The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 40, Issue 1

Article 2
Public History, Landmarks and Decolonization in Trinidad

David V. Trotman


This article explores the process of symbolic decolonization in Trinidad through an examination of the treatment of its public monuments and icons inherited from the colonial period. The article argues that symbolic or iconic decolonization in Trinidad has been slow and halting, without any emphasis on the construction of new symbolic commemoratives. It suggests that this is due largely to the personality and vision of Dr Eric Williams, a Caribbean historian and the chief architect of the new nation. A Creole nationalist, his understanding of the past did not allow for the destruction of physical monuments. His successors have a less clearly defined historical vision and their attempts at symbolic decolonization are guided by the political expediencies of the independence period.