Colonial Countryside: Facing up to Britain’s murky past



“We have a myth of ‘Britannia rules the waves’ and making Britain ‘Great’, but we don’t want to address the fact that Britannia ruling the waves is to do with the slave trade, colonialism, Empire and massacre, as well as trade in tobacco, sugar and salt,” he continues.

He believes that now more than ever, Britain’s story of self and who makes the nation needs broadening. “Our sense of nation today is very different to 25 years ago and people, especially young people, have to be represented in the heritage sector – museums, galleries and National Trust properties – because they’re repositories. If younger generations don’t see their heritages represented in these spaces, they’re not going to go,” he says.

As the bringing down of Colston’s statue shows, ignorance of Britain’s past is far from bliss, and as XazQ so eloquently puts it, harms our future. “Colonial Countryside has made me realise that our present is based on our past, and our present will shape our future. The British Empire has made Great Britain the way it is today – if we carry on not talking about it, we would be taking history for granted and future generations won’t know about it, and that makes our future bleaker,” she says.

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