MAA Public Statement on the Assault on the U.S. Capitol


The violent assault on the U. S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, which led to the tragic loss of five lives, represents yet another moment in American history that confronts us with the precarity of our democracy and its enduring, systemic inequalities, its underlying racist policies, and the failure of policing. The Medieval Academy of America unequivocally condemns the actions of those who stormed the Capitol and those who offered them support.

The presence of pseudo-medieval symbols and costumes among the rioters in the Capitol also reminded us once again of the particular responsibility we have as medievalists. Alongside the confederate flag, and anti-Semitic “Camp Auschwitz” tee-shirts, were displayed pseudo-Viking helmets and Norse Valknut tattoos, Templar and crusader crosses, and anti-circumcision posters. Beyond our commitment to identify these symbols and condemn the use of the medieval past to support white nationalism, we recognize our discipline’s complicity in the racist narratives of the past, and our responsibility to advocate unequivocally for anti-racism both in our policies as an organization, and in our teaching and scholarship as individuals. We will continue to think more deeply about how our organization can support members going further to promote social justice and community care.

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