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UK Statues Recording Project

Recording Decisions and Actions connected with Claims for the Removal/Protection of Statues

in UK Civic Spaces during the Summer of 2020 


Demands to remove or amend monuments are nothing new. However, the current movement is unprecedented in its scale and level of public involvement. Previous discussions over the fate of statues in civic spaces tended to be localised, often confined to specialist committee meetings. The events of recent weeks, however, have seen the debate galvanise the nation as a whole, dominating newsfeeds and trending on social media platforms. In this process, a historicist urban topography is being rejected, and in its place bottom-up grassroots views on the usage and meanings of heritage are being formulated. Capturing this process will provide an invaluable archive through which we can better understand the role which heritage plays in social movements. Ultimately this understanding will offer us the potential to develop policies which align heritage more closely with our collective well-being.


The empty pedestal of the statue of Edward Colton in Bristol

The empty pedestal of the statue of Edward Colton in Bristol by Caitlin Hobbs / CC-BY 3.0

Project Overview

In response, the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre (CHRC) is conducting a six-week recording project. We will focus on two dimensions of the on-going debate: i) the public debate and public actions, as well as the role of advocacy groups; and ii) how core institutions are formulating their responses. We aim to record how the rhetoric develops (if it does), what factors affect the rhetoric (i.e. is it responding to critique from grassroots movements, from politicians or from various spokespersons), and how different statues are drawn into the claims (who instigates this and why). The core institutions interviewed will be grouped into national institutions, museums with collections or roles that pertain to the history of slavery, and civic organisations.


Project Results

The results will be made open access at the end of the project through the University of Cambridge Data Repository and through links on the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre Website. 


Project Team

Project Leaders: Prof Marie Louise Stig Soresnen, Dr Dacia Viejo Rose and Dr Liliana Janik

Project Research Assistants: Dr Mark Haughton, Tom Crowley and Andrea Kocsis

Project Administrator: Ben Davenport