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The Politics of Memorials

The Politics of Memorials: Laurie Taylor explores the nature and meaning of commemoration, from Ireland to the Mississippi Delta

The Politics of Memorials: Remembering Emmet Till – in 1955, a young African-American was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store. Driving through the Mississippi Delta today and you’ll find a landscape dotted with memorials to major figures and moments from the civil rights movement, none more tragic than this murder.The ways in which his death is remembered have been fraught from the beginning, revealing the political controversies which lurk behind the placid facades of historical markers. Dave Tell, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, analyses the various ways that this landmark event in the civil rights movement has been commemorated. Also, Margaret O’Callaghan, Reader in History, Queen’s University Belfast, discusses commemoration in the context of Irish history. How has the marking of the Easter Rising shifted over time? What roles are played by memorials in any society? And what forces dictate what gets remembered and what is forgotten?

Producer: Jayne Egerton

Available now

29 minutes


1916 in 1966: Commemorating the Easter Rising, edited by Mary E. Daly and Margaret O'Callaghan, (Royal Irish Academy, 2007) 

Remembering Emmett Till by Dave Tell (University of Chicago Press, May 2019) 


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