Memory from Below: Emma Goldman, Counter-Monuments, and the Politics of Public Memory


  • Angela Shpolberg Brandeis University


Two public memorials dedicated to Emma Goldman (1869–1940), a radical early feminist, are examined within a broader discussion about the preservation of feminist collective memory. Goldman was a prominent anarchist and advocate for women’s rights, labour rights, and freedom of speech, who was in conversation with the American women’s suffrage movement throughout her life—and was one of the rare critical voices pushing the movement toward ever more progressive positions from the left. Contrasting traditional forms of commemoration with the “counter-monuments” designed by artists and spontaneously erected by her admirers allows us to explore the effects of such memorials on the forms public memory can take and the stakes involved in those formal choices.

Author Biography

Angela Shpolberg, Brandeis University

Angela Shpolberg is a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, a Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.