Paying a Visit to the Queen–Tracing Dispersion, Looking for Disappearance

In 1897, during a colonial conflict with the Kingdom of Benin–in present-day Nigeria–, British soldiers burnt down the palace of the king and looted more than 2,500 bronze and ivory artefacts. In 1901, only four years after the looting of the Benin palace, most of the Benin artefacts were already part of museum collections in Europe. Almost half of them were brought to museums in Germany. The video accompanies the art historian and artist Peju Layiwola and the historian Memory Biwa during a visit to the collection of the bronzes of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. It is their second visit on the same day, immediately following a tour with the two curators of the museum’s African collection. By Andrea Bellu & Matei Bellu. more ...

Handling restitutions of human remains: The Case of a repatriation from Vienna to Kuruman (South Africa) in 2012

On Monday, 23th June, 2014 AfricAvenir in cooperation with artefakte//Anti-Humboldt and the August-Bebel-Institut invited to a dialog forum with Ciraj Rassool on „Handling resitutions of human remains“. Rassool, historian and director of the African programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Western Cape, reflects on his experiences as monitor of the repatriation of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar from Vienna to Kuruman in 2012. By Ciraj Rassool. more ...

Repatriation of Human Remains: A Community Perspective

The phrase “repatriation of human remains”, in our current South African context, is usually associated with the return of the remains of our brothers and sisters who died for the cause of freedom and democracy. It includes those who died in exile, those who were killed by Apartheid forces and buried away from their families and the communities they came from. This was the line of thinking of many of us until about 15 years ago when we were made aware of another sad chapter in our history of our people. By Shane Christians. more ...

Réflexions issues de l’Activations à Porto-Novo – Documents de travail

This dossier compiles statements and reflections by young academics from the Université Abomey-Calavi and the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain (EPA) on our discussions about cultural heritage, looted artefacts and the valorization of objects. (Texts are only in French) By Young Scholars of the Departement of Art History at the Université Abomey-Calavi and the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain. more ...

Colonialism and its Objects: Remarks on the Framework for Repatriation and Restitution under Public International Law

Discussing “Restitution as History and Future” is, also from a legal point of view, a good entry point to emphasize the fact that the debate about the restitution of artworks looted during the colonial period to this day remains an unfinished and unresolved process. If we understand artefacts as “objects in diaspora” which have an important role to play in the relationship between the past and the present, then this relationship would indeed be intense: According to Alain Godonou, former director of the EPA, most African countries have lost 95 % of their cultural heritage. By Malte Jaguttis[1]. more ...

The Object of Memory

By Françoise Vergès The theme of our meeting is “DIS / MISSING THE LINKS! Value Adjustments, Cultural Heritage & Absent Objects.” I would like first to address the expression “dis/missing the links”. With the notion of “links”, are we speaking of past or existing links, of the nature of links, of the absence of links, of the consequences of links, of their reinterpretations, or, of the possibility of subverting them? By Françoise Vergès. more ...