Oxford Elects to Keep Statue of Cecil Rhodes

Safe, for now

Safe, for now

A recent movement amongst students at Oxford University in the UK calling for the removal of a statue depicting legendary British entrepreneur and colonial leader Cecil Rhodes has fallen partially flat after the university refused to remove the statue. The university has however agreed to add a description accompanying the statue, providing “a clear historical context to explain why it is there.” The controversy came about after a group of students organized into a group known as “Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford,” and protested the statue’s presence at Oriel College in conjunction with its anti-imperialist mission. The group’s official website reads:

“Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford (RMFO) is a movement determined to decolonize the institutional structures and physical space in Oxford and beyond. We seek to challenge the structures of knowledge production that continue to mould a colonial mindset that dominates our present. Our movement addresses Oxford’s colonial legacy on three levels:

1) Tackling the plague of colonial iconography (in the form of statues, plaques and paintings) that seeks to whitewash and distort history.

2) Reforming the Euro-centric curriculum to remedy the highly selective narrative of traditional academia – which frames the West as sole producers of universal knowledge – by integrating subjugated and local epistemologies. This will create a more intellectually rigorous, complete academy.

3) Addressing the underrepresentation and lack of welfare provision for Black and minority ethnic (BME) amongst Oxford’s academic staff and students.

We are determined to tackle Oxford University’s problem with race – and its perpetuation of the legacies of empire in all their insidious forms – from a multitude of angles.”

This movement and it’s arguments illuminate the reality that racial tensions are heightening not only on American college campuses, but in overseas university systems as well.

  • http://www.leninisstillaround.wordpress.com Karl G.

    Very interesting text about a very complex matter: historical memory. In Germany, where I live, not only the III. Reich, also the GDR is still a very hot issue, and there are hundreds of different opinions about what to do. A recent artistic project has gathered all the incredible stories of the last statues of Lenin still standing nowadays, showing different ways of leading with the past. Check it at http://www.leninisstillaround.com