Political monuments in Europe played an important role in the construction of national traditions and as spectacles of governmental power in the nineteenth century. But while the genre of the heroic statue had waned in Europe and America by the 1960s, it was an important convention utilized by the newly independent country of Jamaica to authorize a new concept of the self that had been marginalized under colonial rule. As a new and different model of achievement, the local and mostly black “ancestral” heroic figures and their attending monuments served to instill a sense of pride and confidence in the populace, which in turn gave legitimacy to the new leadership base of the present. Visual displays are part of the social practices of memory that create and reinforce political communities. This article therefore addresses the aesthetic terms by which a “bold” national history, to quote Edna Manley's description of Bogle, is established, fashioned, or brought to material life. How do images participate in the constitution of identity through history, and what are the ambivalences or tensions such displays reveal about the political culture of the new nation?

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