredibly fascinating to sort of talk about how– what’s being lost, who’s feeling
that they’re losing something, and how it intersects with,
really, very, very important debates that we’re having in
contemporary political life in this country. So I very much look
forward to the talk. Juliet was born and
raised in Nicaragua. And according to 2017 feature
about her in the Havana Times, she moved from Bluefields,
the departmental capital of Nicaragua, to Nicaragua’s
south Caribbean region to Managua for part
of her high school. And then she did a– I just learned– a year
at Northfield Mount Hermon in Western Massachusetts
before going to Williams College,
where she earned her bachelor’s in
political science and then later on
went to Cornell for her master’s and her PhD. Juliet is the recipient of
many fellowships and awards, including from the National
Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars, the Du Bois Institute for
America African-American research at Harvard. And she’s currently working
on a book tentatively titled Black Grief/White Grievance. Please join me in
welcoming Juliet Hooker. [APPLAUSE] JULIET HOOKER: Thanks everyone. Thank you to Rick
for the invitation, to Marissa for all the
organization efforts, and to all of you for
coming here today. I started working
on this book some– well, I started
working on pieces of what is now this book
before I got to Brown. But it really has come
together as a book project since I’ve been here. And so Brown has already proven
itself to be a great place to think about these
questions and to get feedback from my colleagues. I look forward to getting
more of that today. As Rick mention, the
talk I’m giving today is part of a broader book
project about different forms of political loss, their effect
on the political imagination of citizens, and,
therefore, how democracies should respond to loss. Specifically, I
argue, in the book, that in the US during
the Obama and Trump eras, the two most important forces
driving racial politics in the US are black grief
and white grievance. Black grief is exemplified
in the Black Lives Matter protests against
police violence, which continue a long tradition of
black political mobilization catalyzed by black death as
a result of white violence that is subsequently channeled
into public mourning. Simultaneously, during
the Trump presidency, long simmering cries
of white victimhood have crystallized into a potent
politics of white grievance that frames the US as a
white country under siege from threats from
within and without at the hands of people of
color, such as ungrateful and unpatriotic blacks, criminal– I’m quoting Latino
immigrants, Muslim terrorists, violent refugees, et cetera. Now, grief and grievance have
the same etymological origin from the French term
grever, to harm, which reflects the fact that
they’re both types of loss. Loss is both a universal
human experience and a central
democratic activity. To be a good democratic citizen,
one must learn to accept loss. As the political scientists
who work on democratization like to say, the game can’t
be rigged in a democracy. In the book, therefore,
I want to argue that, to understand the
salience of white grievance in contemporary racial
politics in the United States, we need to focus on
the crucial question for democratic politics
of how citizens cope with political loss. And now, I’m going to
present the talk today, which is from one of the chapters
in the book in the section on white grievance. In August 2017, the
Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville,
Virginia brought together white supremacists, white
nationalists, neo-Confederates, and various white militias
who marched openly chanting racist slogans and carrying
swastikas, Confederate battle flags, and anti-Muslim
and anti-Semitic banners. They were met by
counter protesters, including students at the
University of Virginia, an activist associated with
the local Black Lives Matter chapter who were determined
to stop the rallies. Amid a late and tepid
police response, the event would eventually leave
over 30 injured and one dead after a man linked to a
white supremacist group rammed his car into a crowd
of counter protesters, killing a white
woman Heather Heyer. Unlike other recent
cases of non-Muslim Arabs killing unarmed
civilians in the US, the attack was described as
an act of domestic terrorism by then Attorney General,
Jeff Sessions, immediately. President Trump, however,
infamously chose instead to condemn, quote, “Hatred,
bigotry, and violence on many sides”,
and further claimed that there was
blame on both sides. While the larger aim of
the Charlottesville rally was to unify the white
nationalist movement in the United States,
its immediate stated goal was to oppose the removal of a
statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the recently
renamed Emancipation Park. After decades of inertia
and, indeed, of construction of new Confederate memorials
in cities throughout the United States, the Charlottesville
city council’s decision to remove Lee’s
statue was prompted by the massacre in Charleston,
South Carolina in 2015 in which [? avowed ?] white supremacist
Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American
church goers in cold blood in hope of inciting a race war. Roof was an ardent admirer
of the Confederacy. He posed with the Confederate
battle flag, affixed a Confederate States of America
license plate to his vehicle, and, prior to embarking
on his killing spree, visited various historical sites
in North and South Carolina related to slavery
and the Confederacy, including four former
plantations, a cemetery for white Confederate
soldiers, the Museum and Library of Confederate
History, et cetera. Roof’s killing spree
made him a martyr for fellow white nationalists. One of the Unite the Right Rally
attendees reportedly shouted, Dylann Roof was a
hero, during the March. Contrary to claims
that they are simply tributes to fallen
soldiers or attempt to preserve white Southern
history and traditions then, the links between
contemporary white nationalism and Confederate
memorialization are undeniable. In light of this, we are forced
to ask, what should the US do about Confederate monuments? Why do some white citizens
care about the removal of statues memorializing the
defeated in a long ago war? In remarks defending his claim
that counter protesters were also to blame for the
violence in Charlottesville, Trump sought to
defend participants by saying, quote,
“Many of those people were there to protest
the taking down of the Statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it’s
Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall
Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George
Washington next week? And is it Thomas
Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do
have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” End quote. Trump’s defense of the
Unite the Rally marchers illustrates what is
at stake in clashes about Confederate monuments. He argued that the
protesters were not really there to promote white
supremacy or white nationalism but rather to defend
Confederate memorials, equating Confederate generals,
such as Lee and Jackson, who specifically fought
a war to defend the right to be slave owners, and founding
fathers, such as Washington and Jefferson, who
were also slave owners and who, for the most part, did
not see this as a contradiction to the universal human
political rights they claimed for themselves and
fellow white property owners. It’s an acknowledgment, however,
that despite the lofty rhetoric about political equality
in its founding documents, the US was founded as a
white supremacist state. And most of its
political leadership has upheld or defended
that status quo. This acknowledgment
makes it more difficult to draw a hard
and fast distinction between the
Confederacy’s commitment to slavery and the
acceptance of other less extreme forms of black
subordination in other eras. On the surface, the question,
“Where does it stop?” is an attempt to align defenders
of Confederate memorials with those who are willing to
dispense with commemorating Lee and Jackson but who
would be troubled if Washington and Jefferson were
to receive the same treatment. But there is also
a deeper meaning to the plaintiff and angry
query, “Where will it stop?” If we disavow the Confederacy,
what further political losses will follow? I thus want to
reorient the debate about Confederate
memorials in light of the problem of political
loss and white political loss, in particular. In other words, I’m interested
in the civic and effective function of these memorials
since memorialization involves how those with political
power within a given society organized public space to convey
and, thus, to teach the public desired political lessons. So before we go on to
talk about it further, we have to see the scale of
the issue we’re talking about. And it’s really
quite astonishing, once one delves into
it, how ubiquitous in many Southern spaces,
in particular Confederate memorials are. Today the most
comprehensive database of Confederate
iconography supported by public institutions, that
is not those in private spaces, is a 2016 report whose
heritage public symbols of the Confederacy compiled
by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which undertook this
effort to map Confederate place names and other symbols after
the Charleston massacre. It identified 1500
Confederate memorials including over 700
monuments, schools named after
Confederate generals, various Confederate holidays, as
well as cities and other places named after Confederate heroes. Now, when we look at the
geographic distribution of these monuments, we
also see that they’re mostly concentrated in
the South, which is ironic given this other
slide, which shows the concentration of the
black population in the United States. I’m going to go back
so you can take a look at this one for a moment. The Southern Poverty
Law Center’s report also rebuts claims that
Confederate memorials are merely symbols of southern
heritage with no racist intent by graphing the timeline of when
most Confederate monuments were built. Confederate symbols
came into widespread use at two specific historical
moments in the 20th century, when the status of white
supremacy was highly contested. The first begins, as you can see
here, around 1900 in the period when states are reenacting Jim
Crow laws to disenfranchise newly freed African-Americans
and to resegregate US society. The spike lasts
well into the 1920s, a period that saw the dramatic
resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, which is also a moment
of widespread racial terror and the height of lynching. There is a second spike that
begins then in the early 1950s and lasts through the
1960s as the Civil Rights Movement led to a backlash
among segregationists. And it’s in the
1950s and ’60s that, after having been sparingly
displayed for decades, elements of the Confederate
battle flag are incorporated directly into the
flags of various– and flown over various
state capitals in the south, at a time when the flag was
also a mainstay at Ku Klux Klan rallies and the various
terror activities that they carried out. So what have political
theorists had to say about Confederate
memorialization? Political theorists
and philosophers who have considered the issue
of Confederate memorialization have tended to frame
their responses in terms of three main concerns. The first is how to
balance the interest in free speech versus the
interest of protecting citizens from racist harm. The second way they’ve
thought about the issue is how to protect the
interests of defenders of Confederate symbols, how not
to make them further aggrieved. And the third is
they’ve considered the possible civic effects
of public conversations among citizens about whether
to remove these monuments. For the most part, they
haven’t taken a free speech absolute disposition that
the removal of the monuments would violate the right to free
expression of their defenders. Some have argued, such
as Michelle Moody-Adams, that the monuments
cause something what she calls expressive
harm, and that they’re expressions of
racial intimidation and therefore should be removed. But like many others,
she is concerned about the effect of removal on
democratic ties among citizens. Others have argued that
removing the monuments would be problematic
and self-defeating and that instead what
society should focus on is on closing the monumentary
gap between peoples and reframing
existing monuments. Meanwhile, others have
argued that the states should affirm the equal
moral worth of all citizens. And that includes rejecting
past racist practices and the symbols and cultural
expressions associated with them, and that the
state has an affirmative duty to ensure that
memorialization conveys appropriate non-racist
lessons and interpretations to citizens. But even those who
take this position also tend to then conclude when it
comes to about what should we do after affirming
that principle, that no single approach
is the correct one. Because each case raises
questions of interpretation, such as why did
people choose to erect that particular statue, as
well as questions of process. Who decides what to do? And generally, actually, the
thing they all converge on is this idea that actually– as this is a classic move
by political theorist– to say the debate itself is
a democratic good in itself, right? People coming
together and having a conversation about this
will be a good thing. So one of the things
that I have noted then is that it seems to me that
there is a weird absence in this debate, right? So to the extent that
political theories have thought about the
harms of continuing of the statues– they’ve
thought about it in terms of, how does this harm African
Americans or others who see them as symbols
of racial domination? What they haven’t thought
about is, what potential harm do they do to the
people who support them? What is the effect on
non-racist whites as well? So I think there is another
literature in political theory, the growing work on
mourning and loss, which can help us think
about these questions of what civic work the Confederate
mourning is accomplishing. And here, I want to turn to two
insights from this literature, which hasn’t
addressed the question of Confederate
memorialization directly, but which has focused on
9/11 and other recent events in particular. So the first insight that I
want to point to is this idea that fruitful democratic
mourning requires a complex account of history
that annihilates certainties, thereby opening space for
individual and collective agency, which I
think highlights how mourning for the
lost cause embodied in Confederate
memorials is precisely about avoiding complexity. The second relevant
insight is the argument that different types
of commemoration can impact a democratic
orientation of citizens, so that certain
types of memorials can become memorials to an
ongoing sense of injustice and so that, despite claims that
memorials are sites of healing, they actually exacerbate the
effective impact of losses in ways that are potentially
damaging to democracy. Confederate memorials, I argue,
function in precisely this way, fostering a politics
of white grievance that situates white slave
owners as the real victims of the Civil War and their
contemporary political heirs who aspire to political
dominance as the similarly aggrieved victims of
subsequent attempts to redress white supremacy,
such as civil rights legislation, affirmative
action, et cetera, et cetera. When we apply this frame to the
issue of Confederate monuments then, we’re led to ask, what
is the loss being mourned or managed via these symbols? What kind of civic lessons
about the character of democratic politics
is being conveyed by Confederate memorials? I argue that
Confederate memorials are about racial nostalgia
for white political mastery, or the unchallenged expectations
of collective racial dominance. And in order to illustrate
this argument about what’s at stake in Confederate
memorialization, I actually turned to
an unusual source, a contemporaneous account to
one of the inaugural instances of Confederate commemoration
in service of white reunion. That was written by the
Cuban intellectual Jose Marti, who writes a
detailed account of one of the first large scale
Confederate celebrations in 1886. And I’m going to talk to spend
the rest of my time talking about that essay in particular. And I think turning
to Marti is important because it gives us– enables a
wider hemispheric understanding of the role that
memorialization plays in shaping the political
imagination of dominant groups. So my analysis of Confederate
memorial centers then, a living statue, as Marti’s essay centers
the figure of Jefferson Davis. Davis’s tour of various
southern cities– Montgomery, Alabama, and
Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah, Georgia– to dedicate
Confederate memorials only two decades after the
Civil War presaged the numerous statues
that would be erected in his own image
in subsequent years. Along with Robert E. Lee
and Stonewall Jackson, Davis is one of the most
frequently memorialized Confederate figures. Indeed in my previous
campus, there was a statue that has now
recently been removed to Davis who had no connection to Texas. Marti’s essay on
Davis is especially apt in light of the imagery
in the platonic dialogue [? domino ?] that serves as
the epigraph for this chapter. Plato referred to the works
of the sculptor Daedalus that were so lifelike
that if not fastened they were likely to
play truant and run away to illustrate the difference
between true knowledge and opinion. His imagery of statues that
play truant and run away is especially
relevant because it goes against the
general understanding of the work of commemoration
as being about achieving historical closure,
about drawing together the meaning of a
particular historical event in a single speech or monument. But I argue then
that memorialization shapes political imagination
so that, despite the supposed fixity of monuments,
Confederate statues embody particular kinds of
political desires that can take on a life of
their own in the present as they did for Dylann Roof
and unite the right rally participants. And I am going to show you a
little tidbit on the parade. Hopefully this will work. So anyway, this is
a little clip that’s put together by the Georgia
Historical Society that describes this tour. This is the first
time that Jefferson reemerges from his seclusion
after the end of the Civil War. And he goes on this tour. And he has these huge crowds. And he’s there to dedicate what
will become some of these– what are now these huge avenues
of Confederate monuments in various cities in the south. And he’s met by these
rapturous crowds. And there’s this very
positive and glowing coverage of his this tour even
in northern newspapers. So Marti, who’s living
in the US at the time, writes an essay about it. And maybe we’ll just skip the
video and just keep going. So I’m going to tell you a
little bit about who Marti was. Marti is widely recognized
as one of Latin America’s most important
political thinkers, and especially as one of its
most important anti-Imperial thinkers. Born in Cuba in 1853,
in his short life, Marti pursued two principle
political projects. One was Cuban independence. And the other was a
project of Latin American regional political
unity to oppose the threat of US
expansionism, which becomes increasingly
threatening during his lifetime. As a result of being an
advocate of independence, since Cuba was still a
Spanish colony at the time, Marti was forced to live most
of his adult life in exile. His most prolonged
period of exile actually, from 1880 to 1895, he
lives for the most part in New York City, where he had
ample opportunity to observe US race relations firsthand. At the time, Cubans were
the largest Spanish speaking community in New
York City and the US. In the US, Marti
was deeply involved in vibrant political and social
circles of Caribbean exiles in New York City that
revolved around organizations such as the [SPEAKING SPANISH]
which sought Cuban and Puerto Rican independence. The Cuban exile milieu in
New York City in the US was ideologically, racially,
and economically diverse. It reflected the race
and class tensions that threatened to divide
the independence movements. It included wealthy white
Cubans, working class cigar factory workers,
and Afro Cubans. And the position of Afro
Cubans was especially thorny because of the
importance of slavery in the Cuban
independence struggle. Cuban creole planters had
remained loyal to Spain and not declared
independence at the time that other Latin American
countries did because of their fear that they
would become another Haiti and that there would be
violent emancipation. But Afro Cuban participation
in the unsuccessful 10 Years War from 1868 to
1878 for independence led to a process of
gradual emancipation where slavery
remained, but those who had fought on
both sides were freed. So slavery is finally
abolished in Cuba by a decree of the Spanish
monarchy in October of 1886, a few months after Marti
published his Chronica of Davis’s Confederate tour. Now, Marti’s views about
the US were complicated. He admired US progress. But he feared US expansionism. In his Chronicas,
he often marveled at US cultural development
and technological innovation, but also condemned US
materialism and greed and especially US racism. Marti’s effusive praise
for the United States on the Confederacy then, in a
great Confederate celebration, is startling precisely because
he was such a frequent critic of the United States
and because he’s widely viewed as one of the more
progressive thinkers on race of his time. So it’s really jarring then. You’re reading Marti’s
collected works. And suddenly, there’s
all these things about how racism doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as race. And then there’s a great
Confederate celebration. You’re like, what
do we make of that? And this excerpt from one
of his most famous essays, “The Truth About
the United States,” shows how we usually
think about Marti– how Marti speaks
about the US and how he frames this comparison
between US and Latin American– the US and Latin
America in particular. Like other Latin American
anti-Imperial thinkers, Marti frequently engaged in
hemispheric racial comparisons that simultaneously
condemned US racism and absolved Latin
America by contrast. So the essay was written in
Spanish for a Latin American audience. It appeared in La Nacion, one of
Argentina’s leading newspapers. It’s a ventriloquized reading
of US newspaper accounts of Davis’s white reunion tour. In terms of genre, it’s
part of his Chronicas about life in the
United States, which are marked by ventriloquism. He adopts a narrative
voice that situates him as a firsthand spectator
of events compiled from sources in English
without acknowledging the original source. So they’re a blend of reportage,
tableau, and essay that Marti writes as though he were an
eye witness from a collection of press releases that
he took from the wire or from American newspapers. Marti’s ventriloquism then
suggests that his essays often reflected US elite
sentiment in so far as they regurgitated coverage
in northern newspapers, such as the New York Sun
and the New York Times, while at the same
time, of course, the essays obviously are also
inflected by his own ideas and judgments about
the United States. So in other work on
Marti have argued that Murphy’s sketch of
this inaugural instance of Confederate memorialization
served as the occasion for a hemispheric
account of white reunion. By this, I mean that
one reading of the essay is that Marti views the US Civil
War through the lens of Cuba’s ongoing struggle
for independence and the anticipated problem
of intra-white reunion in Cuba if independence is achieved
between Cuban nationalists who want independence
and those who favor remaining a Spanish colony
or being annexed to the US. There’s also the problem
of black-white reunion, as the status of Afro Cubans
in the yet to be Cuban Republic remained a major
political question long after Marti’s lifetime,
even as his writings have been used to support conflicting
accounts of the meaning of Cuban racial democracy. Indeed, drawing on
Marti to analyze the work of memorialization
is particularly fitting given that he himself is part
of a commemoration triumvirate. Along with Fidel
Castro and Che Guevara, his is the most frequently
memorialized figure in revolutionary Cuba. And this quote, I think, points
to this hemispheric reading of what’s going on in a
Confederate celebration, that Marti is seeing this
moment where the US is able to acknowledge both
the losers and the winners in a conflict. And I’m running out of time. But what I want to
suggest to highlight is that, in this
chapter, is the way that Marti’s essay
illustrates two other features of Confederate memorialization
that characterize it as a sight of mourning
with undemocratic effects. And one of these is the
formulation or solidification of a narrative of
southern white innocence that depends on a claim
that slavery wasn’t central to the Civil War. This, of course, is an
argument that’s going to go on. This prefigures the argument
of the southern historians, this idea that slavery is
not what the war was about. And we see in these
quotes the contortions that Marti goes through
to try to make this claim. On the one hand, he
says slavery is over. We don’t need to worry about. On the other hand,
he says, it really wasn’t about slavery, right? And this, I think, is the
theme that we see over and over in subsequent writings
about the Confederacy and these memorials. And I can talk a
little bit in the Q&A about the role of whether
black folks appear or not at all in the essay. But I’m skipping that right now. So another feature of
Confederate memorialization that I think we can
observe in Marti’s essay is the transfiguration
of treason into innocence that would enable the
memory of the Civil War to become about
Southern white grievance against Northern
political dominance, such that the real victims
of the war, and especially reconstruction, would become
southern whites subjected to northern mastery. In the essay, Marti
describes the US as worthy of
admiration for allowing the former Confederate
states to erect monuments to celebrate their fallen. Marti’s admiration for marshal
forms of heroic masculinity was clearly aroused
by the spectacle of this Confederate
commemoration. Yet, it is notable that it
is the Confederate statues, including the
living one of Davis, that he absolves of the
hollowness and vacuity of being statues made of sugar,
which is how he describes the US in this quote. So what I want to argue then
is that we see in Marti’s essay the beginning of this politics
of white grievance directed at both local blacks
and northern elites. And Marti echoes supporters
of Confederate memorialization by focusing on the
heroism of the fallen and echoes the logic that,
by virtue of their bravery and the tenacity with which
they clung to their beliefs, the injustice of the
southern cause was redeemed. It was ironically then
patriarchal southern whites who were overwhelmed
by Northern might. And I think then
that, already in 1886, it’s possible to
see the work that Confederate
memorialization would do in cementing a narrative of
southern victimhood and white grievance. So I’m wrapping up now. So I think Confederate monuments
matter because they nurture white political
imaginations oriented to mastery or sovereignty. If the experience of
citizenship in democracies is paradigmatically one
of frustrated sovereignty, as Danielle Allen argues,
Confederate monuments do symbolic work, not
of reconciling whites to the loss of mastery, but
of investing them in it. They promote the idea of
virtuous white victims who have made sacrifices
for the nation in return for which they deserve never to
have to be losers in politics. So one of the problems
with the arguments that public dialogues about
whether or not to remove the monuments can have
positive democratic effects is that it sidesteps
the issue of what political work Confederate
memorials continue to do. Not only do they reinscribe
the politics of white reunion that emerge in the
aftermath of the Civil War where reconciliation
trumped racial justice, they served to reinforce white
political imaginations that continue to be invested
in white supremacy rather than to transform them. And I want to say that the
solution that’s often proposed of creating more black
memorials, such as civil rights memorials, I think
isn’t the solution. Because it also leads to a
segregated public memory. And these are also memorials
generally to black activists. So what we continue
not to have is any kind of civic memorialization
of white investment in anti-racist activism. So I want to argue that
removing Confederate monuments can be an important
step in transforming white political imaginations. Accepting the loss of
Confederate monuments can become an investment
in a racially egalitarian political project. It may be that accepting loss
on the terrain of the symbolic can serve as training, can pave
the way towards the acceptance of material losses,
such as the loss of unerred white advantages
that would be required in a racially just society. Considering the issue of
Confederate memorialization in light of the problem
of white political loss, this allows us to
shift the emphasis away from questions of process, as
political theorists have tended to approach the issue, and onto
the more fundamental question of, what kind of
losses are normatively acceptable because
they’re required for democratic equality? Democratic societies should
not indulge or support their citizens in
mourning losses that foster political
imaginations and effective
commitments oriented toward mastery,
untrammeled sovereignty, or political dominance. Confederate memorials etched in
stone a simultaneous narrative of white grievance, of
whiteness under attack, and of commitment to never
again be a loser, a fate to be avoided at all costs. The tragic outcomes of
Confederate memorialization is the creation of a
civic landscape of memory that nurtures Dylann
Roof and those who lionize him as a hero. They worship at the feet of
publicly supported statues made not of sugar
but carved in stone. This is an image from Carl
Walker’s sugar Sphynx exhibit at the Domino Sugar
Factory that is on homage to black
domestic workers and other kinds of
people who produce sugar at the site of the factory. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: We can do like
20 minutes for questions if people have them. Do you want to do that? JULIET HOOKER: Sure, yes. SPEAKER 1: And if people
can introduce themselves. AUDIENCE: Hi,
[? Michelle Mason-Bizary. ?] I visit in the
philosophy department. The African American moral
philosopher, Macalaster Bell, has written an
interesting article where she argues that to
remove these monuments is to ignore the important
moral work they could do. And she uses the example– I believe it happened at
the University of Virginia– where students, in response
to a memorial of Jefferson, took sticky notes and
wrote racist, slave owner, posted them on the memorial. And she tries to argue that the
kind of moral work of allowing these statues to stand as a site
of oppressed anger expression is preferable to
the kind of erasure of memory of these wrongdoings
that she worries would happen. And she draws an
important distinction between that kind of act and the
act of, say, requiring students to attend classes in a building
that’s named after Robert E. Lee or something. Because that, she argues,
I think persuasively, is a kind of
violation that differs from allowing a statue to
stand as a site of a target for oppressed anger. So I just wanted to invite you
to say something about what you would think of that. JULIET HOOKER: I think this
is a complicated issue. At UT when we had
this debate about what to do about the
Confederate statues, I and many of the other faculty
in African diaspora studies actually argued for that
reason not for removal. Because they were already– the interesting thing
about how they operated was that they were there. But the university
never talked about them. It never acknowledged
that they were there. So it was this
weird way in which it was part of the erasure
actually of the history of racism on campus. And so I think that this is– I think this question
of contextualization is an interesting one. Because I think it points
to the question of, how do we think about
what would actually transform people’s investments? And the question is
whether the sticky notes– I mean, the sticky
notes are ephemeral. They’ll be gone, but
the statue will remain. So how do we balance that? I agree that erasure
is not the answer. But I don’t know that I think
how far contextualization works. So that would be my response. There’s a hand over here. Yeah. AUDIENCE: My name
is Lindsey Jones. I am a postdoc in education. Thank you so much for this talk. I was finishing up my PhD at
UVA when all of this stuff went down. And so it was extremely
frustrating to see the national discourse
go straight to, call these people what they are. They’re Nazis. They’re Nazis. Thank you for centering
anti-black racism in those protests and centering
the backlash against removal of Confederate monuments
in those protests. So at UVA, some of my colleagues
were engaging with scholarship on the microspatial placement
of statues and the kind of work that they did in terms
of what they posited, like surveilling
black communities or demarcating white space
within Charlottesville in particular, but also
cities like Richmond. And so I wondered,
in your book, are you looking at the ways in
which these monuments work to curtail political
participation on the microlevel or to demarcate black
space from white space, particularly given the timing
in the early 1910s and 1920s and in the civil rights
movement when there was the [? New Negro ?]
Movement and renewed emphasis on civil rights? JULIET HOOKER: So that’s not
a focus of what I’m doing. But it is a part
of it, in; so far as you know one of the
arguments that people make is, how do we know why
people are invested in them? Maybe it’s about
Southern heritage. It’s not about
investment as I would describe in white dominance. And so part of the work
for me of doing that– some of the value of that work
is precisely in saying, well, when do they emerge? What kind of work
are they doing? But what I’m actually also
interested in thinking about is thinking about the role
of counter memorials, right? Because one of the
ways in which people have argued that one solution
is either to integrate things like monument [? ab ?] by
putting in statues to African Americans, which would be
kind of like you’d have a civil rights hero and then– I don’t know– Robert E. Lee,
or things like the new lynching memorial. But then again, it’s also like
what are we memorializing? We’re memorializing this site,
in the case of the lynching memorials, of black victimhood
versus the active, heroic Lee on his statue looking over
the avenues or whatever. So I think we need to think
about what kind of work they’re doing and why
people are attracted to them and think about
what kind of ways do we have to think
about what kind of political imaginations
and civic attachments do we want to foster
through publicly funded memorialization. OK. I’ll start with you. I don’t know. I’m sorry. Brian next. AUDIENCE: Hi, I’m Emily Ostrom,
a professor in economics. So I wanted to come back
to the president’s quote at the beginning about,
where does this stop? What is next Week And I
think that is a refrain which we do hear from quite a lot. And I often think
about it in the context of some of the stuff that came
up a year or two ago at Yale, where they want to
rename Calhoun College. But the question is, how do
you rename Calhoun College and not rename Yale, given
that Yale himself was a slave trader? And so there are a
lot of these things we’re going to struggle with. And I guess I wondered if this
paradigm, this kind of way of thinking about it, is
going to give any clues, or if you have any
thoughts on the question of how do we think
about [? drawing it? ?] Is there a line? Do we want to draw a line? I’m just curious how
you think about that. JULIET HOOKER: OK. Maybe I’ll take a couple,
so in the interest of time. Brian? AUDIENCE: Thanks, Juliet. And I’m particularly
grateful to you for putting Marti on
the interrogation block. Because I think he needs
to be interrogated. And you started to do that. But my question really
is, OK, so a regime can be sufficiently heinous,
as in postwar Germany, that you eliminate all
recognition of its existence from public space. And we accept that as
something that should have been done to Nazi Germany. So what is the
limit of heinousness that is required for
the Nazi Germany formula to be implemented? Is that slavery? And what the Confederates
did was bad, but not so bad. JULIET HOOKER: OK,
I’ll take one more. We’ll start with Nancy,
then I’ll go around. AUDIENCE: Thank you so much. I wasn’t sure if I was– I sometimes have
trouble hearing– if you were saying affective
with an A or effective. JULIET HOOKER: Affective. AUDIENCE: OK, great. Because that’s what
my question was about. So I wondered if you could
say a little bit more about things like shame and
anger with respect to the way things are commemorated
differently. So I’m imagining a battlefield
with a solemn plaque that is commemorating an event
during the Civil War but not celebrating a person. And no matter who’s
doing the feeling, it seems never to be about how
black people feel about it. And so the intersections between
power and affect in the way things are commemorated
differently, even around the same set of events. Thank you. JULIET HOOKER: Yeah, OK. I’ll take you. And then I’ll answer
and take some more. Sorry if I’m missing anyone. AUDIENCE: I’m Peter Allen. I’m retired. This is a somewhat follow-up
question to the earlier ones. We have the example
of Nazi Germany. We have other examples
in the world, what Russia has done with statues
of Lenin and Stalin, and in Japan, the
controversy over the cemetery visit a few years back. And my question is, although
the Civil War and the monuments are really a unique
American problem, do we have anything to
learn from the way which other countries have or have
not dealt with their problems? JULIET HOOKER: So I’m going
to go ahead and answer these. Because I think they’re
actually all related. So in terms of the
question of what is the limit of
heinousness and where does it stop, which I think
are sort of the same question, I’m not interested
in thinking about it in terms of the kind of
heinousness question. Because I think that leads
us down to these weird like, OK, well, they owned slaves. And so do we take down
the names of, let’s say, a Rhode Island factory textile
owner who profited from slavery but wasn’t the slave owner? I don’t think that’s the
way to think about it. I think what I’m trying to
say is, let’s think about, OK, as a society and
as a democracy, we want to foster certain kinds
of political orientations among citizens. One of those is towards racial
justice or racial equality. Is this particular form of
moralization doing that? And I think there there
might be radiations, right? So it’s not that all of
them are the same thing. And this comes to perhaps
Nancy your question. I would be less concerned
about, let’s say– I don’t know– a marker
at a grave of somebody who died during the
Civil War than I would about a huge statue
of Robert E. Lee or a spate of
Confederate generals. And I think this question
of why it matters– I think this is why start
with Dylann Roof, right? I think it’s not
coincidental that before he goes on this spree, he goes
and visits these sites. He’s getting
something out of them. They’re nurturing
something in him. And we need to think
about that problem. And I’m not saying
that everybody who goes to visit a
Confederate memorial is going to go and
start killing people. But I’m saying that I think
we need to think about if we want to right now
have more Dylann Roofs think about other ways– about how we might
foster different kinds of political imaginations
and civic dispositions. And in terms of the
question of whether we have something to learn from
other countries, I think we do. And that is one part of the
project that I want to develop. And this is why
Marti is in there. I’m particularly interested–
I mean, I will have to look, of course– one has to look at the
Holocaust and Nazi Germany. But I’m particularly interested
actually in Latin America and in particular,
I think, in Brazil on some of its own
debates about how to remember slavery
and its slave past, which has become actually
a pretty contentious issue in recent years. And there, one
interesting question is about who controls
that memory, right? So are these
representations coming from communities
of people who are descendants of enslaved people? Or are they being created
in national museums? And how are those forms
of memory different? I think I missed a few hands. So sorry. OK, I’ll start. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER 2: Can I ask you
to speak into the mic? Because we’re taping. [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE: Chris Roberts,
Pembroke Center. Thank you for the presentation. My question is actually coming
back to the notion of loss. And I was wondering
if you could maybe speak more about the way that– when does a loss–
would you say, is that at the site
point of removal? Because oftentimes,
I’m thinking about, once it comes into the
news or popular discourse that something is
going to be removed, that’s when we see these
movements happening. So how is your thinking about
this notion of white grievance connected to– yes, quote, the war
may have been lost, but we’re still
present in the public? So if you could speak a bit
more about how the monument removal specifically
maybe augments or puts a particular light
on a loss that people have [? assuaged ?]
themselves that otherwise that not
occurred or did not happen. JULIET HOOKER: OK, yeah? AUDIENCE: I mean, I guess my
question goes back to what you were saying about Dylann Roof. Because I’m from Alabama. Next to the
Department of Archives is the Confederate White House. And it’s nothing to see white
families in front of that house or going and touring the house
taking pictures in front of it with their children
in front of it. So I agree that it is
doing something for them. And I guess my question
is, is that a function– is the connection
purely what you would consider, like
in your previous work, a political solidarity that
they’re filling with this? And also, is it a political
socialization process as to where they’re
learning and then it’s becoming a part of their
everyday practice and things to believe these myths about
the South and about themselves in general? JULIET HOOKER: Mm-hmm, yes. Somebody back here. And then we’ll come around. AUDIENCE: My name
is [? Natalia. ?] And I just joined Brown. I’m in Anthropology
in the Watson. Just going back to
Brian’s question, there is actually a
museum outside of Berlin where you can see some
statues, a few selected ones, with a tour guide and a very– I mean, you cannot just walk in. I mean, you have to
go with a tour guide. And schoolchildren are
actually encouraged to go, just as a side note. But my question
was more around– so listening to
you, of course, this is a very US-specific
experience and story. But when you speak about black
grief and white grievance, I mean, it resonates
beyond the US. So I’ve just left London
where I lived for 24 years. And some of the issues
have come up as well in terms of some of the
monuments of British empire. And there are lots of–
especially in places at universities– Cambridge and so on–
there are lots of debates. And I wonder, so how
much of what you see here is something that
is very specific? And what is actually
more global? I mean, in the UK, it’s clearly
linked to British empire. But we see it also in Germany
unfolding where maybe we can speak more about
political blackness and the racialization
of Muslims and refugees. And so I mean, I don’t
want to broaden up. And I realize you haven’t
done that research. But I’m always not interested in
what is unique to this country and what is actually happening
on a wider scale right now. JULIET HOOKER: OK, Kevin. AUDIENCE: Hi, Kevin
[? Izquierdo, ?] American Studies. Thanks so much for the talk. I guess my question is– so when you were talking about
monuments in public spaces, I wonder what you might want to
say about less public spaces, like museums, bases, and
exhibits that could produce a counter narrative in
more of a contained space or a curated space that
people are guided through, and if you see the potential
for these kinds of museum exhibitions or
placing these statues and monuments in museums perhaps
as a way of thinking about some of that. JULIET HOOKER: Thank you. So I’m going to try to
answer these really quickly. I think that the question
of when loss comes in is a complicated one, right? Because there are
losses being mourned and also losses being deflected
in Confederate memorialization, right? So I think what
people are in are doing is becoming
socialized into a narrative of white grievance, of
historical wrongs to which they are now the heirs
and that give them a certain sense of
particular identity, of particular grievances, right? So I think the loss both
predates, but then becomes made part of a line of grievance
that goes into the present. But what I want to say
about the removal piece in my project is
thinking about how– what would it mean– so let me pose the
question in another way. If we can’t even conceive of
removing Confederate monuments, what can we conceive of doing
to further racial justice? If that in itself is not
possible, what is possible? So that’s what I want to say. Yes, it would be a loss. That’s OK. Some losses are necessary. Yes, controversial
position, I know. In terms of the issue of
how much is this a US story, I agree that it’s
not just a US story, the larger question about
memorialization and about the struggles about the way
in which loss operates and works politically
is a broader story. For the sake of
this project, I’ve find it to these two
trends in US politics. But I think the larger
story about loss– and I absolutely think– in some thinking of
mine, I’ve argued that there’s something
similar going on with Brexit and with this
nostalgia for the loss of empire in Europe. So I do think that there are
resonances with various– somebody, when I presented
a part of this elsewhere, said that it resonated with
some of what they were seeing in Japan, for example, as well. And in terms of the
question– thank you– the question about museum
spaces and exhibition, that’s where I want to end up is
actually trying to think about, how can we think about processes
of counter-memorialization or of memorializing
differently that perhaps aren’t about these single monumental,
heroic guys, right? But thinking about– what are
the various ways in which we can undo the various
problematic aspects of Confederate memorialization? [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: So that
was really terrific. And clearly, you made us think
about this issue in new ways. Here’s a small token
of appreciation. Thanks. JULIET HOOKER: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. I’m sorry I didn’t
get your questions. I’m happy to talk.

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