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Designs on the Future

Who Owns the Past?


Thursday, February 25, 2021 between 17.00 - 18.30 CET

Contested monuments and memorials have hit headlines around the world in recent years. These pillars of the public landscape can reinforce historical legacies and trauma, and are increasingly disputed by people working to end oppression and build just and equitable societies. Yet campaigns in public spaces have split opinion and created an easy target for politicization and media frenzy.  

Is rescripting the commemorative landscape essential to tackle underlying structural and historical injustices or could it divert attention from today’s inequities if seen as an end in itself? How can responsible leaders advance memory, healing and reconciliation in deeply-divided societies? Whose voices need to be heard, and what can we learn by sharing experience and innovation across borders?

This special webinar marked a major international collaboration and a landmark publication - Contested Histories in Public Spaces: Principles, Process, Best Practices – that brings together the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, the International Bar Association and Salzburg Global Seminar (dedicated to conflict transformation since 1947).

Watch a recording of this webinar.

This multi-year initiative addresses controversies over statues, memorials, street names and other representations of disputed legacies in public spaces and is creating practical tools for decision-makers, policy planners, educators, and other stakeholders.

Part of Salzburg Global’s Designs on the Future initiative, this debate brought together leaders on the frontline of community and systems change and explored case studies from South Africa and Korea. It was followed by open discussion with the virtual audience. 21st Century Trust was delighted to host this event in association with Salzburg Global.