What We Are Doing Today: Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves by Kirk Savage

Updated 30 July 2018
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What We Are Doing Today: Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves by Kirk Savage

Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves explores how the history of slavery and its violent end was told in public spaces — specifically in the sculptural monuments that came to dominate streets, parks, and town squares in 19th-century America. 

Looking at monuments built and unbuilt, author Kirk Savage shows how the greatest era of monument building in American history took place amid struggles over race, gender, and collective memory. 

Savage is the William S. Dietrich II Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. 

He is the author of Monument Wars: Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Princeton) and the editor of The Civil War in Art and Memory. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves probes a host of fascinating questions and remains the only sustained investigation of post-Civil War monument building as a process of national and racial definition, according to a review published in the Princeton University Press website. 

Featuring a new preface by the author that reflects on recent events surrounding the meaning of these monuments, and new photography and illustrations throughout, this new and expanded edition reveals how monuments have only become more controversial with the passage of time.


What We Are Reading Today: A People’s Constitution

Updated 32 min 10 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: A People’s Constitution

Author: Rohit De

It has long been contended that the Indian Constitution of 1950, a document in English created by elite consensus, has had little influence on India’s greater population. Drawing upon the previously unexplored records of the Supreme Court of India, A People’s Constitution upends this narrative and shows how the Constitution actually transformed the daily lives of citizens in profound and lasting ways. This remarkable legal process was led by individuals on the margins of society, and Rohit De looks at how drinkers, smugglers, petty vendors, butchers and prostitutes — all despised minorities — shaped the constitutional culture.
The Constitution came alive in the popular imagination so much that ordinary people attributed meaning to its existence, took recourse to it, and argued with it. Focusing on the use of constitutional remedies by citizens against new state regulations seeking to reshape the society and economy, De illustrates how laws and policies were frequently undone or renegotiated from below using the state’s own procedures.
De examines four important cases that set legal precedents: a Parsi journalist’s contestation of new alcohol prohibition laws, Marwari petty traders’ challenge to the system of commodity control, Muslim butchers’ petition against cow protection laws, and sex workers’ battle to protect their right to practice prostitution.
Exploring how the Indian Constitution of 1950 enfranchised the largest population in the world, A People’s Constitution considers the ways that ordinary citizens produced, through litigation, alternative ethical models of citizenship.