Reading Room 2020

Upcoming Reading Room Events

Reading Room #1 – Part 2: Commemorative Monuments and Alternative Approaches

October 29, 2020, 7-8:30 PM

In the last couple of years, the role of commemorative monuments has increasingly been questioned by societies all over the world. In Canada, the debate has predominantly focused on statues of white men that have been regarded and praised as local or national heroes, but whose past deeds are now being disputed.

In Part 2 of Reading Room #1, we will discuss alternatives for commemorating historical figures and events. In an environment where there are widespread debates over what to do with contested monuments, we apply alternatives to several contested sites in Vancouver to see what their future might look like. Our discussion of alternatives will include leaving it, removal, relocation, the installation of new monuments, and creating a “counter-monument”.

Please note that you did not have to attend the first Reading Room session to attend this one.

We are very aware that such discussions are best done in person in small group settings in order for everyone to share their opinions. However, due to COVID-19 and the importance of safety at this time, Reading Room will be held online. Because we want to provide all participants an opportunity to speak, we will provide a maximum of sixteen spaces, divided into two groups led by discussion leaders. After you sign up we will send you an email with the material we will be discussing during the Reading Room and a link to the Zoom call for the event.

About this series

Reading Room is a discussion-oriented series that will engage current thinking and practices seen as existing outside the traditional ideas in heritage—ideas that have shaped the heritage system dominant in the past decades—as a means to engage with current social realities.

The heritage field has been presented with many difficult questions, particularly around diversity, equity, social justice and race and gender inequalities. To address these issues, we need to think differently about the concept of heritage and its existing practices in order to contribute to broader societal benefit.

In this series, we will discuss questions such as:

  • Who gets to tell their story?
  • How do we confront our difficult histories?
  • How has heritage contributed to inequality?
  • Is the preservation of old buildings the ultimate goal of heritage?
  • How do we develop heritage in order to respond to new societal demands? 

Using a variety of reading materials, videos, and presentations (when possible, we will invite guests) as a basis for these discussions, Reading Room sessions will be opportunities for participants to reflect on this material, discuss their reactions, give their own individual experiences, and reason together about how heritage can be part of the solutions to the societal problems we face.

Sessions will be held with smaller numbers of people in order to allow for strong participation and respectful dialogue. Our goal is to provide a space to open ourselves to different ways of thinking and, through listening, honest debate, and personal engagement, make for a healthier public life.

We would like to thank St. John’s College at UBC for their support in delivering these events.