Reading a Controversial Statue in the Public Sphere from Local and Postcolonial Perspectives: the Case of Missionary Peerke Donders

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationAcademic


This keynote focuses on material cultural heritage in the public domain related to a sensitive or disputed past, and on the emotions these historical representations can cause among diverse publics. Cultural heritage, such as statues on streets and squares, somehow attract people. They can function as orientation marks. You can meet at that statue, start a parade. You can touch it and play with it. The case-study I present concerns the statue of the Catholic missionary Peerke Donders who nursed lepers in the 19th century in Surinam, when slavery was not abolished yet. The statue shows the missionary full-length. He holds a crucifix in his raised hand; his other hand rests on the head of a kneeling black Surinamese man. While Peerke Donders was beatified by the Pope in 1982 we know nothing about the kneeling man. He has no name, no life story.
Period4 Jul 2022
Held atTechnical University of Munich, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational

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