n De Arte - Confederate soldiers, Voodoo Queens, and Black Indians : monuments and counter-monuments in New Orleans - research

Volume 54 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Despite public outrage from some quarters, claiming that the city’s history was being erased, in 2015 the (white) Mayor of New Orleans, with the support of the black-majority City Council, voted to take down four Confederacy statues. Constructed between 1870 and 1910, these Confederate monuments disseminated the Myth of the Lost Cause—that Southern men had fought the American Civil War in defence of a distinctive way of life— thereby failing to acknowledge the Confederacy’s role in the history of slavery. Despite more than a century of segregation and oppression, African Americans in New Orleans confronted the message of white supremacy and created counter-monuments that offered alternative histories to those erected to the Confederacy. This article concentrates on two examples of counter-monuments in New Orleans: the tomb of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and the Carnival dress of Black Indians. It demonstrates how these counter-monumental forms have historically rejected white entitlement, recalling an alternative vision of New Orleans history that centres on its black identity.

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