Josephine Bonaparte was from a slave holding family and narrowly escaped the guillotine during the Reign of Terror.
Josephine Bonaparte was from a slave holding family and narrowly escaped the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. Image: WAGBi20Bn-3hOA at Google Cultural Institute Wikimedia CC0

Who will deal with the real issues once the statues are out of sight?

The death of George Floyd due to police brutality sparked a new wave of #BlackLivesMatter movement which saw demolition, vandalisation and annihilation of statues of historic figures who had racist, imperialist or colonialist as a symbolic gesture to remove these figures from their high pedestal, literally. Steven Stegerss and Marie-Louise Ryback-Jansen talk about how one can deal with the situation.

Many of these figures glorified in stone were heralded for their heroic actions, philanthropy, or other accomplishments without acknowledgment of the human rights violations committed in achieving these deeds. These statues to many signify deep systematic and structural inequalities. How can these problems be addressed? Placarding, additive elements, or counter monuments can serve to contextualize historical legacies, fostering debate and discussion. An example is the beheaded statue of Josephine Bonaparte splattered with blood in Martinique which captures France’s culpability in slave trade.

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