Public Roundtable and Livestream: Not Set in Stone: Remembering Empire and Contesting Statues

by | 15 May 2021 | Events | 0 comments

5-7pm, Weds, 9th June 2021, via Zoom and Youtube

On 7th June 2020, young Bristolians toppled a statue of Edward Colston in the city centre and rolled it into Bristol Harbour. This action marked the culmination of years of contestation, during which Bristolians had sought to displace the material traces of the slave trader in the city’s public space. It was also catalysed by popular support for Black Lives Matter, Britain’s largest anti-racist movement since abolition. In Oxford, a student-led movement has sought since 2016 to remove Oriel College’s statue of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes Must Fall Oxford has emphasised that bringing down the statue is only one component of a much larger agenda: they seek to remove colonial iconography, reform the Eurocentric curriculum, and address the underrepresentation and lack of welfare provision for BME staff and students (‘Our Aim’).

At this roundtable, facilitated by Meghan Tinsley, scholars and activists will discuss why colonial statues matter, what it means to contest them, and how cultural activism links to larger ant-racist, anti-colonial struggles.

Note: This event will be open to the public for free, but registration is required. AFPP delegates are automatically registered, non-delegates can register at Eventbrite. The event will also be livestreamed and archived via our Youtube Channel.

Roundtable Speakers:

Einass Bakhiet is Co-facilitator of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford, which aims to decolonise the space, the curriculum, and the institutional memory at the university. She has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Manchester, where she was President of the Action Palestine student society. She is currently studying the MSc in Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford, researching the intersections between environment, society and political economy.
Joanna Burch-Brown is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Bristol. She has contributed to campaigns to change how Bristol memorializes figures like Edward Colston, and to help Bristol acknowledge and understand its historic role in transatlantic slavery. She has a particular interest is in bridging between different viewpoints and promoting understanding of the positive intentions of people on all sides. In her role as co-chair of the We Are Bristol History Commission, Joanna is directing Bridging Histories, a summer-long learning programme and teaching resource for communities facing issues of contested heritage. She is also part of a team who are writing guidelines for public bodies across the UK carrying out reviews of contested statues and street names.

Simukai Chigudu is Associate Professor of African Politics at the Oxford Department of International Development and Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford University. He is the author of The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe (Cambridge University Press, 2020), an examination of the social and political causes and consequences of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2008/09, the worst in African history. This monograph has just won the Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the American Political Science Association. More generally, Simukai is interested in the social politics of inequality in Africa. He has conducted research in Zimbabwe, Uganda, The Gambia, and Tanzania, and has publications in several leading social science and medical journals. As a student, Simukai was one of the founders of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, of which he writes, ‘Our goal was to slay the racist ideologies that still held sway in various disciplines, to bring more Black people into academia at every level, and to end the glorification of the men who had dedicated their lives to advancing the colonial project.’
Alasdair Doggart is an activist who was involved in the removal of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol. He is the founder of The Bristol Eighteen, realising creative projects to raise funds for grassroots educational organisations teaching anti-racism and history outside of the national curriculum. He has recently featured in the BBC Radio 4 series ‘Descendants’ which explores people’s connections to slavery and how shared history links us together.

Gary Younge is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester. He was previously a columnist and editor-at-large of The Guardian. His most recent work has focussed on youth violence, relating to shootings in the United States, where he was The Guardian correspondent for twelve years, and knife crime in Britain. Throughout his career both his journalism and books have covered social movements in general (and the civil rights movement in particular), inequality, race, immigration, identity and politics. He is currently concentrating his research on the Black presence in post-war Europe. Between 2009 and 2011 he was the Belle Zeller Visiting Professor for Public Policy and Social Administration at Brooklyn College (CUNY). Currently a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, he is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow of Type Media in the US and an editorial board member of the Nation magazine. As a broadcaster, he has made several radio and television documentaries on subjects ranging from gay marriage to Brexit.