Dan Hicks, professor of contemporary archaeology at the University of Oxford and author of The Brutish Museums (2021,) argues that removing statues is not erasing history:

Culture Minister Oliver Dowden reacted with outrage this summer when Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol tore down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston and hurled it into the city’s harbor. Now he has issued “a ministerial diktat” to the entire heritage sector, warning that the government “does not support the removal of statues or other similar objects” and stating-with no hint of irony-that institutions “should not be taking actions motivated by activism or politics. “

Museums that alter their exhibits, he suggested, could lose their funding. But as all curators know, history is not a static recitation of facts, but a living process of interpretation. That’s why Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History removed its “race science” display of human skulls back in 1946, “as anthropology started the ongoing task of dismantling its racist infrastructure after the victory over fascism.” The Black Lives Matter activists who have forced a reckoning with our colonialist past are not “canceling culture, but are resisting racism while expanding and improving our collective knowledge.” Dowden screeches that these campaigners are rewriting history. What he does not understand is that “all history is rewriting history, or else it quickly becomes myth.”

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