Spain branded woke for plan to ‘decolonise’ museums

The Times 25 January 2024
By Isambard Wilkinson

The Socialist-led government’s decision was condemned by right-wing politicians and commentators, who said it would ‘burn’ institutions such as the Prado

A plan to “decolonise” Spanish museums has prompted accusations of “wokery”, historical ignorance and an attempt to destroy institutions such as the Prado.

The announcement by the Socialist-led government that it will review the country’s 17 state-run museums has caused anger on the political right and divided culture experts.

Ernest Urtasun, the newly appointed culture minister, told parliament that the review would “make it possible to overcome a colonial framework or one anchored in gender or ethnocentric inertia that has, on many occasions, hindered” visions of heritage, history and artistic legacy.

His statement drew condemnation from the main conservative opposition People’s Party, which attacked it for using “cultural policy as a spear”. Borja Sémper, the party’s head of cultural affairs, called it “a debate forcibly imported … from the extreme left or woke left”. He demanded that the government explain “in what way state museums endorse colonial culture”, saying there was no evidence for it.

The hard-right Vox party dubbed Urtasun, a leader of the far-left Sumar platform, the Socialist party’s main coalition ally, a “hispanophobe”. It accused him of having “internalised part of that black legend that compares the Spanish Empire with the Belgian Congo”.
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