Monuments in Replica: Imperial Commemorations in Britain and its Colonies

This talk focuses on colonial statues in the British empire that were replicas. Through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, replicas worked to represent art, antiquities, and history for those who might not travel to see the putatively “real” statue. From the Lincoln statue in Parliament Square to the statue of John Lawrence on Waterloo Place, doubles helped to mark the empire’s reach in Britain and abroad.

Durba Ghosh is Professor of History at Cornell University, with research interests in History of British colonialism in the Indian subcontinent, popular and radical political movements, and gender and sexuality. Her recent publications include Gentlemanly Terrorists: Political Violence and the Colonial State in India, 1919-1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), which focusses on an underground radical political movement in early and mid-twentieth century India and the ways in which political violence against the British colonial state became an important yet historically underemphasized form of protest, and Sex and the Family in Colonial India: the making of empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), which details conjugal relationships between colonial officials and residents and local women in India. She has also published extensively on historiography, gender and colonialism and the politics of emergency laws. Her next project focuses on commemorations of freedom fighters, and the ways in which public monuments and statues to mark India’s independence struggle have become a part of India’s political landscape. As a part of that project, Ghosh is a member of the new collaboration group “Unsettled Monuments, Unstable Heritage,” funded by the Radical Collaborations initiative in the humanities. Ghosh currently serves on the Cornell University Press faculty board and as a member of the University Faculty Committee, and is inaugural director of the Humanities Scholars Program, based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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