Tours Inside the Snow Globe
Ottawa Monuments and National Belonging
The dynamic lives and disruptive potential of Ottawa monuments.
The toppling of monuments globally in the last few years has highlighted the potency of monuments as dynamic and affectively loaded participants in society.
In the context of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, monuments inspire colonial and imperial nostalgia, compelling visitors to consistently re-imagine Canada as a white, Anglophone nation, built through the labour of white men: politicians, soldiers, and businessmen. At the same time, Ottawa monuments allow for dominant affective relationships to the nation to be challenged, demonstrated through subtle and explicit forms of defacement and other interactions that compel us to remember colonial violence, pacifism, violence against women, racisms.
Organized as a series of walking tours throughout Ottawa, the chapters in Tours Inside the Snow Globe demonstrate the affective capacities of monuments and highlight how these monuments have ongoing relationships with their sites, the city, other monuments, and local, deliberate, national, and casual communities of users. The tours focus on the lives of a monument to an unnamed Indigenous scout, the National War Memorial, Enclave: the Women’s Monument, and the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights. Two of the tours offer analyses of the ambivalent representations of women and Indigeneity in Ottawa’s statue landscape.
“While much has been written about monuments in the Canadian context, in general they have been seen as embodying the values of imperialism, nationalism, and sometimes gender relations, mostly as expressions of power relations. Far less has been written about kinds of multiple affective work they do in the present. Davidson’s creative and enjoyable study, then, breaks new ground. Davidson takes our understanding of these Ottawa monuments in new directions that will shake up the field of contemporary public memory. Tours Inside the Snow Globe, with its fresh approaches and the attention it pays to monuments’ affect, is very important.” —Cecilia Morgan, University of Toronto, author of Sweet Canadian Girls Abroad: A Transnational History of Stage and Screen Actresses (2022)