On March 2, 2017 the KNU NPM Resource Center hosted a guest lecture of Moira O’Shea, PhD student of Sociology Department, University of Chicago, USA, on the theme “Doing Sociology in Public Spaces - Monuments, Memory, and Questions of Nationhood”, which was attended by 42 students, and three faculty representatives. At the lecture, Moira O’Shea presented the recent trends in scholarship that take up the relationship between monuments and memory, as well as the questions of identity and nation. The lecturer presented two research projects as examples of how these ideas may be used in practice. The first project dealt with a contemporary controversy over Confederate statues in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, which honor representatives of the Southern side of the US Civil War (1861-1865).

In addition, Moira O’Shea spoke about her current research in Bishkek, which focuses on the way in which public art is produced and the narratives that are involved in decision-making processes surrounding the installation and removal of statuary, as well as the way these projects are perceived and interpreted by citizens.  Moira O’Shea highlighted that those projects could be seen in each of the fifteen capital cities that have emerged from the Soviet Union, but Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, offers a unique opportunity to see the interplay of memory and culture at work in the changing statuary of Bishkek since 1991.

The lecturer highlighted that in recent years, there has been renewed interest in questions that address the intersection of memory and politics, and also there has been renewed interest in questions of materiality. These intersections create a rich area of inquiry. At the end of the lecture, she addressed to the audience with following questions: “How do we represent the nation symbolically?”, “What is the relationship between memory and the symbolic objects that surround us?” The students showed great interest and expressed different views and exchanged with their ideas. The lecture ended with lively discussions.

Photo 1 Moira Oshea

Moira O’Shea, PhD student of Sociology Department, University of Chicago, USA, with students of International Relations Faculty at the Kyrgyz National University

Photo 2 Moira Oshea

The lecturer presents to the participants of guest lecture recent trends in scholarship that take up the relationship between monuments and memory

Photo 3 Moira Oshea

Moira O’Shea tells about one of the projects aimed at the concept of modern controversy over Confederate statues in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, which honor representatives of the Southern side of the US Civil War (1861-1865)