Anna Monument
Anna Somner

Anna recently graduated with a First Class Honours in History with English from the University of Plymouth. Her background is museums and heritage, with a focus on the themes of decolonisation and contested history. Anna’s dissertation, entitled ‘From imperialism to repatriation: the Royal Cornwall Museum as a case study in changing responses to indigenous artefacts in collections’, explored the museum’s collection of Māori taiahas (indigenous New Zealanders wooden spears) and discussed decolonisation and repatriation, comparing the Cornish case with three other museums in the South West. In 2020, she was awarded an IGNITE Micro-Internships, University of Plymouth, becoming a Digital History intern under the supervision of Professor Daniel Maudlin of Cornerstone Heritage. In this role, she has been researching and writing about contested heritage and the statues debate, with a focus on local history.

Contested heritage: statues and public memorialisation

Working from a personal perspective, Anna’s podcast opens up some of the complexities around the statues and public memorialisation debate in Britain. Protests following the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American who was killed under US police custody, created a wave of global protests steered by the Black Lives Matter movement. In the UK this re-sparked and triggered local, regional and national protests. The podcast focuses on the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, and the contested heritage in Plymouth, UK, with the renaming of Sir John Hawkins Square, the first English slave trader.

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Protester kneeling over the neck of the toppled statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston for 8 minutes. Photo by Colin Moody via Twitter