Racist monuments may indeed be beautifulTen-Herng Lai (University of Melbourne)
North Theatre, Old Arts
The University of Melbourne
While much has been said about what ought to be done about the statues and monuments of racist, colonial, and oppressive figures, a significantly undertheorised aspect of the debate is the aesthetics of commemorations. I believe that this omission is rather unfortunate. I contend that taking the aesthetic value of commemorations seriously can help us a) better understand the extent to which objectionable commemorations are objectionable, and b) properly formulate responses to potential aesthetic defences of objectionable commemorations. Here, I propose that the aesthetic value of objectionable commemorations can amplify the force of the objectionable messages conveyed, and the moral disvalue of objectionable commemorations can hinder our appreciation of their aesthetic value. Both, I shall argue, offer us compelling reasons to confront objectionable commemorations.
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