Resources on Contested Heritage
Bridging Histories is developing resources to help communities everywhere to address challenging history in ways that are transparent, fair, committed to justice, inclusive, and bring people together.
The Colston Statue: What Next? Short Report
In the summer of 2021, the ‘We Are Bristol’ History Commission opened a public engagement about the future of the Colston statue and the plinth. Nearly 14,000 people joined in to share their ideas and views.
This report summarizes our findings and recommendations, which are being shared with the Bristol Mayor and elected officials, to help them decide on next steps.
Short Report - A public-facing report, with engaging infographics. Suitable for classrooms and general audience.
Full Report - A technical report with more details on how we did the survey, who responded, and more voices and views of people who joined in.
Reviewing Contested Heritage: Guidance for Public Bodies
This guidance will help public bodies take responsibility for their memorial landscapes in a way that is transparent, inclusive, accountable, fair and democratic. Given the diversity of public opinion, the treatment of monuments linked to historic injustices like slavery raises unique democratic challenges. Decision- makers must meet needs for belonging and inclusion from different sides of their communities, and must meet duties of justice while navigating reputational risks. A fair, transparent process for reviewing and acting in relation to contested heritage can help decision-makers achieve positive outcomes.
The following report is a practical handbook for public bodies considering or undertaking reviews of local
heritage. Reviewing existing memorials can be a valuable step towards public understanding of history.
Key recommendations are as follows.
Undertaking reviews of monuments and street names: Processes to guide public bodies
The toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol in June 2020 has set in motion a national debate about our heritage and who we continue to commemorate. At least 150 reviews and audits of contested heritage are taking place in the UKs towns, cities and institutions in 2020/21.
This guidance focuses on the best practice in process design rather than what action should be taken with individual monuments. It has informed the processes undertaken by a number of public bodies, including the We Are Bristol History Commission and the Greater London Authority.