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Seixas, Peter, and Penney Clark. “Murals as Monuments: Students’ Ideas about Depictions of Civilization in British Columbia.” American Journal of Education 110(2) (2004): 146-71.


Around the world people confront monuments that celebrate historical origins, movements, heroes, and triumphs no longer seen as worthy of celebration. While an analysis of these "lieux de memoire" themselves can reveal historical consciousness, the sites become particularly interesting at the moment when they inspire debate, namely, when people ask what can be done with these artifacts of earlier power configurations, outdated modes of understanding, and bygone identities. Recent protests over a series of murals depicting the origins of civilization in British Columbia, located in the central rotunda of the British Columbia Legislative Buildings, offer this opportunity. This article analyzes a sample of 53 essays written by senior high school students, responding to the dilemma of what to do about the murals. It explores four different orientations toward the past implicit in the student responses, using theoretical frames adapted from Nietzsche and Ruesen. These have implications for identities, public policies, and the teaching and learning of history in the present.