For our “Where Heritage Meets Violence” essay series, Nick Shepherd considers how the violence of colonialism is deeply inscribed in space and landscape. He traces the history of the University of Cape Town, where a protest against a statue of Cecil Rhodes initiated the #RhodesMustFall movement. Shepherd examines the persistent materializations of power, showing how enduring coloniality shapes embodied ways of seeing and being in the world.
Nick Shepherd is an associate professor of archaeology and heritage studies at Aarhus University, and an extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria. He has been a visiting professor at Brown University, Colgate University, and the University of Basel, and a Mandela Fellow at Harvard University. In 2017–18, he was artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. In 2004, he founded the program in Public Culture and Heritage in Africa at the University of Cape Town, which he convened until 2017. His recent publications include the volumes Colonial and Decolonial Linguistics: Knowledge and Epistemes (edited with Ana Deumert and Anne Storch; Oxford University Press, 2020), and After Ethics: Ancestral Voices and Postdisciplinary Worlds in Archaeology (edited with Alejandro Haber; Springer, 2015), and the monographs La Mano del Arqueologo: Ensayos 2001–2015 (JAS Arqueología, 2017) and The Mirror in the Ground: Archaeology, Photography and the Making of a Disciplinary Archive (Centre for Curating the Archive, 2015). Together with Christian Ernsten and Dirk-Jan Visser, he is convenor of The Walking Seminar, an experiment in walking methodologies involving scholars, artists, curators, and activists, that moves between contested locations in the global north and south. Currently, he is lead author of a white paper on Cultural and Natural Heritage for Climate Action, commissioned for a cosponsored meeting of ICOMOS, UNESCO, and the IPCC.