With Colonial tales, trails and traces Nicholas Lewis a critical guide to understanding Belgium's colonisation of Congo and how it continues to reinforce racist stereotypes. It's a true eye-opener with a clear message: because of the continued presence of traces and imprints of the country’s colonial past in Belgian society and its streets, Belgium remains a fundamentally racist country.
The book takes Brussels’ colonial imprints – found in many of its statues, squares, street names, monuments, buildings and institutions - as a starting point to dive into Belgium’s colonisation of Congo, focusing specifically on the communes of Etterbeek, Ixelles and Schaerbeek as well as the areas surrounding the Place Royale and Cinquantenaire. With an entire chapter devoted to Tervuren’s controversial AfricaMuseum, as well as perfunctory essays by seasoned decolonial and anti-racist experts Véronique Clette-Gakuba, Anne M. Georgine Dibua, François Makanga and Anne Wetsi Mpoma, Colonial tales, trails and traces highlights the corrosive impact colonisation continues to have at every layers of contemporary Belgian society.
The important and gripping message of this book is enhanced by its powerful design by Alliage, featuring photos of monuments, streets and museum rooms by Philippe Braquenier as well as artistic interventions by Laura Nsengiyumva: in collaboration with Friedle De Meyere she created Countermonuments, a series of photos as performative answers to the monuments featured in the book.
Header + above image: © Laura Nsengiyumva
Bust of Emile Storms, Nègres marrons monument + interior AfricaMuseum: photos © Philippe Braquenier
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