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Talk: Decolonising the Monument, Rethinking the Memorial

Talk: Decolonising the Monument, Rethinking the Memorial

Professor Annie E. Coombes, Birkbeck, University of London as part of Beyond Contact: Postcolonial Approaches to Art series


As a counterpoint to the rise of the nationalist right (again) in Europe, the United States and elsewhere in the world, there has been an increased demand on many university campuses, for institutions to address colonial amnesia and to actively decolonize the curriculum.

Public statues were also key components of this process, particularly the removal of monuments dedicated to the "heroes" of the colonial period. Using examples from Kenya, Spain and South Africa, this lecture considers the ways how the violent past targeting civilian populations can be remembered today. It also investigates alternative forms of collective memory which enables a shared and more organic engagement with our history. 

Professor Annie E. Coombes is Founding Director of the Peltz Gallery and Professor of Material and Visual Culture in the Department of Art History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is a cultural historian specialising in the history and culture of British colonialism and its legacy in the present, particularly in Africa. Annie has produced key publications that investigate contemporary state and community-led memorial projects and museum approaches to difficult histories, including: History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa (2003) and Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya (with L. Hughes and Karega-Munene) (2013).

Date: Tuesday 15 October
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Venue: Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building
Ticket information: £6/£4/free to UoP students via SPiA/ free to 18 and under with Young Arts Pass