Disputed Monuments, Honorees, and Symbols on Campus

Thursday, February 10, 2022

1:00 – 2:00 pm PST  |  4:00 – 5:00 pm EST


Event Description:

Since 2015, students, faculty, and staff have openly expressed their displeasure with controversial memorials on campus. In South Africa student defacement of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at University of Cape Town sparked the national “Fallist” (#Rhodes Must Fall, #Fees Must Fall) decolonization movement. In the US, dozens of memorials to Confederate soldiers, colonizers, slaveholders, and Ku Klux Klan leaders were removed, and hundreds more disputed. In Canada, Ryerson University made the courageous decision to change the university’s name and Dalhousie University and Wilfred Laurier University are problematizing the unvarnished images of the figures after which they are named. Disputing memorials – statues, building names, honorifics, and monuments – is increasingly seen as crucial activism for improving campus climate and diversity in the community.

This panel will explore the politics of memorials and naming of institutions in Canada and beyond, from Ainsley Carry’s 2021 book on disputed memorials at 25 US colleges and through Catherine Ellis’ work on the Standing Strong Task Force at Ryerson University, to Tonya Davidson’s studies of the social lives of statues in Ottawa. The panel will be chaired by Handel Wright who has worked on South Africa’s “Fallist” Movement.



Ainsley Carry is a three-time graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in Higher Education Administration. He also earned Masters degrees in Business Administration and Studies in Law from Auburn University and the University of Southern California, respectively. Carry’s career includes vice presidencies at Auburn University, the University of Southern California (2013–2019), and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (2019–present). In his second book, Washington Next? Disputed Monuments, Honorees, and Symbols on Campus, Carry tackles a complicated leadership challenge — confronting memorial landscapes that marginalize students of color. Providing an environment where all students thrive is an ethical responsibility for us all. School memorials are deeply rooted in an inescapable American history that requires us to grapple with the truth.

Catherine Ellis is an associate professor in the Department of History at Ryerson* University (*renaming in progress). In 2020-21, she co-Chaired the Standing Strong Task Force, which developed principles to guide commemoration at the university and respond to the history and legacy of its namesake, Egerton Ryerson.

Tonya Davidson is an Instructor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. Her research interests have focused on questions of memory, national belonging, and the built environment. More specifically, Tonya has spent many years studying the social lives of statues in Ottawa. She received her PhD in Sociology from the university of Alberta.



Handel Kashope Wright is Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, Professor of Educational Studies and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, University of British Columbia.  He is co-editor of the book series African and Diasporic Cultural Studies (University of Toronto Press) and Associate Editor of the journal Critical Arts.  Prof. Wright has published extensively on continental and diasporic African cultural studies, cultural studies of education, critical multiculturalism and its alternatives, qualitative research and curriculum theorizing, including being author of A Prescience of African Cultural Studies (Peter Lang, 2004) and co-editor of several books including Transnationalism and Cultural Studies (Routledge, 2012); Precarious International Multicultural Education (Sense, 2012);  The Promised Land: History and Historiography of the Black Experience in Chatham-Kent and Beyond (University of Toronto, 2014) and The Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (University of Toronto Press, 2022).  Dr. Wright’s community engagement includes service on the Mayor of Vancouver’s Advisory Committee on Black History Month and the City of Vancouver External Advisory Committee on Equity and Diversity.




One response to “Disputed Monuments, Honorees, and Symbols on Campus”

  1. James Torrie

    Wish to join presentation. Thanks.

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