After the Monuments Fall

My manuscript with Kanika Khanna presents evidence that Confederate Monument Removals in whites’ counties leaded to a brief increase in whites’ reports of racial prejudice.

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 American’s county caused a brief increase in two different measures of racial prejudice. The effect, unsurprisingly, did not hold among African Americans.

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.


Where Confederate Monuments were removed from the former CSA.

SPLC “Whose Heritage?” Dataset supplemented by authors’ research, and joined to TIGRIS county shapefiles. 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 policy analyst working in Kalamazoo, MI.