Call for papers: Restitution of Colonial Collections in Europe

(27-06-2019) TAPAS (Thinking About the PASt) invites papers for its conference on the restitution of colonial collections

Following the repatriation of human remains from Germany to Namibia and Australia in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and French president Emmanuel Macron’s statement on November 28, 2017 that return of African objects in French museums is a “priority”, issues of provenance and restitution of colonial acquisitions have gained momentum in Europe. Various social and cultural groups as well as states demand the return of human remains, archives and cultural objects in colonial collections to which they claim cultural, religious, historical or biological affinity. Yet many museums, collectors and governments continue to wrestle with restitution demands, often lacking a clear vision on the best way forward or resorting to defensive discourses. These include a legalist reasoning in which states and ethnographic museums today cannot be held accountable for crimes committed so long ago, referring to the high scientific or market value of the acquired objects or following a statist reasoning in which only claims by ‘nation states’ are valued as legitimate. This conference wants to particularly explore such motivations and the implicit philosophical convictions that underpin many restitution-claims and responses to them.

In this conference, TAPAS wants to explore the different challenges and dilemmas that are at stake in the claims for and the processes of the restitution of colonial acquisitions. They are particularly interested in the conflicting motivations and implicit philosophical convictions that underpin many of these discussions, and in the justificatory grounds on the basis of which restitution claims are formulated and/or denied.

Read the full call for papers and send your abstract to  no later than 15th September.