Statues aren’t our history. They’re our archaeology.

Monument to Captain Cook in Melbourne park sprayed with graffiti
Graffiti-sprayed Captain Cook monument in Melbourne’s Edinburgh Gardens. Image courtesy Pat Mitchell on Twitter @patty_mitchell

Recent weeks have seen statues again become a flashpoint for protest and debate. Statues of slave-trader Edward Colston in Bristol and Belgian king Leopold II in Antwerp have been torn down. Statues of Winston Churchill in London, Captain James Cook in Melbourne and Sydney, Robert E. Lee in Virginia, and many others across the world, have been vandalised. After writing a master’s thesis about the…