Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 March 2022
The Prologue discusses the fall of the statue of General Louis Faidherbe in Saint-Louis, Senegal. The statue was placed in the main square of Saint-Louis in 1886 but was toppled in 2017. Although the perpetrators of this act of iconoclasm were unknown, the toppling of the statue was acclaimed by some of the town’s population. The mayor of Saint-Louis nonetheless restored the statue to its former position, defending the colonial heritage of a city that owes its existence to the French empire. However, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the statue of Faidherbe once again became the subject of heated debates in the national media. Considered by some as the founder of modern Senegal, others denounce Faidherbe as a perpetrator of colonial violence. The Prologue examines how the legacy of this key figure in the history of colonialism is assessed today. Considering the question of responsibility as key to this debate, the Prologue questions the usefulness of the categories of perpetrators and victims in the history of colonialism. Following Michael Rothberg, it studies the decolonization of heritage using his concept of implicated subjects.