Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Dundee historian calls for truth and reconciliation commission to resolve ‘racist’ statues row

Dr Billy Kenefick
Dr Billy Kenefick

A Dundee historian has suggested that a truth and reconciliation commission could be set up locally and nationally to decide the fate of ‘racist’ statues targeted by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

Billy Kenefick, who retired from Dundee University in 2016, said communities across the country needed to “give some serious thought” on how to commemorate the past.

However this needed to be done in a “transparent and public fashion” and he did not see the situation being resolved any time soon.

The toppling of the Edward Colston ‘slave trader’ statue in Bristol last weekend epitomised the urgency of the BLM movement while a “topple the racists” website has since published a list of at least 78 statues “celebrating slavery and racism” it wants torn down.

In Tayside, where industry had historic links to the slave trade, the list includes the Dundee statue of Blairgowrie-born politician and reformer George Kinloch, known as the ‘Radical Laird’, and on Dunmore Hill, overlooking Comrie, the Melville Monument commemorates Henry Dundas – an 18th century politician who obstructed the abolition of the slave trade and advanced the exploitation of the Empire.

Dr Kenefick said: “Written history can appear in various forms but it can always be scrutinised and questioned and can generate alternative and sometimes competing narratives as a result.

“Once a statue is erected it is in effect frozen in time and the historical context behind the decision to erect these statues is not always evident.

“But it is still part of our history – our past – even if not always a very acceptable or as time moves welcome by future generations.”

Dr Kenefick said BLM actions had raised fundamental questions such as whether physical commemorations like plaques or street names should remain in public view if a reassessment of their historical importance is suggested.

However, some examples might be easier to resolve than others.

“Removing Confederate Civil War symbols in the United States seems straight forward enough not least when several top US military and other high ranking armed services personnel seem to agree,” he said.

“The Confederate leaders who are honoured in that regard are declared as traitors as they fought against what constituted the United States government and its democracy.

“Likewise Edward Colston’s statue might be viewed likewise in reference to his role on the brutal and inhuman international slave trade.

“But who decides what is erected and when?  Baden Powell’s statue in Poole was erected in 2008 I believe. Who thought that this was a good idea to erect this in the first place given his support for the Nazi’s and Adolf Hitler among other perceived character flaws not least his well held imperialist and racist view?

“And consider the situation with the Duke of Sutherland’s Statue near Golspie which towers over the same lands that he helped to clear. For some time it has been threatened with destruction.

“It does bring into sharp relief a problem that lives with us and communities across the country as to what we do with these monuments.

“But it is a conversation and discussion we must have.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]