Recalling Forgotten Voices

History neglected is as troubling as history erased. We need to rethink the discipline.

A slave registration certificate for a female infant, Jamiela, Cape Town, 27 December 1826. Michael Graham-Stewart/Bridgeman Images.

For those in 2020 who did not support the removal of statues (the Secretary of State for Culture among them, you’ll remember), their dismantling constituted a form of erasure: cancel culture’s elimination of the past, the rewriting of history. Of course, the truth is that the statues being deposed were those of men who had far more literally and violently erased history themselves. They were slave traders and owners, colonisers and imperialists. It was on their watch, with their authority and to their enrichment that humans were enslaved, oppressed, murdered, censored, raped, traumatised, kidnapped and traded as chattel. 

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