Thursday, September 03, 2020

Regressando às estátuas

On statues and history: The dialogue between past and present in public space, por Pippa Catterall (LSE Blogs):

This issue is not new. As long ago as 1868, the statue of ‘Bloody’ Cumberland was removed from Cavendish Square in London and melted down. Neither his sanguinary associations nor his artistic representation were felt to be worthy of commemoration or retention. The British have also replaced other people’s statues in the process of replacing one empire with another. That of Hermann von Wissmann, for instance, was removed from Dar es Salaam after the British conquered German East Africa during the First World War. They sent it to the University of Hamburg. As Wissmann’s reputation shifted from imperial hero to racist villain, the statue was first attacked and then removed in 1967-68. It has taken Bristol 52 years to catch up with its German counterpart. Now, however, both statues have become monuments to anti-imperial and anti-racist protests. The dialogue between Past and Present they represent has dramatically altered.

Because of their role in this dialogue, statues cannot be treated as sacrosanct. They represent what people in the Past chose to celebrate and memorialise, they do not represent history. Indeed, teaching history is almost never the reason why they are erected. Instead, statues in public spaces since Antiquity have most typically been used to represent power and authority. It is therefore no coincidence that so many of the Confederate monuments that have proved so controversial in America in recent years were erected less to commemorate the US Civil War than to express the power relations of the Jim Crow era decades later.

No comments: