Monuments as Cultural and Critical Objects : From Mesolithic to Eco-queer book cover
1st Edition

Monuments as Cultural and Critical Objects
From Mesolithic to Eco-queer

ISBN 9780367186753
Published November 26, 2021 by Routledge
294 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Monuments as Cultural and Critical Objects explores monuments as political, psychical, social, and mystical objects. Incorporating autoethnography, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, postcolonialism, and queer ecology, Houlton argues for a radical, interdisciplinary approach to our monument-culture. 

Tracing historical developments in monuments alongside contemporary movements such as Rhodes Must Fall and Black Lives Matter, Houlton provides an in-depth critique of monument sites, as well as new critical and conceptual methodologies for thinking across the field. Alongside analysis of monuments to the Holocaust, colonial figures, and LGBTQIA+ subjects, this book provides new critical engagements with the work of D.W. Winnicott, Marion Milner, Jacques Derrida, Edward Said, Eve Sedgwick, and others. Houlton traces the potential for monuments to exert great influence over our sense of self, nation, community, sexuality, and place in the world. Exploring the psychic and physical spaces these objects occupy—their aesthetics, affects, politics, and powers—this book considers how monuments can challenge our identities, beliefs, and our very notions of remembrance.

The interdisciplinary nature of Monuments as Cultural and Critical Objects means that it is ideally placed to intervene across several critical fields, particularly museum and heritage studies. It will also prove invaluable to those engaged in the study of monuments, psychoanalytic object relations, decolonization, queer ecology, radical death studies, and affect theory.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Introduction: ‘Face the Dark Confusion’: Experiencing Monuments


Part I. The Monument: Histories and Theories


1 The Monument and the Arts of Memory

2 Theorising the Monument


Part II. The Monument and Psychoanalysis


3 The Monument, the Holocaust, and the Crypt: Rachel Whiteread, Jacques Derrida, and Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok’s Cryptonymy

4 D.W. Winnicott and the Destruction of the Monument

5 Countermonuments, Transitional Objects, and the Fear of Breakdown


Part III. Monuments, Colonialism, and Imperial Spaces


6 Monuments and Colonial Domination

7 Cecil Rhodes, Oriel College, and the Will to Change


8 Decolonising Edward Colston in Bristol: The Contrapuntal Monument


Part IV: Queer Monuments


9 LGBTQIA+ Monuments, Sacred Heterotopias, and the Fantasy of Purity 


10 Stonewall, Political Visibility, and the Pressures of LGBTQIA+ Memorialisation


11 Paranoid Monuments, Eve Sedgwick, and Queer Remembrance: (Or, You Probably Think This Monument Is About You)


12 The Monument and Queer Ecology


Epilogue: Mesolithic Monuments, ecosystemic collapse, and Hope in the Time of Coronavirus



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Thomas Houlton is an academic, writer, and editor based in York, UK. Educated at the University of Cambridge and New York University, he gained his PhD from the University of Sussex, where he also worked at the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence. He has had both critical and creative writing published in journals and magazines.