After the Monuments Fall

This working paper (with Kanika Khanna) presents evidence that Confederate Monument Removals in whites’ ZIP codes leaded to an increase in whites’ reports of racial prejudice that endured for over a year.

In this paper, we draw on scholarship on white racial attitudes and contextual political behavior to develop a theory of how Confederate Monument Removals shape the political attitudes of American whites. We draw on data from numerous vintages of the Cooperative Congressional Elections Study, and the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify the effect of Confederate Monument Removals.

In brief, we find that the removal of a Confederate Monument in a white Americans’ ZIP code corresponded to an increase in their scores on DeSante and Smith’s FIRE scale that endured for almost a year.

Next steps

This research motivates deeper investigation into:

  • the ontology of so-called “modern racism:” what is modern about white Americans’ investment into the historical legacy of the Confederacy?
  • how contextual shocks shape Americans racial/ethnic identities.

Above

The timing of Confederate Monument Removals in American’s ZIP codes.

SPLC “Whose Heritage?” Dataset supplemented by authors’ research. Data source: Southern Poverty Law Center. 2019. “Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy.” February 01. Download data.

Colin Cepuran Written by:

Colin Cepuran is a political scientist and a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University.