Following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Black Lives Matter protests have erupted around the world. On the 7th June, 2020 during a BLM protest in Bristol the statue of Edward Colston, a prominent figure in the transatlantic slave trade, was toppled by protestors, dragged down to the harbour and thrown in the water. This was a historic moment for the city and the UK, and it was an event which resonated around the world. It added fuel to a conversation which has been taking place for many years about the presence of colonial violence in public space in the UK and around the world. Campaigns such as Rhodes Must Fall, the protests focused on statues of confederate generals in the United States and many others aimed at statues that represent colonial violence all draw attention to how history is present in public space and challenge the official historical narratives crafted by states.
We met up with our colleague Adom Philogene Heron, who is an anthropologist specialising on the ethnography of the Caribbean specifically kinship, fatherhood and, more recently, storms. Raised in Bristol, Adom is intimately familiar with the city’s colonial history.
In this episode Adom guides us through the city, talking with us about the history Bristol that is present in the streets and buildings and that emerges from the gaps between the cobblestones. He reflects on the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston and its significance for Bristol, the BLM movement and decolonising movements more broadly.
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