Call for Papers for the Conference Session: Urban Fallism: Monuments and Iconoclasm


Conference Details: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, London, 29 August to 1 September 2017.
Details of the Session Convenors: Professor Dr Sybille Frank, Institute for Sociology, TU Darmstadt,
Dr Mirjana Ristic, Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Sociology, TU Darmstadt,
Topic and Aims of the Session: Monuments in urban space often express desires of state governments and political leaders to assert political power and establish a social order and hierarchy. Public statues, columns, and arches can be used as elements of political iconography. Through their spatial distribution, form, uses and meanings they can convey political myths and stabilize or legitimize political authority. In the context of societal changes, monuments as symbols of political regimes can also be contested and toppled by opposing and/or marginalized groups in the society in order to testify to a new era.

This session seeks to explore the phenomenon of ‘urban fallism’ by focusing on the manifold ways in which the action of pulling down and/or removing a monument operates as a means of political struggle. We conceive fallism as a form of urban iconoclasm - a deliberate targeting and destruction of an urban image or landmark that stands for a political authority, ideology or order. We welcome theoretic and empirical contributions which investigate the spatial, social and political causes, dimensions, implications and consequences of the monuments’ fall and its afterlife.
We particularly encourage the submission of papers which explore (but are not limited to) the following themes and questions:

  • Urban, social and political contexts of ‘urban fallism’: fallism in the processes of decolonisation, in the former communist countries, in the context of political conflict and war, in the processes of democratisation and in the struggle against totalitarian regimes.

  • Actors involved in iconoclastic process and practices: public actors including the state or the city government, institutions and administration vs. private actors including resistance movements, grassroots activists, associations, student protesters.

  • Physical and symbolic transformations of the monuments before, during and after their fall, through:

  • uses of the monuments: occupation, appropriation, adaptation, vandalism, artistic transformations.

  • practices of removing the monuments: lifting up, pulling down, breaking the monuments, etc.

  • dealing with the monuments’ material traces and remains: leaving the feet of the leader or the monuments’ pedestal, voiding, purifying, renaming their place.

  • transformation of meanings of the past embedded in monuments: reinterpreting, rewriting, erasing, forgetting the past.

  • Political roles of the monuments’ fall:

    • as a means of struggle for political power and a ‘weapon’ in political conflict,

    • as a form of political insurgency, protest and resistance,

    • as a means of empowering the opposing and/or marginalized social groups to claim their right to the city and, more broadly, their place and recognition in the society.

    • as a catalyst for democracy, human rights, social justice.

    • as a catalyst for political change.

Instruction for Authors: An abstract of up to 300 words is to be submitted to the editors by email. The submission deadline is Sunday the 12th of February 2017.

Yujie Zhu