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Accepted Paper:

Faidherbe Must Fall: The Legacies of Colonialism in West Africa  
Ferdinand de Jong

Paper short abstract:

In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement resulted in the toppling of monuments all over the world. This paper examines how the toppling of a monument in Senegal enabled discussions about responsibility for colonial legacies in West Africa.

Paper long abstract:

On the morning of 5 September 2017, the statue of Louis Leon Faidherbe that had formed the focal point of Saint-Louis since 1886, had fallen. The effigy lay down, next to its pedestal, its face buried in the sand of the public garden that it had decorated for 130 years. In the accounts given in the newspaper, the statue had been toppled by a thunderstorm. This explanation seemed implausible to quite a few inhabitants of Saint-Louis who had mixed feelings about the toppling of the effigy of the man considered by many the ‘founder’ of modern Senegal. In subsequent discussions in national media, the question of the toppling of Faidherbe’s statue in the former capital of French West Africa became entangled with a wider discussion about the achievements of the French General and the human costs at which he had achieved them. At stake was the legacy of colonialism, its merits and its traumas. In 2020, informed by the death of George Floyd and the world-wide activism generated by the Black Lives Matter movement, the toppling of the monument acquired yet another momentum in a wider reckoning with race. This paper situates the toppling of the statue of Faidherbe in wider discussions about the legacies of colonialism and racism. Raising the question of the monument’s toppling, it addresses the paradox how obscurity around the responsibility for the toppling of a colonial monument enabled a discussion about the legacies of colonialism by attributing responsibility to the founder of the colony.

Panel Speak22b
Art, response, and responsibility II
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -