Events | Counter-Memories: A Series of Virtual Dialogues

Online | December 8, 2020

In the United States, Germany and throughout the world, citizens are questioning conventional historical narratives and reflecting on the meanings and implications of public monuments. Recent protests and interventions around statues of Confederate generals and figures such as Columbus and Bismarck reflect a yearning to correct and critically re-examine dominant histories and their ongoing legacies in the present.

Every two weeks, the conversation series "Counter-Memories" will investigate a number of international monuments and places of remembrance whose symbolic significance often reveals a great deal about our relationship to history. The Thomas Mann House, the Goethe-Institutes in North America, and Onassis LA will convene artists, activists, and intellectuals for illustrated virtual conversations around historical memory.

Episode 3 will be released on December 8, 2020. Paul Holdengräber will engage in a conversation about a synagogue in Cologne with conceptual artist and Professor for Public Art Mischa Kuball.



Episode 1 – Counter-Memories: Paul Holdengräber & Joel Garcia | Los Angeles

The series started on "Indigenous People's Day," a holiday that is meant to commemorate the history of Native Americans. Curator Paul Holdengräber  talked with artist Joel Garcia about the Serra statue in Los Angeles. A statue in honor of Juniper Serra, who was instrumental in building the California mission system during the Spanish colonization. The statue was removed by activists in June 2020.   

Watch on YouTube


Episode 2 – Counter-Memories: Glenn North, Staci Pratt & Amira El Ahl | Kansas City

This episode focuses on the Levi Harrington Memorial Marker in Kansas City. Harrington was the victim of a racial terror lynching in Kansas City in 1882. To this day, efforts to create a memorial for him are met with denial and vandalism. Poet and activist Glenn North, Staci Pratt (Equal Justice Initiative, Community Remembrance Project of Missouri) and journalist Amira El Ahl discuss how to rectify a lack of recognition of lynching and racial conflict in Missouri.

Watch on YouTube



Counter-Memories is a cooperation between the Thomas Mann House, the Goethe-Institutes North-America, the Onassis Foundation Los Angeles and the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in collaboration with the project “Shaping the Past.”


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