Many readers will already know of the Rosetta Stone and its monumental impact on history. Discovered during the Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt around the turn of the 19th century, the Stone was taken to England and now rests in the British Museum.
Colonialism is often defended as a moral mission, a mission to educate and civilise the non-western world, and often used Christian Missionaries to convey their message. However, this perspective stands to much debate, as through the years the Empires have often been questioned on what the true intentions behind colonialism were. Were they purely moral? Or were they based on profit, and excavating the best resources from foreign land?
Imagine how our culture would appear had the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle not existed? Quite impoverished, it can readily be assumed. But then again, where would European Culture be today had Islam not existed? This is an intellectual/cultural debt that is yet to be sufficiently acknowledged.
Oppressive regimes have always been threatened by art. It is visceral communication, delivering a message and a mood in an instant. It sustains culture, binds society together, and gives it an identity outside of state control. Art can reflect the world of the viewer back at them with more clarity. It can kindle revolution.