2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Colston and Churchill: A Philosophical Investigation into Civil Disobedience

Jack McGinn, 2022, Stage 3

On the back of Britain’s anti-racism movement, arguably civil disobedience is becoming an ever more prominent feature in the protester’s arsenal for raising awareness regarding their social and political agendas. Naturally the project concerns itself with understanding and assessing whether civil disobedience is a necessary attribute in bringing about governance and increasing the potential for change. The project will focus upon the subsequent acts of civil disobedience associated with the Black Lives Matter movement (‘BLM’); the vandalism and the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue (Bristol) and the vandalism of the Sir Winston Churchill statue (Westminster). However, the significance of the project’s enquiry lies within questioning the treatment of these statues and thus the nuances of the discussion are embedded within the statues themselves. These will be analysed through conceptual exploration of property, representation, and jurisprudence.
Whilst recognising that there are some points of comparison between the statues and their treatment, much of the project will target their differences and aim to reach an understanding through wider analysis of civil disobedience itself. Arguably, culminating in an analysis of Colston’s role within the Bristol community versus the role of Churchill within the national community. Consequently, the project will recognise that it is not a simple task of addressing whether the man set in stone was ‘bad’ or ‘good,’ but much rather a more complex exploration of memorialisation and representation.

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