Monday, January 30, 2012

The Return of Cultural and Historical Treasures: the Case of the Netherlands

Jos van Beurden is a Dutch research journalist who has published extensively on the protection and endangerment of cultural and historical treasures. He has just published a book: "The Return of Cultural and Historical Treasures: The Case of the Netherlands". This analyses 34 cases in which the Dutch state and Dutch heritage institutions have handed over cultural and historical treasures that were acquired in colonial times and more recently. He investigates the dynamics of their return practice and gives his analysis extra depth by including cases in which return has not materialized.
The shrinking divisions between a poor South and a rich North, colonizer and colonized, and source countries and art and antique market countries impact our thinking about return. How do Dutch heritage institutions deal with this new reality, when the return of their objects or collections comes under discussion? That is the central question in this critical book.
The book seems a useful addition to the literature about the return of colonial trophies, Nazi-spoliated art and human remains.

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