Blood Legacies: Confronting our Colonial Past

Blood Legacies: Confronting our Colonial Past

When the statue of Edward Colston was symbolically toppled from a plinth, dragged through the streets of Bristol and hauled into the River Avon last year, historian Professor Olivette Otele said, ‘It was like, finally, finally something is happening that is forcing people to reconsider’. Last year’s Black Lives Matter protests focused the world’s eyes on the ongoing, systematic racism experienced by people of colour across the globe. It seems almost inconceivable that, until then, statues and street names of prominent slavers simply resided placidly in our cities and towns uncontested. Except they had been contested. For decades, historians and activists campaigned against these monuments – which for many glorify the violence, oppression and exploitation underpinning our ‘enlightened civilisation’. What, if anything, has changed? This series explores how the West’s traditional narratives around race and colonialism are increasingly agreed to be toxic and unacceptable, and the legacies such rhetoric continues to have for people in Scotland, the UK and across the world today.


Zoë Wicomb: Questioning South Africa’s Colonial Story

Saturday 14 August 11:30 - 12:30

Every year since 2013, the Windham-Campbell prize has awarded eight writers the impressive sum of $165,000 to support their writing. Just two writers from Scotland have won this prestigious prize: Aminatta Forna and Zoë Wicomb. For many...

Kei Miller: Silence is Violence

Saturday 14 August 16:00 - 17:00

A few years ago, when asked what he sees when he looks at a map, Kei Miller answered ‘I see the things that aren’t there... maps are always interesting to me for what’s left out…’. These gaps and omissions were a key part of the celebrated...

Tara June Winch: The Blood in Your Words

Sunday 15 August 20:15 - 21:15

Tara June Winch’s third novel The Yield begins with an invitation for the reader to take language into their mouths, to savour rolling the letters around and the sound that they produce: ‘I was born on Ngurambang,’ Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi...

Monique Roffey: Conjuring the Spirit of the Caribbean

Available from 13:15 on Tuesday 17 August

The Mermaid of Black Conch is an adventurous novel set on a Caribbean island, deploying magic realism to tell very real truths about the region and its history of colonisation and slavery. We are thrilled to welcome its author to the Festival to talk...

Alex Renton & Lisa Williams: Scotland's Black History Matters

Wednesday 18 August 17:30 - 18:30

BSL Interpreted
It is still a misconception and a deflection tactic used in Scotland that we 'were not as bad as the English’, but as statues were toppled during the Black Lives Matter rallies last year, people were armed with new knowledge and a curiosity to reckon...
French-Senegalese author David Diop, whose At Night All Blood Is Black has won this year’s International Booker Prize, joins us with translator Anna Moschovakis to discuss their unforgettable short novel. In a story set in the French trenches of the...

Scholastique Mukasonga: Reclaiming Rwanda’s Stories

Friday 20 August 14:15 - 15:15

The genocide of 1994 in Rwanda continues to cast a long shadow over the country – and over its European colonisers. Belgian colonists and missionaries originally favoured Rwanda’s minority Tutsi people (even devising an ‘ethnic identity card’ in...

Mara Menzies: A Story of Identity

Friday 20 August 17:30 - 18:30

Perhaps because it is such a natural human impulse, storytelling has sometimes been overlooked as an art form. Yet we are content to take it for granted as a building block for films, plays and the written word. Mara Menzies is a performance storyteller...