Author Topic: Museum decolonization  (Read 1003 times)

90sRetroFan

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Museum decolonization
« on: July 29, 2020, 02:11:24 am »
OLD CONTENT

This is an issue which has been given far too little media attention, and even discussion by ourselves, when in fact it is (much like the more high-profile issue of toppling of colonialist statues) a very good way to raise introductory-level awareness of colonial history, as you get to directly look at the sheer quantity of stolen property and how proudly it is all displayed in Western museums, evidence of nonexistent Western remorse towards colonialism.

The True Left must demand returning to original owners ALL museum artifacts acquired by violence during the colonial era, as well as providing apology and compensation to all victims. To examine just one example out of many such museums (arguments equally applicable to all similar museums):

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#Controversy

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It is a point of controversy whether museums should be allowed to possess artifacts taken from other countries,[7][91] and the British Museum is a notable target for criticism. The Elgin Marbles, Benin Bronzes and the Rosetta Stone are among the most disputed objects in its collections, and organisations have been formed demanding the return of these artefacts to their native countries of Greece, Nigeria and Egypt respectively. Parthenon Marbles claimed by Greece were also claimed by UNESCO among others for restitution. From 1801 to 1812, Elgin's agents took about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.

In recent years, controversies pertaining to reparation of artefacts taken from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing during the Anglo-French invasion of China in 1860 have also begun to surface.[92] The ransacking and destruction of the Chinese palaces has led to unhealed historical wounds in Chinese culture. Victor Hugo condemned the French and British for their plundering.[93] The British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among others, have been asked since 2009 to open their archives for investigation by a team of Chinese investigators as a part of an international mission to document lost national treasures. However, there have been fears that the United Kingdom may be asked to return these treasures.[94] As of 2010, Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum, said he hoped that both British and Chinese investigators would work together on the controversial collection, which continues to result in resentment in China.[95]

The British Museum has refused to return these artefacts, stating that the "restitutionist premise, that whatever was made in a country must return to an original geographical site, would empty both the British Museum and the other great museums of the world".[96] The museum has also argued that the British Museum Act of 1963 legally prevents any object from leaving its collection once it has entered it. Nevertheless, it has returned items such as the Tasmanian Ashes after a 20-year-long battle with Australia.[97]

The British Museum continues to assert that it is an appropriate custodian and has an inalienable right to its disputed artefacts under British law.

In ethical terms, the British Museum clearly has no leg to stand on. If one individual steals from another, does the thief have an "inalienable right" to retain the stolen property just because he has kept it on display inside his house for the viewing pleasure of his own guests (who may or may not be required to pay a viewing fee)? If not, then how is it different merely that the entity doing the looting plundering stealing was the British Empire?

And no, this has nothing to do with returning objects to the "where they were made", a shameless attempt at obfuscation. If an object was made in X, sold to Y and then stolen by Z, the artefact should be returned to Y, not to X. This is about returning objects to their true owners.

And yes, returning them would indeed empty "the great museums of the world". Would anyone take seriously a complaint by a thief that he should not return stolen property because it would empty his "great house"? (Is this the same "great" as the one in M[insert Western country here]GA?) Here is some of the stuff that has to be returned:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#Department_of_Ancient_Egypt_and_Sudan

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#Department_of_the_Middle_East

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#Department_of_Asia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Museum#Department_of_Africa,_Oceania_and_the_Americas

As for the British Museum Act of 1963, that is an explicitly colonialist law right there, the very kind of law we want to bring attention to. If a thief asserts that a law exists applicable inside his house that makes it illegal for property to leave his house once it has entered it, would you take him seriously? He is basically saying that it is OK for him to steal from you, but not OK for you to seek redress! (Is this what rightists actually mean when they say "It's OK to be white"?) This is literal Talmudism.

And here we come to the reality: if the British Museum, true to its colonial heritage, maintains its Talmudist attitude, how do we get back our stolen property? We must simply disregard the British Museum Act of 1963, just as we disregard all laws which are based on ingroup/outgroup double-standards. If they will not give it back, we simply take it back.

Corbyn appears to be on our side:

www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/03/jeremy-corbyn-says-would-return-elgin-marbles-greece-elected/

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Jeremy Corbyn will order the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece if elected Prime Minister, opening the door to dozens of historical artefacts being repatriated under a Labour government.

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Surprisingly, the US actually has a somewhat decent policy on this issue. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) became law in 1990.

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The Act requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding[1] to return Native American "cultural items" to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Cultural items include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. A program of federal grants assists in the repatriation process and the Secretary of the Interior may assess civil penalties on museums that fail to comply.
...
Lastly, NAGPRA makes it a criminal offense to traffic in Native American human remains without right of possession or in Native American cultural items obtained in violation of the Act. Penalties for a first offense may reach 12 months imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.
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Since the legislation passed, the human remains of approximately 32,000 individuals have been returned to their respective tribes. Nearly 670,000 funerary objects, 120,000 unassociated funerary objects, and 3,500 sacred objects have been returned.[5]

The statute attempts to mediate a significant tension that exists between the tribes' communal interests in the respectful treatment of their deceased ancestors and related cultural items and the scientists' individual interests in the study of those same human remains and items. The act divides the treatment of American Indian human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony into two basic categories. Under the inadvertent discovery and planned excavation component of the act and regulations, if federal officials anticipate that activities on federal and tribal lands after November 16, 1990 might have an effect on American Indian burials—or if burials are discovered during such activities—they must consult with potential lineal descendants or American Indian tribal officials as part of their compliance responsibilities. For planned excavations, consultation must occur during the planning phase of the project. For inadvertent discoveries, the regulations delineate a set of short deadlines for initiating and completing consultation. The repatriation provision, unlike the ownership provision, applies to remains or objects discovered at any time, even before the effective date of the act, whether or not discovered on tribal or federal land. The act allows archaeological teams a short time for analysis before the remains must be returned. Once it is determined that human remains are American Indian, analysis can occur only through documented consultation (on federal lands) or consent (on tribal lands).
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Graves_Protection_and_Repatriation_Act

Western plunderers complain that this repatriation causes "science" to "lose out" on the artifacts which are being taken away from dusty museum shelves. Contrary to Western hubris, Native American groups are actually very interested in studying their past, and many recent studies in archaeology and genetics have been conducted by researchers who actually bother to consult with Native American communities and engage in respectful dialogue about the purpose and scope of the studies.

Who would have thought that this approach of treating people with respect would be more effective at generating knowledge than plundering and treating the groups being studied as dehumanized 'test subjects'?

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"Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act"

Could the spirit of this Act be extended such that the US demands foreign museums (e.g. British Museum) to return stolen American artefacts? Having the US join in the voices demanding for return of stolen property would symbolically side the US with the victims of colonialism, as we wish it.

"Western plunderers complain that this repatriation causes "science" to "lose out" on the artifacts which are being taken away from dusty museum shelves. Contrary to Western hubris, Native American groups are actually very interested in studying their past, and many recent studies in archaeology and genetics have been conducted by researchers who actually bother to consult with Native American communities and engage in respectful dialogue about the purpose and scope of the studies."

I despise the notion that we must placate such complainers. The attitude we should be promoting is: if "science" does "lose out", SCREW THEM. Even if Native American groups had no interest in subsequently cooperating with researchers, they still deserve stolen artefacts back. One of the reasons why we are here is to destroy the Western notion that research justifies initiation of violence.

"Who would have thought that this approach of treating people with respect would be more effective at generating knowledge than plundering and treating the groups being studied as dehumanized 'test subjects'?"

I re-emphasize:it DOES NOT MATTER whether treating people with respect is more effective or less effective at generating knowledge. By arguing that treating people with respect is more effective at generating knowledge, you allow our enemies to argue that IF disrespect is more effective at generating knowledge, THEN disrespect is acceptable. Only by ceasing to view generating knowledge - a form of accumulationism - as valuable in itself are we truly de-Westernized.

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www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/benin-bronzes-british-museum-nigeria-stolen-imperialist-treasures-return-loan-elgin-marbles-looted-a8414661.html

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Nigeria might be willing to let Britain, the imperial power that stole its Benin Bronzes, return them on just a loan basis rather than giving them back permanently, it has emerged.

While other countries, like Greece over the Elgin Marbles, have refused to accept anything other than a permanent return of treasures seized during the colonial era, it seems that some Nigerian officials might be willing to settle for borrowing back what was stolen from them.

Nigeria has been seeking the return of the bronzes ever since the country gained independence from Britain in 1960. The treasures were plundered during a punitive British expedition in 1897, which culminated in Benin City being burned and looted.

The only way this could end well is if Nigeria then refuses to give up the items after the loan period expires. Otherwise Nigeria would just be humiliating itself.

France seems to have a better attitude on the issue:

www.france24.com/en/20181123-france-return-african-art-benin-macron-quai-branly-colonial-british-museum

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President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday that France would return 26 works of art to Benin, hours after he was presented with a report calling for thousands of African artworks in French museums and taken during the colonial period to be returned.

The report, by French art historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, recommends that French museums give back work if African countries request them.

The report estimates that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Some70,000 of the estimated 90,000 works of sub-Saharan art in France’s public collections are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, which opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art, much of it from former French colonies.

It will be up to Macron to determine the feasibility of the report’s recommendations. France has strict laws that consider African artifacts state property even if they were taken illicitly. Removing any works from the state collections will require an amendment to currentcultural heritage laws.

Museums throughout Europe are watching closely for what happens next. The report notes that hundreds of thousands of other objects are housed in Belgium, the UK, Austria and Germany. The national museums of Africa, on the other hand, rarely have collections exceeding 3,000 works, said the report, and those objects often have less artistic value. Any restitution programme in France could increase pressure on other nations to return objects from their own collections.

Here is a French colonialist siding with the British Museum's attitude:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHzHGhYlkVg

An honourable France would cut out his tongue and send it along with the returned artifacts as apology.

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www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/26/meps-pass-watershed-resolution-action-against-structural-racism-people-african-descent

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It also calls on member states to declassify their colonial archives and consider “some form of reparations” for crimes of the colonial era, including public apologies and the restitution of artefacts from museums. “Some member states have taken steps towards meaningful and effective redress for past injustices and crimes against humanity – bearing in mind their lasting impacts in the present,” the resolution states.

The EU institutions and other member states are called on to follow this example.

“Histories of injustices against Africans and people of African Descent – including enslavement, forced labour, racial apartheid, massacre, and genocides in the context of European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade – remain largely unrecognised and unaccounted for at an institutional level in EU member states,” the text states.

As for redress, instant citizenship of colonialist states for all people from their respective former colonies would be a reasonable start.

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www.euronews.com/2019/07/12/tutankhamun-bust-goes-up-for-auction-in-london-as-egypt-renews-calls-to-cancel

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Egypt has requested help from Interpol to retrieve a bust of Tutankhamun that was sold at auction in London last week for over £4.7 million (€5.2 million).

A lawsuit in the UK has also been launched on behalf of Egypt.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Egypt's National Committee of Antiquities said it felt "deep dissatisfaction" at Christie's auction house for allegedly ignoring requests to postpone the sale.

The statement added that a "great surprise" was also felt at receiving less than expected support from British authorities upon the request.

Egyptian authorities campaigned to postpone the auction last Thursday amid claims the 28.5cm-high quartzite statue had been looted from Karnak Temple in Luxor.

But Christie's maintains that it had provided "extensive information" about the bust.

Speaking to the Guardian, the auction house said Egyptian officials had been invited to meet with their representatives to discuss the relevant documentation, but that the offer had not been taken up.

Egypt's antiquities committee says no such legitimate proof had been shown in the way of deeds or documents showing the artefact's legal departure from the country.

The 3,000-year-old bust was sold from the Resandro Collection, a private collection of Egyptian art that was sold in part in 2016 for more than £3m (€3.3m).

"Great surprise"? What the **** did you expect from your own colonizer?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTl4-E5B1rA

(At least the comments are encouraging.....)

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90sRetroFan

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 02:11:57 am »
OLD CONTENT contd.

This is integrity:

www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/16072019-british-museum-trustee-resigns

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The British-Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif has resigned from the British Museum’s board of trustees in protest at the institution’s position on issues such as sponsorship, outsourcing and repatriation.
...
Soueif also criticised the institution’s response to the debate on repatriation that has been opened up by the report commissioned by the French president Emmanuel Macron last year, which recommended proactive restitution of looted African objects.

“The British Museum, born and bred in empire and colonial practice, is coming under scrutiny. And yet it hardly speaks,” wrote Soueif. “It is in a unique position to lead a conversation about the relationship of south to north, about common ground and human legacies and the bonds of history. Its task should be to help us all to imagine a better world, and – along the way – to demonstrate the usefulness of museums.”

Soueif continued: “The British Museum is not a good thing in and of itself. It is good only to the extent that its influence in the world is for the good. The collection is a starting point, an opportunity, an instrument. Will the museum use it to influence the future of the planet and its peoples? Or will it continue to project the power of colonial gain and corporate indemnity?”

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Jamaica joins in!

www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/minister-seeks-return-of-priceless-artefacts-from-british-museum

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A Jamaican government minister has demanded that the British Museum repatriates objects in its collection taken when the island was a colony.

The culture minister, Olivia Grange, wants the museum to return artefacts including a 500-year-old carved wooden figure thought to represent Boiyanel, a rain god; and a carved figure of a bird-man spirit found in a cave in 1792.

The demand adds to a growing debate over whether institutions such as the British Museum should hold on to objects culturally significant to their country of origin.

Grange made her demands in the Jamaican parliament last week. The Jamaica Gleaner reported her as saying the artefacts were taken during early archeological digs when the island was still a British colony. She said the pieces were made by the Taíno, the indigenous people of the Caribbean encountered by the 15th-century western explorers.

“They are not even on display,” Grange said. “They are priceless, they are significant to the story of Jamaica and they belong to the people of Jamaica.”
...
The issue of repatriating objects is one of the most pressing debates in the museum world and was given extra impetus by a report commissioned by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, published in late 2018.

The report by Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy recommended full restitution of objects and artworks taken without consent from their countries of origin.

As well as Jamaica’s request, Greece wants the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles and Ethiopia wants objects taken during the Battle of Maqdala. Talks are ongoing for some of the spectacular Benin Bronzes to be loaned to a new cultural hub in Benin City, Nigeria.

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Positivity:

www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/11/sadiq-khan-backs-british-slavery-museum-to-challenge-racism

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Sadiq Khan has endorsed proposals for a British slavery museum in London as a way of combating modern-day racism.
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“Until and unless Britain comes to terms with this history it will be impossible to understand much less eradicate the views that continue to justify racial inequalities today.

“It is unacceptable that the capital city of a nation that built a global empire and its wealth in large part as a result of its role in the slave trade has no significant museum or monument marking the role that London and Britain played in these historic atrocities.”

London was one of the three most important British ports in the slave trade, along with Bristol and Liverpool – home to the International Slavery Museum – which all became extreme wealthy as a result. At the same time the British economy was heavily dependent on Caribbean sugar, grown on slave plantations in its colonies.
...
Anti-racism activists have long complained the discourse around the British slave trade has been dominated by the nation’s role in its abolition, particularly that of William Wilberforce, rather than its role in atrocities spanning more than 200 years.
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David Olusoga, historian and presenter of the BBC Two documentary, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, endorsed the proposed museum. He said: “The impact of the slave trade and enslavement is already stamped onto the fabric of London, but in ways we have learnt not to notice.

“Britain played a central role in the Atlantic slave trade and the fortunes built on the back of slavery flowed back to Britain. A new museum, in the heart of the city, would help us to acknowledge a history that for the most part is hidden in plain sight.”

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www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/03/greece-has-acknowledge-british-museum-ownership-wants-loan-elgin/

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A Greek request to borrow the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum would only be considered if Greece acknowledges British ownership of the sculptures, the museum said on Tuesday.
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“A pre-condition for any loan is the acceptance of the lending institution’s ownership,” a British Museum spokesperson told The Telegraph.

“We feel we have legal title to the sculptures that are in the British Museum collection.

“No museum or gallery in the world would loan objects unless the other institution that was borrowing them accepted ownership. There are conditions. They are not specific to the Marbles - they are a basic condition of all loans, not just for us but for all museums."

Mr Mitsotakis, who was elected as head of a centre-Right government in July, said at the weekend that he would be prepared to loan the British Museum artefacts that have never left Greece, in return for the loan of the friezes, known to Greeks as the Parthenon Marbles.

He said he would put the proposal to Boris Johnson.

But the idea was criticised on Tuesday as “naïve” by Alexis Tsipras, his predecessor as prime minister.

Mr Tsipras, now in opposition, said that Mr Mitsotakis’ “naïve initiative allows the British Museum to appear as the rightful owner” of the sculptures, which have been contested by London and Athens for two centuries.

Rather than asking for a loan, the government “should ask for the permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles…with the support of all of us,” Mr Tsipras, the leader of the centre-Left Syriza party, wrote on Facebook.

I agree with Tsipras.

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www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2019/12/13/should-the-british-museum-return-its-egyptian-collection

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Culturally significant items from hundreds of communities around the world today line the shelves of the British Museum, the most visible legacy of a brutal colonial past showcased by the display of foreign heritage as trophies in a collection.

The British Museum is far from alone in this, but it is the best known such collection in Britain, and arguably in the Western world. It contains over eight million objects, of which some 80,000 (1 percent) are on permanent display.
...
The British Museum was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. There were already a small number of Egyptian antiquities in the collection then, and that has since grown to hold more than 50,000 objects.

The dates of acquisition were available for around 38,000 objects (70 percent of the collection), and give very useful overview on the growth of the Egyptian collection.

The vast majority of Egyptian antiquities that arrived in the Museum came when Egypt was a British colony from 1882 to 1956, which is when more than a third of the items were registered.

Apart from the obvious inference that European agents stole the items they fancied (like they did in India, Ethiopia, and in most other colonised countries), it reflects the growing interest in exploring Egypt.

Hundreds of archaeologists, explorers and adventurers from across Europe travelled to Egypt during this period, and new discoveries were carted back home to either be studied, sold, or to form part of their own collections.

The greatest number of acquisitions were made in the first decade of the 20th century, when 7,406 objects were acquired by the British Museum between 1900 and 1910.

In 1904, 2,160 items were received alone, which was the largest acquisition of Egyptian objects.
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Colonisers, and especially the British, have a history of picking up anything they thought was valuable, like the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan from India or the Parthenon friezes from Greece. While not explicitly stated, it is hard to believe that the majority of these items weren't stolen, or at least taken without prior permission of any authority.

It is important to remember that the British Museum was founded during a time of colonisation, when the colonisers undoubtedly looted and pillaged indigenous societies.
...
The repatriation debate is in many ways a microcosm of the power dynamics between the colonised world and the colonisers, one where the global north has rarely taken responsibility for its actions that destroyed the lives of millions around the world.

Countries that were ravaged by colonisation have begun understanding the significance of the heritage they have lost, and are asking for it to be returned to its geographical homeland.

After destroying the lives and breaking the economies of places like Egypt, the least the UK and other former colonisers can do to atone for their deeds is to have this conversation, decolonise their collections and return stolen property.


90sRetroFan

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2020, 02:15:22 am »
Some success:

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/penn-university-museum-working-repatriate-skulls-enslaved-peoples-collection-1897840

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The Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania is putting in storage a collection of more than 1,000 skulls, including some that belonged to enslaved peoples, following an outcry from students.

The crania, which were held in a private classroom, belonged to the collection of Samuel George Morton, a 19th-century Philadelphia-based physician known for his “broadly white supremacist” views, according to the institution.
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A prominent member of the Philadelphia medical community during his life, Morton’s work has since been largely discredited by scientists for its baseless assumptions and poor documentation. He used his research to show that “Europeans, especially those of German and English ancestry, were intellectually, morally, and physically superior to all other races,” the museum’s website states.

Calls for the museum to restitute or rebury the skulls grew in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, as art institutions across the country and around the world have been pushed to reckon with systemic racism and the legacy of colonialism.

“We recognize that this museum was built on colonialism and racist narratives,” the institution said a separate statement following Floyd’s death. “We are working to change these narratives and the institutional biases that accompany them. Racism has no place in our museum. We must do more.”

90sRetroFan

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2020, 11:29:02 pm »
How much longer will we continue the moral absurdity of begging the thieves to lend to us our own property that they stole from us?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mexico-asks-austria-loan-precious-194100945.html

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday pressed Austria to loan Mexico a bejeweled feather headdress considered one of the country's most important pre-Hispanic artifacts for display in an exhibition next year.

Lopez Obrador wants to celebrate Mexico's Aztec past in 2021 to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of Aztec capital Tenochtitlan to conquistador Hernan Cortes, an event which ushered in three centuries of Spanish domination.

The leftist president, who has asked European powers to apologize for colonial-era abuses in Mexico, urged Austria to lend the delicate, brightly-colored headdress said to have been worn by Aztec emperor Moctezuma before he was toppled by Cortes.

"The Austrians have completely taken control of the headdress," he told a news conference.

Likening it to a "mission impossible", Lopez Obrador asked his wife Beatriz Gutierrez to appeal to Austria on a visit to Vienna during a European tour where she has made loan requests for various artifacts his government wants to exhibit.

"Next year will be dedicated to this because the colonialists have narrated history at their convenience," Lopez Obrador said. "It's always the same, those who conquer or invade have to justify their meddling, stealing and atrocities with the aid of their supposed superiority."

Spanish forces largely destroyed Tenochtitlan after a siege in 1521, building Mexico City on the ruins.

The famous headdress is nearly a yard (meter) wide and made from more than 450 elegant, vivid green feathers of the quetzal bird mounted in a jewel and gold encrusted crown.

It is believed to have arrived in Europe in the 16th century, and according to Vienna's Museum of Ethnology, which houses the headdress, it later fell into the hands of Austria's Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol.

Over the years, it has been subject to repeated Mexican requests for its return.

Vienna's Museum of Ethnology did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Our duty is not merely to take back what is ours, but more importantly to execute the thieves. How long must we wait before mainstream politicians are willing to to say this?

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2020, 03:57:56 pm »
African man tries taking back ‘stolen’ artifacts from French museum
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An African man is seen trying to take back ‘stolen’ artifacts from the French Louvre museum.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh4RcAvV6so

guest5

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2020, 05:11:58 pm »
The Problem with Museums
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Are museum collections ethical? How did these institutions end up with their vast array of artifacts and remains from every corner of the globe? Well, chances are there was some definite shadiness involved. Today, Danielle examines this complicated debate and looks closely at the cases of Saartjie Baartman and Chang and Eng Bunker. What do you think? Should objects be repatriated, left on display, or something in between?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av_3tGceTvs

guest5

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2020, 10:15:29 pm »
Africa's looted art | DW Documentary
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Africa’s colonial overlords brutally stripped it of countless cultural treasures. Now, the fate of these items is being hotly debated in Europe and Africa as well. Some say the pieces should be returned, while others have reservations.

European museums proudly present art and cultural artifacts from all over the world. But until recently, many of them have never considered their own complicity in the brutal ways in which the pieces were acquired. Only slowly are they starting to include the people to whose ancestors these artifacts once belonged in their decisions, although European colonial overlords pillaged and looted them in the first place.

The issue of restitution is taking on a new urgency in Germany, last but not least because of the controversy surrounding Berlin's Humboldt Forum, which is home to non-European collections. It's estimated that more than 1.5 million artifacts from all around the world are held in storage at Germany's ethnological museums. The Linden Museum in Stuttgart alone holds 60 thousand pieces from Africa. How many of them were stolen? And how do museums address the fact that their colonialist collectors had blood on their hands?

This documentary takes an African perspective on some examples, including valuable bronzes from Nigeria, an ornamental prow of a boat from Cameroon, and what is known as the Witbooi Bible from Namibia.

What do the people in the African countries where the pieces originated think about all this? What are the views of researchers, museum directors, artists and curators? What emotions arise when the frequently painful past is stirred up and examined? And how significant is the issue in the context of problems such as poverty, hunger and corruption in former colonies?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RXlVr_15JY

guest5

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2020, 12:06:27 pm »
Austrian museum says Moctezuma's headdress 'cannot be moved'
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The curator at Vienna's #Weltmuseum where a feather headdress said to have been worn by Aztec Emperor Moctezuma is displayed says that the piece "cannot be moved" as it is "too fragile" after Mexico's president tasked his wife with the mission of persuading #Austria to return the pre-Hispanic relic. #Mexico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkqmwOOs9gc

How is the headdress more fragile now than it was when it was first shipped to Austria?

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2020, 10:22:34 pm »
Since they can't move the headdress, they should declare the land on which the museum stands to be a territory of Mexico.
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90sRetroFan

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2020, 11:06:40 pm »
Here is an activist worth praise:

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/mwazulu-diyabanza-louvre-sentenced-1932638

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Restitution Activist Mwazulu Diyabanza Must Pay the Louvre €5,000 for Taking an Artwork From a Display Case

Diyabanza has undertaken similar actions at museums across Europe.

The Congolese restitution activist Mwazulu Diyabanza has been sentenced to a fine and a deferred prison term in Paris for removing an object from a display case at the Louvre in what he called a political action to cast light on restitution issues.

Diyabanza tells Artnet News he must pay the Louvre €5,000 for having “tarnished its image because my action had an international and world-media echo.” He says he will appeal the verdict.

Diyabanza has undertaken similar actions at museums across Europe, targeting ethnographic collections taken from former colonies. His acts, he says, cannot be considered theft because the objects are already stolen property.

He has faced charges for acts this year at the Museum of African, Oceanic, and Amerindian Arts in Marseille and the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris.

He was acquitted by a Marseille court in November and ordered to pay a fine of €1,000 for his action at the Quai Branly Museum.

In his action at the Louvre on October 22, which was filmed and posted to Facebook, Diyabanza lifted a sculpture from its mount shortly before guards intervened. He was immediately arrested at the museum and jailed as he awaited trial.

The piece, a late 18th-century guardian spirit figure from the island of Florès in Eastern Indonesia, was on loan from the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and was not damaged in the incident. As a part of his sentencing, he must also pay €2,000 to the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.

The Louvre declined to comment on the verdict. The Paris Tribunal, which oversaw the verdict, did not respond to requests for comment.

In a curiously timed sequence of events, yesterday, the French government managed to push through an unprecedented bill that would see the full restitution of 27 objects to its source countries by the end of 2021. The French senate tried to block the bill before it was forced through by the National Assembly.

Diyabanza tells Artnet News that the bill is “a sleepy and dilatory political measure” and “an insult and a provocation.”

He says he is determined to see “that our heritage may be returned to us unconditionally.”

I say the fines should be paid by French taxpayers. Then maybe they will agree that the items should be returned ASAP.

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2021, 02:42:05 pm »
Indonesians seek return of artefacts stolen by Dutch
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For more than 300 years, the Netherlands colonised what is now modern-day Indonesia and took thousands of cultural and religious artefacts. After years of negotiation, the Dutch government returned some items last year. Indonesian historians want more to be returned - but say it is a long and complicated process. Al Jazeera's Jessica Washington reports from Jakarta.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj4lwTB2GQQ

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2021, 02:00:08 pm »
The British Museum is full of stolen artifacts
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And so far, it isn't giving them back.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoTxiRWrvp8

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2021, 10:17:26 am »
Museum Decolonization in contemporary popular culture:
https://youtu.be/Y82oa7kz4Zk

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Re: Museum decolonization
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2021, 01:40:29 am »
https://us.yahoo.com/news/us-museums-hold-remains-thousands-122656146.html

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US museums hold the remains of thousands of Black people

Among the human remains in Harvard University’s museum collections are those of 15 people who were probably enslaved African American people. Earlier this year, the school announced a new committee that will conduct a comprehensive survey of Harvard’s collections, develop new policies and propose ways to memorialize and repatriate the remains.

“We must begin to confront the reality of a past in which academic curiosity and opportunity overwhelmed humanity,” wrote Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow.

This dehumanizing history of collecting African American bodies as scientific specimens is not a problem just at Harvard. Last year, the University of Pennsylvania announced that its anthropology museum will address the legacy of the 1,300 human skulls – including those of 55 enslaved people from Cuba and the U.S. – in its collection, which was historically used to denigrate the intelligence and character of Black people and Native Americans.

Other institutions have far more Black skeletons in their closets. By one estimate, the Smithsonian Institution, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Howard University hold the remains of some 2,000 African Americans among them. The total only increases when considering museums with remains from other populations across the African diaspora. How many more sets of remains lie in museum storerooms across the United States, and whether or not they were collected with consent, is unknown.
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Collecting Black bodies

The abuse and circulation of African American human remains for research dates back at least to 1763, with the dissection of corpses of the enslaved for the first anatomy lecture in the American Colonies.

The systematic collection of African American remains, as well as those of people from other marginalized communities, began with the work of Samuel George Morton. Considered the founder of American physical anthropology, Morton professionalized the acquisition of human remains in the name of scientific practice and education.

Morton boasted the first collection of human remains, at one point considered to be the largest globally. He used its subjects-turned-specimens to promote racist hierarchies through pseudoscientific interpretations of cranial measurements. His research resulted in his 1839 magnum opus, “Crania Americana,” replete with hundreds of hand-drawn images of skulls and faulty-logic racial categorization.

His collection eventually ended up at the University of Pennsylvania. Only last year did the university officially announce the collection had been removed from a shelved display within an archaeology classroom.

The impact of Morton’s collection and career ricocheted far and wide, laying the foundation for unethical practices built on the theft, transportation and accumulation of human remains – especially of those most marginalized. Collecting surged during the time of the Civil War. From the late 19th century well into the 20th, skeletal collections in museums across the country skyrocketed.

Morton also influenced the ideology of biologist Louis Agassiz, his eventual collaborator. Agassiz founded Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, which originally bore his name. His own collection practices around the photographed bodies of the enslaved have embroiled the university in a public lawsuit.

Institutions long embraced such collections primarily for the pseudoscientific work of justifying racial hierarchies. But they also enhanced their prestige by the number of remains in their collections that could be used for research as well as for exhibitions that fed the public’s morbid curiosity.
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Ultimately, the remains of African American people, freed or enslaved, are in these collections because the captivity of their bodies, both living and deceased, was the very foundation of museums of medicine, anthropology, archaeology, natural history and more. While some academic and cultural institutions have taken the initiative to confront their legacies with slavery – such as decolonization efforts to include more diverse perspectives and values – a national effort has yet to take shape.

Desecrated in life and death

The U.S. Senate passed the African American Burial Grounds Network Act in December 2020. This bill would establish a voluntary network to identify and protect often at-risk African American cemeteries. The program would be administered through the National Park Service, and nothing in the legislation would apply to private property without the consent of landowners. More than 50 prominent national, state and local organizations support the passage of the act into law and are working to have it reintroduced in Congress’ current session.

But even this legislation does not include the remains of Black people in museum collections. Such an addition would be more in line with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a 1990 federal law that addresses Native American human remains in all contexts – both in the ground and in collections. This work is necessary because many of the remains of Black people, like those of Native Americans, were taken without the consent of family, used in ways that contravened spiritual traditions, and treated with less respect than most others in society.

In the absence of such an addition, the work of finding all of the African American remains in museums will be unorganized and inconsistent. Institutions will need to make efforts on their own, which will cost more money and consume more resources. Even more importantly, the absence of a coordinated, national effort will mean the delay of justice for thousands of African American ancestors whose bodies have been, and continue to be, desecrated.

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Decolonizing Paleontology
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2021, 08:56:18 pm »
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Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (/ˌpeɪliɒnˈtɒlədʒi, ˌpæli-, -ən-/), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of fossils to classify organisms and study interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BCE. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek παλαιός, palaios, "old, ancient", ὄν, on (gen. ontos), "being, creature", and λόγος, logos, "speech, thought, study".[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleontology

Decolonizing the Hunt for Dinosaurs and Other Fossils
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Younger paleontologists are working to overcome some historical legacies of their discipline and change how people learn about natural history.
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In 2019, Mohamad Bazzi, a doctoral student at Uppsala University in Sweden, launched an expedition to Tunisia in search of fossils. He and his colleagues traveled to the phosphate mines around the city of Gafsa, where 56-million-year-old rocks record a time of rapidly warming oceans and mass extinctions, particularly of apex predators like sharks.

Mr. Bazzi made some distinctive choices for this paleontological expedition.

For starters, his team hired Tunisians to help dig, rather than bringing students from his university. Mr. Bazzi and his colleagues also chose to reach out to the residents of Gafsa wherever possible, holding impromptu lectures on the area’s fossil history to interested onlookers. This was a contrast with the secretiveness of many paleontologists in the field, who might worry about their sites being raided for the fossil black market.

The fossils the team collected from Gafsa are important for learning more about how animals adapted to the hothouse world of the Eocene, a period that may foretell what’s in store for the planet in coming years if carbon emissions don’t slow.

But while Mr. Bazzi’s team removed the fossils from Tunisia, they did so under an agreement with local institutions that Mr. Bazzi himself insisted on: After he finished his research, the remains would be returned.

Historically, these specimens are seldom returned, and locals may never see them again. But Mr. Bazzi and his colleagues are part of a movement among the next generation of paleontological researchers, one attempting to change scientific practices that descend directly from 19th century colonialism, which exploited native peoples and their natural histories.
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Over the last few decades, multiple countries have demanded the return of looted art, antiquities, cultural treasures and human remains from museum collections in North America and Europe. Countries such as Mongolia and Chile have likewise demanded the return of collected fossils, from tyrannosaur bones to the preserved remains of giant ground sloths.

“There’s a consistent pattern with these specimens of high scientific or aesthetic value, where they’re taken out of the developing world and shipped abroad to be displayed and shown to a wider audience elsewhere,” Mr. Bazzi said. “There should be some balance so that local parties have a say in what happens to them.”

Many countries with less money to spend on funding their own scientists are home to important fossil deposits that could drive major advances of our understanding of the prehistoric world. If the field of paleontology is to move forward, these researchers say, it’s important to figure out how to study specimens in these places without extending colonial legacies.


That will take the development of a different approach to the field, more like the ones being tried by Mr. Bazzi and other scientists that rely less on extraction and more on collaboration with and the development of local institutions.
Entire article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/22/science/dinosaurs-fossils-colonialism.html?utm_source=pocket-newtab