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Difficult Discourse: The Language of Confederate Monuments and Racial Conflict
October 11, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
After the toppling of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam on the UNC campus in August 2018 there was considerable discourse on campus about the history of the statue, and the social and political implications of its presence, its removal, and its possible restoration. These were (and are) needed conversations. But missing from the discussion was a critical awareness of how we were talking about this monument. Yet, in many ways, language played a central role in the controversy: it was the discovery of words spoken at the dedication that brought into public awareness the real meaning of the monument, and that inspired campus groups to protest and ultimately bring down the statue. We feel that the time is ripe for a public discourse with experts on the connections between language and racial identity and racial conflict, who can help increase our awareness of how we are using language to express our strong emotions about these difficult issues. Linguistic discourse is, after all, the primary way we productively bridge our divergent experiences and points of view; it is at the very core of any peaceful and respectful interchange of ideas.
This event will feature talks by five scholars in complementary areas (linguistics, communication, rhetoric, library science, sociology) about their research on these and related topics, as well as a panel discussion with additional expert faculty from UNC.
Light refreshments will be served.