Statues perform their politics in the present
Published in the Irish Times, June 13th, 2020, in response to “Once you start pulling down statues, where do you stop?”, Opinion & Analysis, June 12th.
Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter’s article on history’s complexities is well made.
Yet it neglects the current controversy’s chief concern – that statues in our streets are political statements in the present.
On the side of history are school curriculums, university departments and, indeed, thoughtful commentators such as Prof Ferriter. These are resources so often unavailable to the marginalised people and communities most harmed by long-standing icons of oppression.
I suspect history will do just fine if some of its bronzes are confined to the museums best equipped to unravelling their complex place in the world, both past and present. – Yours, etc,
Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London.
Two pieces on statues more eloquently put than I can manage:
- Arianne Shahvisi in the London Review of Books https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/mound-of-the-dead-men
- Simon Sharma in the FT: https://www.ft.com/content/1117dfb6-8e51-46ec-a74b-59973a96a85a