Between 1995 and 2002 more than forty commemorative monuments were built in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. Their number, scale, presence, and placement make them striking additions to the city's built environment. The monument project is associated with the presidency of Alpha Oumar Konaré, an archaeologist and historian. As public sculptures, the monuments are designed to represent a particular vision of good government, patriotism, and citizenship. They are intended to be national lieux de memoire, wherein citizens, especially young people, can engage in the performance of a shared history and national purpose.
This study takes the capital and its built environment as the primary site for analysis. It considers the role that the city has played in constructing a Malian modernity, and looks at how public monuments contribute to an image of this modernity. It examines messages encoded in the monuments and the ways that these messages are tailored for Malian youth. Finally, it identifies how these monuments have become inserted into the field of commercial and popular images of a Malian modernity that circulate within the city and the nation, and increasingly within a global arena.