Statues, History, and Identity: How Bad Public History Statues Wrong

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (2):253-267 (2023)
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Abstract

There has recently been a focus on the question of statue removalism. This concerns what to do with public history statues that honour or otherwise celebrate ethically bad historical figures. The specific wrongs of these statues have been understood in terms of derogatory speech, inapt honours, or supporting bad ideologies. In this paper I understand these bad public history statues as history, and identify a distinctive class of public history-specific wrongs. Specifically, public history plays an important identity-shaping role, and bad public history can commit specifically ontic injustice. Understanding bad public history in terms of ontic injustice helps understand not just to address bad public history statues, but also understand the value of public history more broadly.

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