Germany and Nigeria have signed an agreement setting out a timetable for the restitution of artefacts looted from the royal palace of Benin in a British military raid in 1897.
| Statue from Nigeria ||
in the Musée du
The debate over the restitution of cultural property is usually framed as the dispute between what John Henry Merryman defined as ‘cultural nationalism’ and ‘cultural internationalism’: the opposite viewpoints that argue whether cultural heritage objects should be returned to their countries of origin or spread around the world as determined by other principles. I argue, however, that the concepts are problematic both in their definition and their perception as two dialectically opposed sides of a dispute. This article analyses the restitution debate by examining some of the most important arguments and counterarguments used in the debate and by comparing them to the international law ‘New Stream’ theory. It is revealed that a similar indeterminacy which defines international law in the theory also defines the restitution debate, and that cultural nationalism and internationalism do not in fact provide answers to the debate but only function as two entry points that echo each other without a way to end the debate. Therefore, it is necessary to see beyond the two concepts in order to find solutions to the disputes."Therefore, it is necessary to see beyond the two concepts in order to find solutions to the disputes".... If somebody takes the bike my kid left in my front garden and I want it back, why are we quoting labels of "Merryman" and where is the "dispute"? Whose bike is it? Any "dispute" is not because I want back what was taken, but that the taker tries to find excuses for not giving it back.
This loop is maintained by the persistent notion of the oppositeness of cultural nationalism and internationalism, as the failure to recognise the nature of the argumentation has misled the participants and those attempting to find new solutions.Who is using these labels these days? I really do not see how it is helpful to centre the whole argument on some equally vague labelling of the mid 1980s, which is basically what Pauno Soirila does.
A researcher from the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant as part of €655 million (£591 million) funding of the EU’s current research and innovation programme called Horizon 2020. Professor Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, who specialises in global histories and contemporary art from the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies secured a grant of €2 million (£1.8 million) to explore 'Artistic Research in Museums and Communities in the process of Repatriation from Europe.' Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll said: The release in 2018 of the Sarr Savoy Report crystalised the debates that had been moving with increasing urgency in museums and international relations of restitution and repatriation. The REPATRIATES project is important as it will bring together internationally art-based research actions that respond to repatriation, to learn from exchanges between French, German, Austrian and British institutions and stakeholder indigenous communities. REPATRIATES examines how contested objects - whose ownership may remain unclear - can be exhibited sensitively. It develops strategies for making artistic responses to this material, to propose ways forward for the decolonization of cultural property. This research hopefully will aspire to shape a pan-European response to the complex political, historical, legal, and affective dimensions of the repatriation of cultural assets."
| Stolen statue of the Hindu |
The statue was part of the original 1936 bequest by Norman MacKenzie, the gallery’s namesake [...] MacKenzie had noticed the statue while on a trip to India in 1913. A stranger had overheard MacKenzie’s desire to have the statue, and stole it for him from its original location – a shrine at stone steps on the riverbank of the Ganges at Varanasi, India.